AG Sessions likely to prioritize Christian right’s agenda

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he was campaigning for Donald Trump. — PHOTO: Gage Skidemore

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Aug. 4 that the Justice Department will escalate its crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers.

He indicated leak investigations have tripled in recent months and the Justice Department will seek to throw sources of journalists in jail.

Sessions’ comments about "reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas" represents a dangerous escalation of the administration’s war against the press, according to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The group said, "The Department of Justice is explicitly threatening to haul journalists before grand juries and force them to testify about their confidential sources or face jail time.

"Sessions’ suggestion that journalism is a threat to national security is particularly concerning. Journalists play a crucial role in our democracy, informing the public about the government’s activities.

Sessions’ comments seem intended to have a chilling effect on journalism, by making reporters and their sources think twice before publishing information that the government does not like. That will leave leave all Americans less informed about what the Trump administration is doing behind closed doors."

Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, issued this statement:

“Every American should be concerned about the Trump administration’s threat to step up its efforts against whistleblowers and journalists. A crackdown on leaks is a crackdown on the free press and on democracy as a whole.

“Our founders understood that democracy depends on an informed citizenry, and leaders can't be trusted to disclose vital information that reflects poorly on themselves. These first months of the Trump administration dramatically illustrate that point. Can anyone seriously argue that our country would be better off if the public received all of its information through official channels alone?”

Jesselyn Radack, director of the Whistleblower & Source Protection Program — or WHISPeR — at ExposeFacts, stated: 

"The Justice Department's crackdown on leaks wrongly targets and punishes national security whistleblowers, who have no meaningful internal channels for dissent or meaningful protection from retaliation. The crackdown is a backdoor way of attacking journalists on whom the public relies to be informed about government misconduct.

"Insider Threat Programs have proven discriminatory against legitimate whistleblowers and foster a destructive, McCarthy-esque culture within the federal government.

"Attorney General Sessions fails to distinguish between whistleblowing in the public interest and other leaks and fails to address the rampant over-classification problem plaguing the national security community."

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