Presumptions of Freedom

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | comments

In earlier blog posts I've speculated on how Consumer-Generated Media may impact journalism. But up above I do promise the "occasional rant," and reading articles like this one from ABC News' blog, "The Blotter," forced me to wonder (and fume) about the longer-term fate of the freedom of the press.

The domestic security czars have been using their newfound powers under the Patriot Act to spy on The Fourth Estate, specifically re: the CIA leaks/Plame investigation. But I thought we were ONLY targeting terrorists? (Dana Perino, deputy press secretary: all national intelligence activities undertaken by the federal government "are lawful, necessary and required for the pursuit of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists.")

From The Blotter:
"FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of leaks at the CIA... Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information ...(via)... an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving (such a subpeona) for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government."
I've scrupulously avoided political musings on this blog, but when journalism is at risk, then PR is at risk, eh? Much more importantly, when a chill wind is allowed to blow across the freedom of the press (liberal, conservative or bone-headed), it does not bode well for the entire American ethos.

It boggles my mind when someone says, "If you aren't doing anything wrong, why would you care if they are spying on you?" It's BECAUSE I am not doing anything wrong that I DO care if the government is spying on me. Does the phrase, "presumed innocent" mean anything to you, My Fellow Americans, my fellow lovers of the U.S. Constitution?

From Daily Kos:
"The terrorists' most dangerous weapon isn't anthrax or planes or dirty bombs; it's fear. Fear is their most destructive weapon because it operates in a stealth manner. Fear is what has caused our government to turn on its citizens and brag that it does so out of courage in the fight against evil. And in that sense, by goading the greatest democracy on earth to view 300 million citizens as the potential enemy, fear has proved to be the most effective weapon of mass destruction of all."

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