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Sunday, 19 October 2014

“truth” is a four letter word… believe me

Photo: Michael Hale

“[…] Jeff Leen, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations, begins his renewed attack on the late Gary Webb’s Contra-cocaine reporting with a falsehood.
     Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that ‘an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.’ But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without ‘extraordinary proof’ or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.
     A different rule actually governs American journalism – that journalists need ‘extraordinary proof’ if a story puts the U.S. government or an ‘ally’ in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an ‘enemy.’
     […] Leen is trying to fool you when he presents himself as a ‘responsible journalist’ weighing the difficult evidentiary choices. He’s just the latest hack to go after Gary Webb, which has become urgent again for the mainstream media in the face of ‘Kill the Messenger,’ a new movie about Webb’s ordeal.
     What Leen won’t face up to is that the tag-team destruction of Gary Webb in 1996-97 – by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times – represented one of the most shameful episodes in the history of American journalism.
     The Big Papers tore down an honest journalist to cover up their own cowardly failure to investigate and expose a grave national security crime, the Reagan administration’s tolerance for and protection of drug trafficking into the United States by the CIA’s client Contra army.”
— Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com
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“James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. He's also currently under subpoena, possibly facing jail time, because of his reporting.
     Specifically, he's being investigated because of an article on a CIA ploy to hinder Iran's quest for a nuclear bomb that went epically sideways and may have actually helped Iran along. 60 Minutes ran a great story on him this weekend, during which they cited a well-known statistic: the Obama administration has prosecuted more national security ‘leakers’ than all other presidencies combined, eight to three.
     But the story also prompted me to look into another figure, which is less well known and potentially more dramatic. Partially because of press freedom concerns, sentencing in media leak cases has historically been relatively light. Not so under President Obama. When it comes to sending these folks to jail, the Obama administration blows every other presidency combined out of the water – by a lot. By my count, the Obama administration has secured 526 months of prison time for national security leakers, versus only 24 months total jail time for everyone else since the American Revolution. It's important – and telling – to note that the bulk of that time is the 35 years in Fort Leavenworth handed down to Chelsea Manning.
     It takes a bit of digging to find all this information. As my public service for the day, here's a rundown of every leak case, the sentence (if there was one), and its current disposition.”
— Gabe Rottman, ACLU
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