Matter introduces us to Jason Leopold, a journalist that makes extensive use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Jason has realised that, in an era where whistleblowers are persecuted, the best way to get government secrets is from the government itself.
For one thing, it’s getting harder for national security reporters to obtain government secrets the old-fashioned way, by coaxing them from sources. Even before Edward Snowden, the Obama administration was pursuing leakers of classified information with unprecedented aggression, going so far as to seize journalists’ phone records. Now, fearing another Snowden, the government has intensified its crackdown. “People are just not willing to give shit up,” Leopold says. “It’s like, ‘I’ll go to jail.’” With FOIA, though, you don’t have to imperil a source: Instead of asking a vulnerable human to spill government secrets, you ask the government for those secrets directly.
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