Eric Holder and Lois Lerner unavailable for comment.

NEW YORK — President Barack Obama denounced foreign governments that try to quash their citizens’ efforts to expand personal freedoms, saying it is in America’s national interest to oppose repression abroad.

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual conference on Tuesday, Mr. Obama unveiled a U.S. government directive aimed at strengthening citizen movements that push for freer, more open societies. […]

Threatened by what he called “civil society”—community organizations, labor unions, charities and other nongovernmental groups—repressive governments “are doing everything in their power” to stifle dissent, Mr. Obama said.

“From Russia to China to Venezuela, you’re seeing relentless crackdowns,” he said, “vilifying legitimate dissent as subversive.”