Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee offered eight ways that the Obama administration is “blocking information” at a recent joint meeting of news editors.
Buzbee argued the administration’s stranglehold on information is apparent across the federal government and the lack of access is now becoming a trend in state and local governments.
An August 24, 2014 photo shows the front of the White House as seen from Lafayette Square in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Here are Buzbee’s top five ways how the Obama administration is “blocking” journalists from getting information:
1) As the United States ramps up its fight against Islamic militants, the public can’t see any of it. News organizations can’t shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off — there are no embeds. In fact, the administration won’t even say what country the S. bombers fly from.
2) The White House once fought to get cameramen, photographers and reporters into meetings the president had with foreign leaders overseas. That access has become much rarer. Think about the message that sends other nations about how the world’s leading democracy deals with the media: Keep them out and let them use handout photos.
3) Guantanamo: The big important 9/11 trial is finally coming up. But we aren’t allowed to see most court filings in real time — even of nonclassified material. So at hearings, we can’t follow what’s happening. We don’t know what prosecutors are asking for, or what defense attorneys are arguing.
4) Information about Guantanamo that was routinely released under President George W. Bush is now kept secret. The military won’t release the number of prisoners on hunger strike or the number of assaults on guards. Photo and video coverage is virtually nonexistent.
5) Day-to-day intimidation of sources is chilling. AP’s transportation reporter’s sources say that if they are caught talking to her, they will be fired. Even if they just give her facts, about safety, for example. Government press officials say their orders are to squelch anything controversial or that makes the administration look bad.
Buzbee also criticized the current administration for making Freedom of Information Act requests “slow and expensive.” Journalists are then forced to sue the government to force officials to respond, she said.
Further, the government uses FOIA requests as a “tip service” to see which stories various news organizations are investigating, she claimed.
Finally, the AP bureau chief alleged that the Obama administration is “trying to control the information that state and local officials can give out,” citing recent reports that local police departments have been directed to withhold information about surveillance technology used to acquire mass amounts of cellphone data.
Read Buzbee's entire list here.