House Panel Seeks To Silence Journalists

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Recently, House of Representatives panel discussed potentially amending the Espionage Act to prosecute journalists who report leaked information. In response to several instances where reporters have used information leaked to them by confidential sources to write stories, the panel suggested amending the law, which was enacted in 1917 to prosecute spies and others who divulge information considered sensitive, to punish journalists who do not reveal their sources. According to the LA Times, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R – SC) said “Put them in front of the grand jury. You either answer the question or you’re going to be held in contempt and go to jail, which is what I thought all reporters aspire to do anyway.”

No journalist has been prosecuted under the Espionage Act before, and the idea is more than chilling towards those who believe that one of the major functions of media should be to hold government accountable for its actions. Such thinking is a cornerstone of the First Amendment, which according to Rep. James Sensebrenner (R-Wis), needs limitations. The Christian Science Monitor reports Sensebrenner said:

We’ve got the constitutional issue about the First Amendment protecting the freedom of the press, but there has to be a balance. I feel that there has to be some self-restraint on the part of the press, saying we have this information but it would be tremendously damaging to our nation if it was published.

Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), who’s made headlines recently for trying to revive SOPA via a new bill called the Intellectual Property Attache Act, suggested that news outlets real motivation behind publishing leaked information is self promotion, rather than government accountability and transparency. In a statement, Smith asked “What are the boundaries of free speech?” He also said that many leaks come from “highly-placed Administration officials” and that if true, “this means that Administration officials are weakening our national security and endangering American lives.”

In addition to suggesting that journalists should be imprisoned for doing their job (reporting on what’s happening, protecting their sources from retribution, etc), Smith also penned a column earlier this month perpetuating the myth media is “liberal,” saying that the public’s confidence in media has eroded because of liberal bias. Smith said since media under reported President Obama’s absence at the UN Environmental Conference on Sustainable Development, but criticized George W Bush during his presidency for not attending, it shows a liberal bias in all media. His outlet of choice to pontificate was Newsbusters, a website run by the conservative Media Research Center, both famous for setting out to “expose and combat liberal media bias.”

First, the assumption that “all reporters aspire to go to jail” is completely ludicrous. According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 1,044 journalists were arrested in 2011, nearly 2,000 were physically attacked or threatened, and 66 were killed. In addition, hundreds of bloggers and other independent members of the media were arrested or physically attacked. Additionally, Josh Stearns at Free Press documented nearly 100 arrests of journalists or other indy media reporters at Occupy related protests or events since October of 2011. I personally challenge Rep. Trey Gowdy to contact each one of those reporters and ask them if their harassment, detention, arrest, or assault was something they hoped for.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media.

12 Comments on "House Panel Seeks To Silence Journalists"

  1. it’s pretty obvious that leaked information
    or any type of whistleblowing
    has no deleterious effect on the elite’s or their government

    the criminal activity continues
    the whistleblowers are punished

    which is why they call that place
    The Land of the Free

    • While the value of whistleblowing isn’t currently all that obvious, it is nonetheless very important.

      It is important for posterity to know exactly why certain wrongdoers where dragged to the wall and machine-gunned. Recording that information has to be done in advance of the fun parts.

      • I admire the zeal and courage of the whistleblowers
        but I think their Quixotic moves
        don’t tend to end as well as the Don’s

        if the elite wrong doers are ever dragged to the wall
        the people pulling the triggers will continue their crimes
        because the root of the problem is still beyond human comprehension

        only a breakdown of the entire system
        (which occurs in regular cycles of hundreds of years)
        will bring about the necessary clean slate
        from which to build a new Tower of Babel

        • You’re probably right about the triggermen not showing restraint when the job at hand is finished.

          They generally haven’t in the past.

          But, that’s a chance I’m willing to take.

          I’m not convinced that the whole system must crumble. I think that we can “skim the cream” or more candidly, “shovel out the floaters” and preserve a considerable amount of what I consider to be worth saving.

          The path we’re on right now though, is right off a cliff.

          • no doubt some detritus of this coming collapse
            will find its way into the new whirled order

            but since the time humanity became harnessed
            to electric speed & convenience
            it has been down hill at light speed

            soon the exhaustion of fuel for electricity
            or the exhaust from the fuel for electricity
            will bring about the demise of electricity’s hosts

            first we shape our tools
            and then our tools shape us

  2. I personally found a huge ‘LOL’ in the line ““What are the boundaries of free speech?” 

    I’m hoping it doesn’t matter what laws are passed, there will always be those dedicated to seeking out and sharing information. I feel fucking grateful for the sacrifice in the face of….. this mess.

    • Marklar_Prime | Jul 26, 2012 at 4:42 am |

      Unfortunately they seem to be much more restrictive than the boundaries of ‘Congress shall make NO law,… etc.’ which has been stretched out like a pair of Barbara Bush’s sweat pants.

  3. chinagreenelvis | Jul 25, 2012 at 3:27 am |

    What a fucktard.

  4. chinagreenelvis | Jul 25, 2012 at 3:29 am |

    There is NO SUCH THING as “information that is damaging to the nation,” only “information that is damaging to the current administration/party in power/congress/etc.”

    Fuck anyone who claims national security in the name of saving their own corrupt asses. Fuck them so hard that they would sacrifice the ability of the press to expose wrongdoings in future governments.
    Fuck them.

  5. Investinourftre | Jul 25, 2012 at 9:17 am |

    In other words our criminal leaders are tired of being exposed for being the criminals they are.  Ah, i remember Freedom, it was grand while it lasted.  Back to Britain!!

  6. Marklar_Prime | Jul 26, 2012 at 4:38 am |

    House of Representatives, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear bitches.

  7. AverageRandomJoe | Jul 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm |

    I say that sure, journalists should included in the Espionage Act only if we can place a transparency clause in the Constitution as follows.

    The government is accountable to the governed. Both the Legislature and the Executive branches would need to be included.

    Legislature needs to have specific rules on the publicity of bill
    content available to the public for so many days prior to it be voted on
    in each house. Something like 1 working hour per 500 words or 1 sheet
    of letter paper, which ever grants more time, but no less than 1 full
    working day. All bills, laws or external links count as part of the
    count, so if you want to define something and refer to the definition in
    another bill, “See Bill XXXXX” is not 3 words but all the words that
    the reference itself has.

    The Executive branch and the
    Legislative branch (I don’t know if the Judicial needs to be included,
    discussion for another time.) shall retain, store, and preserve all
    recordable information and allow for reasonable public access to those
    records. The legislature can create levels of secrecy in which the
    documents will be hidden from public view, each level with a expiration
    time period, none of which can exceed 20 years. This amount of time
    would allow for the public to discover any conspiracies or illegal
    activity but more than enough time to protect State secrets. Statute of
    Limitations begin when the documents are released to the public, not
    when the crime is committed. All care must be taken on maintaining the
    records. Intentional destruction of any documents or the system
    constitutes treason and negligence will be a lesser crime. This rule
    would include any organization created by law or edict or receives a
    majority of funds from the government.

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