Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Support current efforts to soften policy on government leaks and encourage further changes
Journalists are responsible for keeping the people informed, and this sometimes means publishing things that the government doesn’t want made public. While it’s true that some of these leaks are harmful and can endanger our national security, other leaks are necessary in order to keep the government honest and accountable. In an important step towards recognizing that not all leaks are created equal, the Obama administration has announced a significant change in its policy towards leakers.
For much of Obama’s time in office, his administration has gained a reputation of heavy-handedness when responding to government leaks. Before the recent policy update, many leakers faced criminal charges for providing sensitive government information to the press, even if doing so was in the public interest. With the new policy, alternatives such as administrative sanctions could be considered instead of prosecution.
In a statement regarding the changes, a White House spokesperson said that President Obama views the new direction as “an important step towards finding the balance between dealing with dangerous leaks of classified national security information and protecting the rights of journalists to freely gather and report the news.” Journalists shouldn’t have to fear prosecution for doing their jobs. Please sign the petition below to thank the Obama administration for taking a step towards ensuring this and to encourage further action to protect whistleblowers, journalists, and their sources.
Dear President Obama,
In performing their duty to the public, journalists sometimes publish sensitive information obtained from government sources. Your administration has, in many cases, reacted to such leaks with criminal charges and federal prosecution. It is unfortunately true that certain leaks are harmful, such as those that endanger the lives of national security personnel. However, many other leaks are necessary to ensure that the government is kept honest and held accountable.
Recently, your administration took an important move by concluding that prosecution is not the appropriate way to respond to all leaks and deciding to consider administrative alternatives in appropriate cases instead. This move means that journalists will no longer have as great a fear of being prosecuted for doing their jobs. Freedom of the press and national security are both important issues; thank you for recognizing that we don’t have to sacrifice one to protect the other.
While this change is a necessary and appreciated first step, additional action is still necessary to protect the rights of journalists. Please continue to work with Congress and your administration to further improve policies towards leaks and whistleblowers and move closer towards your promise of an open and accessible government.
[Your Name Here]
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