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America's intelligence workers must report even non-job related conversations with journalists.

That was one of the talking points of the Associated Press's Kathleen Carroll's address to the organization Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Carroll, AP's senior vice president and executive editor, spoke to the committee a few weeks ago, slamming the Obama administration for its secrecy. One snippet, according to a transcript:

The current president of the United States has decided that significant portions of his job should be conducted in private -- things like signing legislation surrounded by lawmakers and smiling citizens. Or meeting with donors on the road.

The press -- and the public -- are shut out. The White House says “well, if anything interesting happens, the president’s own photographer will take the picture.”

Really?

When governments are covering themselves with taxpayer-funded journalists, who needs independent coverage?

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And maybe that’s their point.

On the absurd levels of secrecy concerning the nation's thousands domestic security and intelligence workers, Carroll says:

The atmosphere in the U.S. intelligence community has gotten so prohibitive it would be silly if it weren’t so serious. There are tens of thousands of employees in 16 intelligence agencies, and none of them can discuss ANYTHING with a journalist without permission. Every encounter -- no matter how benign -- must be reported back to the intelligence bosses.

So, if your kids play together on the same soccer team, your mutual sideline grumping about the coach must be reported. If you compare organic apples in the produce aisle, that’s gotta go back to HQ, too.

It may sound trivial, but the consequences aren’t. Intelligence employees can lose their jobs and go to prison if they are caught talking. And as we know all too well, a few journalists are being shoved toward a jail cell, too.

Read the full transcript of her remarks here

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Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or joe.osullivan@rapidcityjournal.com

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