On national defense, President Barack Obama publicly embraces high-minded principles while in secret checking off kill lists that have included U.S. citizens.

Nothing epitomizes this hypocrisy more than the abhorrent persecution of Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a well-known Yemeni journalist recently released from the prison where he has been held for three years. After exposing U.S. involvement in devastating drone strikes in Yemen, Shaye was arrested and later convicted for being a "media man" for terrorism in a sham trial condemned by multiple human rights organizations.

Obama personally intervened to block Yemen's president from pardoning Shaye in 2011, leaving him to languish in prison for another year.

The U.S. role in jailing a Yemeni journalist who was just doing his job won't win hearts or minds but it does make a mockery of the American principle that a free press is a bedrock of democracy. Obama should reverse the disturbing precedent of persecuting those who embarrass his administration or expose its secrets.