A New York Times reporter called the administration of President Barack Obama "the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation," Poynter
At a conference on Friday, Times reporter James Risen said the White House wants to "narrow the field of national security reporting" to "create a path for accepted reporting." Risen currently is fighting an order to testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking information to him.
Anyone who exceeds the government's parameters "will be punished," he said, and a "timid" press has gone along, creating a "de facto Official Secrets Act."
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Risen spoke at the Sources and Secrets conference attended by journalists and communications and government professionals in New York City.
Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer who writes for The New Yorker and serves as a commentator for CNN, told the group, “For better or worse, it has been clear there is no journalistic privilege under the First Amendment."
The top White House lawyer for national intelligence Robert Litt agreed with Toobin, comparing national security leaks to drunken driving.
"Not every drunk driver causes a fatal accident, but we ban drunk driving because it increases the risk of accidents," Litt said. "In the same way, we classify information because of the risk of harm, even if no harm actually can be shown in the end from any particular disclosure."
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