After US Presdient Barack Obama’s two terms in office it gets increasingly clear for everyone that freedom of speech in the United States can be described as rigid control that the state exercises over the media and journalists, while those who refuse to cooperate with the system find themselves deprived of a chance to publish or promote their articles anywhere.
As it’s been noted in a report drafted by the former editor-in-chief of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie, since the era of Richard Nixon, no American president was as hostile to the media as Barack Obama. The report also notes that the Obama administration has been routinely spying on journalists, while punishing harshly any and all whistleblowers.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) argues that a state can hardly be regarded as a democracy if it has a DoD manual that reads as follows:
Persons authorized to accompany the armed forces are often referred to, and treated as, “civilians,” since they are not members of the armed forces. However, as discussed below, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces are also treated like “combatants” in some respects.
States may need to censor journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy. Under the law of war, there is no special right for journalists to enter a State’s territory without its consent or to access areas of military operations without the consent of the State conducting those operations.
It should be noted that Operation Mockingbird, launched by the CIA in the 1950s, has never ceased to exist. The main objective of this operation was and still is to influence both the US and foreign media through agents that have been planted among genuine journalists. When the operation was made official, US authorities already had thousands permanent and contracted agents of the CIA embedded within hundreds of Western media outlets. and it seems that nothing has changed since those days, with the Western media spreading disinformation, producing propaganda and whitewashing anything that might harm the well-being of Western special interests.
It’s curious that in late 2016, Washington allocated 1.5 million dollars for sponsoring those people that are tasked with the mission of “inspiring the masses” in the Middle East and to “supervise media sources in the region.” Without a doubt, this money will be spent on the training of representatives of opposition media sources, which are trying to make Middle Eastern audience as pro-Washington as possible.
In this context, institutions such as the Bureau of Near East Affairs, The Office of Press and Public Diplomacy (NEA / PPD) and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs are now in search of NGOs that will present their own projects on training and cooperation with Middle Eastern media sources. The organization(s) to be employed by the above mentioned entities will operate under the direct control of US “experts”, tasked with the goal of controlling local media sources and organizing seminars and workshops for Middle Eastern journalists.
That is why the Nation notes that any détente initiatives by President-elect Trump must break with spurious US notions of a new Cold War. The escalation of neo-McCarthyism is exemplified by the recent Washington Post front-page article alleging that an array of American Internet sites have been propagating Russian-inspired “fake news.” The article even implies that these “peddlers of Russian propaganda” should be prosecuted. These kinds of assaults on democratic discourse, which became torrential in the summer of 2016, have been coming from self-professed “liberals,” including many supporters of the failed Clinton campaign and other mainstream publications and outlets aligned with the Democratic Party, such as The Washington Post, the The New York Times, and MSNBC.
We shouldn’t forget that when policymakers act according to false narratives, the result is grave danger, as we are now experiencing with this emerging, new Cold War. And the Obama administration must recognize its own role in destroying independent journalism, which often finds itself being the last bastion of human dignity.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”