When we launched Freedom of the Press Foundation -- a new organization dedicated to supporting the 1st Amendment and journalism that focuses on transparency and accountability in government -- a little over six weeks ago, we knew the need was there. President Obama had come into office promising to "create an unprecedented level of openness in Government," "establish a system of transparency," and most famously, become "the most transparent administration in history."
But now at the start of his second term, government secrecy is at an all time high, and officials who leak information to the press are routinely being intimidated, and whistleblowers are being prosecuted at a record rate. In fact, the current administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than the rest of the Presidents combined. These facts speak for themselves --it was more important than ever to stand up for this country's long tradition of a free press.
But the question was: would people donate?
Well, after six weeks the answer is clear: over 1,900 people donated close to $200,000 to support important transparency journalism organizations like WikiLeaks, MuckRock, National Security Archive, and The UpTake.
Yesterday, we launched our second 'bundle' of organizations, which we plan to keep doing every two months from here on out. This time around, we're still supporting WikiLeaks, as they are still subject to extra legal (or many believe illegal) financial blockade--Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal stopped taking donations to them in late 2010 after unofficial pressure from members of Congress. But we're also funding three more innovative non-profit journalism organizations: the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, Center for Public Integrity, and Truthout.
Even better, each organization designed a specific, investigative projects tailored for Freedom of the Press Foundation donors. Each of the project's national security themes -- drone strikes, Guantanamo Bay and the 9/11 trials, and the Pentagon's bloated budget -- explores some of the most blatant secrecy abuses by the government in recent memory.
To kick off this bundle, I'm offering up to a $10,000 total matching donation to supporters who go to our website and donate. Each supporter will see their donation doubled on the front page.
We hope this matching donation idea will encourage small and large donors alike to support transparency journalism. We believe this Foundation can be part of a broad-based movement to restore and protect the First Amendment.
So it's up to the public to bring transparency to the government, if the government won't bring it to us.
Here's a deeper look at the investigative projects donors to Freedom of the Press Foundation can support:
- The Bureau of Investigative Journalism aims to expand its groundbreaking report on secretive US drones strikes with its "naming the dead" project. The Bureau will provide accurate and verifiable evidence identifying as many individuals as possible killed by drones strikes, whether they are militants or civilians. Read more here.
- The Center for Public Integrity plans to dig deeper into the secret and convoluted world of U.S. military budgeting and spending--now amounting to half the federal discretionary budget--and provide investigative reports on wasteful weapons systems, the financial relationships between defense contractors and members of Congress, and the explosion of military entitlement spending. Read more here.
- Truthout will be sending their lead investigative reporter, Jason Leopold, to Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp over the course of the next year to cover the military commission trials of the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators. The commissions have been steeped in controversy since their creation, and have since become home to some of the most excessive and arbitrary secrecy in recent memory. Read more here.
- WikiLeaks published around 600,000 documents in 2010, they published approximately 250,000 documents in 2011, published around 460,000 in 2012. In 2013 they plan on publishing over one million documents--more than all of these years combined. The documents also contain references to every country. Read more here.