DEMS SPLIT ON IMMIGRATION: A month after President Obama traveled to the US–Mexico border to tout his immigration record, which includes nearly 800,000 deportations, members of his own party are backing away from his flagship enforcement program, Secure Communities, set to be activated nationwide by 2013.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn took the first step in May, “terminating” his state’s participation in the program, in which local law enforcement officials share arrest data with federal immigration agents to target “criminal aliens.” In a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Quinn noted that less than 20 percent of people deported through Secure Communities have been convicted of a serious crime, while 30 percent “have never been convicted of any crime.” One month later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended the program in his state, citing “concerns” about its “impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement.” Most recently, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declined to join Secure Communities, saying it would “deter the reporting of criminal activity…particularly domestic violence.” Now California Governor Jerry Brown is under pressure to stop participating, or at least allow cities and counties to opt out.
At the federal level, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has called for “an immediate freeze” of Secure Communities, and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi recently told the Spanish-language publication La Opinión that the program suffers from “overzealous application” and is “a waste of taxpayer money.”
A new survey by Latino Decisions and impreMedia found that Latino voters overwhelmingly oppose the deportation of noncriminal immigrants and students, who have been targeted through Secure Communities. Obama ought to consider this before he relies on the Latino vote in 2012. RENÉE FELTZ
THE WIDENING WAR ON WIKILEAKS: The investigation of WikiLeaks by the Justice Department is expanding. On June 9, just over a month after the grand jury hearing began in Alexandria, Virginia, subpoenas were issued to David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network; Tyler Watkins, Bradley Manning’s ex-boyfriend; and Nadia Heninger, a Princeton University cryptologist who has worked with WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum. All were ordered to appear in District Court on June 15.
This is only the most recent move by the Obama administration in what has been an aggressive investigation from the start. Just after WikiLeaks started publishing US Embassy cables in November, Attorney General Eric Holder authorized “significant” actions related to a criminal investigation, including ordering Twitter to turn over data on three users linked to WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is conducting a probe of its own.
While it is unknown how many people have been subpoenaed so far, Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald has reported evidence of at least four, including a Cambridge resident who remains anonymous. The Obama administration’s actions align with its stance that WikiLeaks published “stolen” classified information: in a February speech ostensibly about “Internet freedom,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the cables had been “stolen, just the same as if they had been smuggled out in a briefcase.” But it was Manning, not WikiLeaks, who allegedly breached a classified database and published material. And depending on the charge and person, indicting others linked to WikiLeaks for receiving classified information would be almost unprecedented.
Along with other Obama-era prosecutions of whistleblowers, including the recently collapsed case against former NSA official Thomas Drake, the targeting of WikiLeaks has the potential to deter journalists and others who might expose corruption and government abuse. Meanwhile, on June 13 the New York Times revealed that the FBI is expanding agents’ surveillance powers to “scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.” It’s a move that “only further raises the potential for abuse,” according to a former FBI agent—and a sobering reminder of why we need whistleblowers now more than ever. KEVIN GOSZTOLA
COPPS CALLS OUT THE FCC: No federal regulator takes his responsibility to serve the public interest more seriously than does FCC commissioner Michael Copps. So when the authors of a long-awaited FCC report, “The Technology and Information Needs of Communities,” pulled their punches on the crisis of communications in an era of media consolidation, constant corporate spin and journalistic decline, Copps decried the missed opportunity.
Noting that “the overarching conclusion” seemed to be that “America’s media landscape is mostly vibrant and there is no overall crisis of news or information,” Copps declared, “There is a crisis when, as this Report tells us, more than one-third of our commercial broadcasters offer little to no news whatsoever to their communities of license. America’s news and information resources keep shrinking, and hundreds of stories that could inform our citizens go untold and, indeed, undiscovered. Where is the vibrancy when hundreds of newsrooms have been decimated and tens of thousands of reporters are walking the street in search of a job instead of working the beat in search of a story?”
The commissioner’s stinging indictment was of far greater consequence than the study itself. His call for hearings to bring the public into the discussion should be echoed by members of Congress as well as by citizens who seek a serious discussion about the future of media and democracy. JOHN NICHOLS
REWARDING HELL-RAISING JOURNOS: On June 9 The Texas Observer presented its annual Molly National Journalism Prize, honoring journalists whose work follows in the tradition of the fearless and inimitable Molly Ivins. We are proud to report that The Nation was well represented: Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco were nominated for their article “City of Ruins,” from the November 22 issue of the magazine, and Joshua Kors won an honorable mention for his April 26, 2010, cover story, “Disposable Soldiers.” The big winner was Jeff Sharlet, for his article “Straight Man’s Burden,” published in Harper’s and made possible with support from the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. Congratulations to all!