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The United States, land of the free, has now slid to number 46 on the press freedom index.

We now fall between Romania and Haiti in terms of press freedoms, a according to Reporters Without Borders latest annual report

That's also a drop from number us being ranked 32nd in 2012. The slide could be because of a change of methodology (explained here), that tries to account for self-censorship and the intimidation by journalists of the government.

That last point is something for which the Obama administration has grown quite a taste. Under the Obama presidency, federal authorities have raided the Associated Press to take phone records.

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And the administration is trying to force a New York Times journalist who covers national security to name his sources. If successful, the government could force James Risen to go to jail for refusing to play ball. 

"It is the Obama Administration that wants to use this case and others like it to intimidate reporters and whistle blowers," writes Risen in the above link. "But I am appealing to the Supreme Court because it is too dangerous to allow the government to conduct national security policy completely in the dark."

Elsewhere, the former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden (appointed by Clinton and Bush II, respectively) jokes about assassinating U.S. citizen and whistleblower Edward Snowden for exposing the government's secret NSA surveillance programs.

What comes next? Hayden apparently hasn't had Snowden killed yet. Risen has taken his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. And we have a whole new year to work toward allowing the press to do its business without intimidation by government officials.

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

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