Sexton: Why the Obama Administration Loves The Espionage Act

President Barack Obama, center, huddles with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, right, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, in a Secret Service limousine as he departs Dulles International Airport, in Sterling, Va., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.Credit: AP

It should come as no surprise that the corrupt and hyper-partisan Obama administration has invoked the Espionage Act to target journalists more than all preceding administrations combined. This scratches two of Obama’s authoritarian itches: teaching a lesson to those in media who question the Obama agenda, and striking a climate of fear throughout the federal government’s rank and file.

That’s the prism through which we must view the recent media leak revelations. They are just another manifestation of Obama’s compulsion to use the federal government to crush opponents and teach would-be whistleblowers a lesson.

Sure, President Obama has recently gotten huffy about the need for “unfettered” journalism and his respect for a free press. But this backtracking, which at first looked merely like self-serving spin, has been revealed as despicably dishonest.

Do not be fooled for an instant: President Obama loves the Espionage Act.  It’s a progressive statist double-whammy, a giant club with which he can batter media opposition and prevent any whistleblowing from inside his administration at the same time.

What is treason versus what is a good-natured Oval Office chat about highly classified information with a New York Times reporter? Under the Espionage Act, it’s in the eyes of the beholder. And the beholders are President Obama and Eric Holder.

The Espionage Act of 1917 is grossly overbroad and unconstitutional—but for an aspiring autocrat, there is no better tool. It’s much easier to control the national dialogue when everyone has to live in fear of what they say.

Somewhere, in a place I’m guessing is uncomfortably warm, Woodrow Wilson is looking up with a big approving smile.

A quick review of what has happened and what we have learned since the AP leak investigation first came to light tells the unsettling tale. The Obama team just can’t control all the lies anymore, and if you line them up, one pile of malarkey knocks down another like a row of dominoes.

For example, are we really to believe Attorney General Eric Holder when he claims the AP case was an exceptionally grave leak?  If you were willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt on the AP records seizures, how does the Fox News leak come into play?

Ah, so it was really two incredibly horrific leaks. Perhaps the Attorney General chose unprecedented, sweeping investigative techniques because they were the most egregious leaks imaginable. With even the most superficial scrutiny, that generous interpretation of events collapses.

The AP claims that they held a story about a counterterrorism operation at the behest of the administration. Yet, if the leak was so bad, why wouldn’t the Obama administration have told them never to publish it?  If the AP had the launch codes for our nuclear submarines, I don’t think the White House would say “Could you hold off on publishing those for a few days? Thanks.”

Similar circumstances, by the way, occurred several times during the Bush years, with leaks that were at least as serious if not more so. Irresponsible journalists published the national security information anyway. The Bush administration, so reviled by elite media, considered indicting the offending papers  (and yes, it could have done so, under current law. There is no media exemption for treason or espionage).

But President Bush didn’t, because ultimately, whatever mistakes he made, Bush believed that the Constitution was bigger than he was, and some uses of executive authority could tear at the very fabric of this Republic, whether legal or not.

Sexton: Why the Obama Administration Loves The Espionage Act

President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder (AP Photo)

Fortunately for the Obama administration, they have no similar qualms; you step out of line, they crush you. To call this Chicago politics is perhaps too kind. It really has more of an East German flavor lately.

Before I digress, there’s more. The Fox News side of the leak probe quickly shifted from unconstitutional to creepy. It has been reported that reporter James Rosen’s parents phone records were seized. As if that were not bad enough, team Obama listed Rosen as a co-conspirator in order to justify the massive intrusion.

It’s hard to separate this from Obama’s fierce and petty vendetta against Fox News. Yet partisan motives aside, the seizure of Rosen’s records is about as brazen an end-run on the Fourth Amendment as could be mustered.

Speaking of motive, many Obama apologists offer up that the President looks bad because of these leak investigations, therefore he couldn’t have ordered them or even known about them. This excuse, also trotted out in the IRS scandal, misses the point entirely.

From the start of his administration, President Obama has been worried about his national security credentials. And as many Commanders-in-Chief have learned the hard way, a national security blunder or scandal can sink an administration.

This is the basis for the Obama policy: President Obama only wants leaks that come straight from the White House, and make him look good. Anything else will be punished with the utmost severity, regardless of its implications for the First Amendment, national security, or a basic sense of fair play.

If this were not the case, why hasn’t DOJ pulled all phone records from every paper or media outlet that has leaked during the Obama administration? There have been lots of leaks, even according to Democrats. Those records still exist, and we know who published the sensitive info.

This would be openly tyrannical, but at least it would be consistent. Instead, Obama picks and chooses who gets bludgeoned with the Espionage Act, and why. He can keep his senior advisors out of legal jeopardy, while anyone else is subject to the federal government’s full fury.

And for those who feel better for a moment now that Obama’s pernicious prosecutions have come to light and he has adopted a pseudo-conciliatory tone: don’t. Do you know who Obama has put in charge to review the DOJ leak investigation practices? Eric Holder.

The corrupt Obama partisan meant to oversee these leak investigations will now lead a review of whether they were improperly overseen.

It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. Instead of having a laugh at the oafish overreach of this administration, we watch as our First Amendment, already on life support, slowly slips away.

 

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