Tags: obama | first | amendment | rights

Pentagon Papers Lawyer: Obama Crosses Line on First Amendment Rights

Image: Pentagon Papers Lawyer: Obama Crosses Line on First Amendment Rights James Goodale, third from left, and other lawyers representing The New York Times, arrive at the Supreme Court in Washington in 1971 to argue against Justice Department suits to stop The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing uncensored articles on the secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam War.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 02:17 PM

By Melanie Batley

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James Goodale, the man who successfully fought President Richard Nixon's attempts to stop The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, says President Barack Obama has been even more aggressive in trying to stop journalists from reporting leaks.

Goodale, also known as the "father of reporters' privilege" and author of a new book titled "Fighting for the Press," says Obama is censoring the media by using an illegitimate justification of national security concerns, according to The New York Observer.

He noted the Obama administration has indicted six leakers compared to Nixon's one, showing an aggressiveness borne out this week by reports of the FBI seizing the office and home phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors in an effort to stop a leak.

The Observer also reported that Goodale believes a grand jury has already secretly indicted Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks and publisher of the Afghan War Logs. Goodale is working to convince journalists that regardless of their opinions about Assange, his situation sets a dangerous precedent which he is committed to resisting.

"I am confident that [the government] has indicted Assange in secret," he said. "In any event, until the government tells us it's gone away, I feel like we have to speak out against it. This will set a standard."

Discussing his book at an event with lawyers and journalists, Goodale said, "I wanted to reach a conclusion that would inform President Obama with respect to his actions on the relationship of national security to the press."

He added, "He's not been very good on it. But the idea was the national security claims do not hold up in the long run and the First Amendment protects journalists. So don't get involved in that mess!"

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