Sure, Canadians can be really nice. And everyone loves them some Justin Trudeau. But all is not hockey and rainbows in America’s Tophat:
At every turn of Ben’s saga, the RCMP under the Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau administrations have undermined the role of a free press in a democratic society. Ben’s case is unique, even compared to other instances where governments have interfered with the journalistic process in an attempt to reveal the identity of an anonymous source. In his reporting, Ben both identified his source and quoted him extensively; the RCMP has already gotten a wealth of information about Shirdon simply because Ben published his work on Motherboard.
It’s disturbing because, as the quote above notes, authorities don’t need this reporter to disclose his source to them.
And lest you think I’ve forgotten, the article points out that
Barack Obama’s administration charged more whistleblowers with violating the Espionage Act than any other administration in history. Meanwhile, Obama’s Department of Justice secretly spied on Associated Press reporters while simultaneously whining about encryption and internet privacy as major barriers to national security.
This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a government overreach issue, all parties and all nations. The press in a free and open democracy must be allowed certain room to do their jobs. Ben Makuch may not be able to get a story like the one in question these days, with his sources more reluctant to open up to him. That means no extensive interview with a named ISIS member for authorities to use in intelligence gathering.
In other words, their overreach here is short-sighted to the point of incompetence. Intelligence, as everything else on the international stage, is a long game. Lucky for us, so is the best journalism. But unless we stay informed and keep intrusive and counter-productive government practices like these in the forefront of our minds, there won’t be much journalism left worth reading.