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Former ThinkProgress writer: White House censored us

By Brendan Bordelon

Zaid Jilani, a former blogger with the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress, explained this week how the Obama administration frequently tries to censor the progressive organization’s content when it departs from the White House’s agenda.

… The blogger never assumed he would agree with everything pushed by the Center for American Progress’s Action Fund when he joined the 501(c)(4) nonprofit to write about national security in 2009. But he soon discovered that one topic in particular was entirely shielded from criticism — the war in Afghanistan, which President Obama was then in the process of escalating.

“One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was Afghanistan.,” he wrote. “CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most of our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand.” That was tough for Jilani, a strong opponent of the war. And as congressional opposition to the war increased over time, he found he was able to criticize the White House more directly.

But in 2011, one post went too far.

ilani had just published a story — “one of the most successful things [he] had ever written at that point” — which indicated troops levels at the end of Obama’s Afghan “surge” would actually be higher than at any point in the George W. Bush administration. And it came complete with a graph, which congressional opponents of the war took into committee hearings on Capitol Hill.

The Obama administration was furious.

“Phone calls from the White House started pouring in,” Jilani claimed, “berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy . . . Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama.”

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