America’s proud moniker of ‘Leader of the Free World’ is slipping fast into the recesses of increasingly authoritarian and secretive government.
The World Press Freedom Index, issued by the Watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, ranked the United States at a dismal No. 41 out of 180 countries – putting it just barely in the top quarter of nations, which itself was actually an ‘improvement’ over the past year.
That is a far cry from the perceptions that most Americans have cherished, and politicians have so frequently touted in televised speeches.
The U.S. has lost a lot of ground in such rankings over the course of the past several years of repression in the post-9/11 world and in particular with the clamp down and persecution of whistleblowers, and the journalists who enable them.
According to NPR:
The U.S. is ranked 41 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, which measures the “level of freedom of information in 180 countries.”
Citing the U.S. government’s “war on whistleblowers who leak information about its surveillance activities, spying and foreign operations, especially those linked to counter-terrorism,” and the country’s lack of a “shield law” that would allow journalists to protect confidential sources, the report takes a decidedly negative view of U.S. press freedom.
[…] as NPR’s Sam Sanders has reported:
“[Obama’s] Justice Department has cracked down on reporters in an effort to prevent leaks; it also set a new record for withholding access to government files under the Freedom of Information Act (despite calling for a “new era of openness” on his first day in office);
Basically, every major Western democracy ranked ahead of the U.S. in freedoms, and the overall trend is in decline, and a lack of respect for the rights of photographers, citizen journalists and even credentialed press – particularly when asking inconvenient questions with real substance.
[…] The group’s U.S. Director Delphine Halgand says in the report that there is still “room for improvement in the country of the First Amendment.”
The reaction to leaks by Edward Snowden, Chelsea (Bradley) Manning and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have epitomized this, but there have been many other whistleblowers who were ignored and mistreated.
Former CBS investigative reporter Sheryl Attkisson was harassed by a host of alphabet agencies who hacked her computer and let it be known that her reports on the scandals of the Obama Administration would not be welcomed. Michael Snyder wrote:
Let’s review what has happened to former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson. She was an award-winning journalist for more than thirty years, but that didn’t stop the Obama administration from systematically harassing her. In her new book entitled Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, she makes some extremely startling claims. She believes that the harassment and intimidation that she experienced were the direct result of her determination to get to the truth about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the green energy scandals and Obamacare. The following are some of the main points that she has been sharing with the media in recent weeks…
-While she was working at CBS News her computers were hacked by the government, her keystrokes were monitored and potentially incriminating classified material was planted on her hard drive.
There are many more cases, but most of them never make the news, and some are difficult to confirm or report on.
The point is that our rights are slipping away, and the system itself is becoming more entrenched with corruption, and more secretive by the day.
Moreover, it has become sophisticated about its branding and image – Obama appears jovial and friendly towards the ideas of democracy, but in substance his administration has not respected the First Amendment, and obviously not the Second, nor the Fourth Amendment, or due process.
Of course, the most dangerous agencies, like the NSA and CIA, stand above any president, and carry on actions that undermine the rights of Americans as a matter of course, and readily use national security as a pretext to steamroll over the Bill of Rights whenever they get the chance.
Things will only get worse from here unless the core issues are dealt with.