Tag Archives | Freedom of Press

Obama’s Justice Department: Trumpeting a New Victory in War on Freedom of the Press

US-DeptOfJustice-SealThere’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism — and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.

Welcome to the Obama Justice Department.

While mouthing platitudes about respecting press freedom, the president has overseen methodical actions to undermine it. We should retire understated phrases like “chilling effect.” With the announcement from Obama’s Justice Department on Monday, the thermometer has dropped below freezing.

You could almost hear the slushy flow of public information turning to ice in the triumphant words of the U.S. attorney who led the investigation after being handpicked by Attorney General Eric Holder: “This prosecution demonstrates our deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets and to prevent future, potentially devastating leaks by those who would wantonly ignore their obligations to safeguard classified information.”

Translation: This prosecution shows the depth of our contempt for civil liberties.Read the rest

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Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

Newseum 5 Freedoms 1st AmendmentThe part of the First Amendment that prohibits “abridging the freedom … of the press” is now up against the wall, as the Obama administration continues to assault the kind of journalism that can expose government secrets.

Last Friday the administration got what it wanted – an ice-cold chilling effect — from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case of New York Times reporter James Risen. The court “delivered a blow to investigative journalism in America by ruling that reporters have no First Amendment protection that would safeguard the confidentiality of their sources in the event of a criminal trial,” the Guardian reported.

The Executive Branch fought for that ruling — and is now celebrating. “We agree with the decision,” said a Justice Department spokesman. “We are examining the next steps in the prosecution of this case.” The Risen case, and potentially many others, are now under the ominous shadow of the Appeals Court’s pronouncement: “There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify … in criminal proceedings.”

At the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founder Trevor Timm calls the court ruling “the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades” and asserts that the court “eviscerated that privilege.” He’s not exaggerating.… Read the rest

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US Government ‘Seized AP Phone Records’

04c Freedom Of PressVia Al Jazeera:

The US government reportedly secretly seized telephone records of reporters and offices belonging to Associated Press news agency for a two-month period last year, the agency has said.

The Associated Press on Monday described the action, which targeted its correspondents, as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into news-gathering operations.

AP Chief Executive Gary Pruitt, in a letter posted on the agency’s website, said the AP was informed last Friday that the Justice Department gathered records for more than 20 phone lines assigned to the agency and its reporters.

“There can be no possible justification for such an over-broad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” Pruitt said in the letter, which was addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder.

An AP story on the records seizure said the government would not say why it sought the records.

But it noted that US officials have previously said the US Attorney’s Office was conducting a criminal investigation into information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaeda plot to detonate a bomb on a plane bound for the US.

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Anti-Obama Journalist Claims Drones Are Following Him

This may be paranoid fantasies, but it’s bound to actually happen sooner or later. Via Russia Today:

Journalist Joseph Farah says the aircraft he saw hover above his rural Northern Virginia home recently was a government surveillance drone, and he believes the unwelcome visit was just a step in the Obama administration’s war against liberty.

“I’m taking my dog for a walk and guess what I see right over the tree line right above my head is a drone,” Farah, the editor of World Net Daily, tells radio host Alex Jones this week.

“I don’t live in the city, I don’t live in a populated area, I live in one of the most rural places you could possibly live in Northern Virginia and there could only be one thing that this drone was spying on and that would be me, that would be my property because there’s just nothing else around except woods and deer,” he adds.

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Baton Vs. Camera: Police Openly Hunt for Citizen Journalists (Video)

Via RT:

As the consolidated corporate media machine fails in its function as the fourth estate, citizen journalists and independent press outlets are there to pick up the slack. But this important task is becoming increasingly threatened by the harsh treatment at the hands of the police force. Citizen based media is often targeted by police for reporting unfiltered truths, or they are lumped together with activists/protesters and beaten or arrested.

As more and more Americans choose alternative news sources to find out what is really happening in their country, harassing those providing first hand reports muzzles the free flow of information and poses a threat to democracy. Abby Martin explores the subject for RT.

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Al Jazeera English Blacked Out Across Most Of U.S.

Al JazeeraFreedom of the press? Ryan Grim writes on the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the U.S. cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can’t do is watch the network directly.

Other than in a handful of pockets across the U.S. — including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.

The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet’s website, where footage can be seen streaming live.

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Welcome to Iceland: ‘Press Freedom Haven’

iceland_parliamnet_0WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has been all over Scandinavia lately. First a columnist position for a Swedish tabloid, now he’s in Iceland to help parliament protect the freedom of speech in the media. From RTÉ:

After Iceland’s near-economic collapse laid bare deep-seated corruption, the country aims to become a safe haven for journalists and whistleblowers from around the globe by creating the world’s most far-reaching freedom of information legislation.

The project is being developed with the help of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

It flies in the face of a growing tendency of governments trying to stifle a barrage of secret and sometimes embarrassing information made readily available by the internet.

On 16 June a unanimous parliament voted in favour of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a resolution aimed at protecting investigative journalists and their sources.

‘We took all the best laws from around the world and pulled them together, just like tax havens do, in order to create freedom of information and expression, a transparency haven,’ Birgitta Jonsdottir, the member of parliament behind the initiative, said.

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