RSSCategory: Censorship

Why the trial of Bradley Manning is about democracy

July 21, 2013 | By | Reply More

At the U.K. Guardian, Yochai Benkler writes that the trial of Bradley Manning is about much more than Manning’s freedom. And it’s about much more than Wikileaks.

[T]his case is about national security journalism, not WikiLeaks. At Monday’s argument in preparation for Thursday’s ruling, the judge asked the prosecution to confirm: does it make any difference if it’s WikiLeaks or any other news organization: New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal? The prosecution answered: “No, it would not. It would not potentially make a difference.”

There are a lot of Americans who immediately write off Manning as a criminal because he leaked “secret” information (many of those people have never bothered to watch “Collateral Murder,” a small but vivid and highly disturbing part of Manning’s leak.

How typical is this of the “fight for freedom” that has been waged in our names? We wouldn’t know, because the information that has come from Iraq over the years is carefully filtered by the American military American press. In woeful ignorance, many Americans fail to see that Manning’s trial is about the right of Americans’s to be informed about what goes on in their name, informed enough to engage in meaningful discussion and informed enough to vote intelligently.

Leak-based journalism is not the be-all-and-end-all of journalism. But ever since the Pentagon Papers, it has been a fraught but critical part of our constitutional checks in national defense. Nothing makes this clearer than the emerging bipartisan coalition of legislators seeking a basic reassessment of NSA surveillance and Fisa oversight following Edward Snowden’s leaks. National defense is special in both the need for, and dangers of, secrecy. As Justice Stewart wrote in the Pentagon Papers case, the press is particularly important in national defense because it is there that the executive is most powerful, and the other branches weakest and most deferential:

In the absence of the governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government. For this reason, it is perhaps here that a press that is alert, aware, and free most vitally serves the basic purpose of the first amendment. For without an informed and free press, there cannot be an enlightened people.


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Our secret court system

July 6, 2013 | By | Reply More

I’m a lawyer and I’d like to study U.S. surveillance court rulings, but I can’t, and you can’t either, because court rulings are secret. Our massively opaque government (all three branches) has truly become Kafkaesque. So much for the People running this country. The NYT reports:

In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.

The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.


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Glenn Greenwald reflects on Edward Snowden’s revelations

June 29, 2013 | By | Reply More

At Huffpo, Glenn Greenwald comments over Skype to the Socialism Conference in Chicago. This is a detailed statement, in which Greenwald revealed that the NSA has the ability to store one billion phone calls each day.


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Lee Camp unleashes ridicule toward big banks who censor chalk protester

June 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

Lee Camp says things that I think, but I also filter them. More and more, I’m feeling that being civil to the forces crushing democracy is not getting us anywhere. Therefore, Camp’s bursts of ridicule toward the rich and abusive are feeling cathartic. This episode takes a look at more abuses by big banks, especially a huge penalty levied toward a man who wrote his bank protests in chalk.


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Non-journalist David Gregory attacks the journalism of Glenn Greenwald.

June 23, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

This is what modern American journalism is coming down to.

Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald blasted NBC host David Gregory on Sunday for publicly entertaining the idea that he should be prosecuted for publishing secret National Security Agency (NSA) documents leaked by former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden.

“To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” Gregory asked the columnist in a Sunday interview.

“I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themself a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” Greenwald shot back. “The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, David — the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way.”

Here’s what journalism is, in the eyes of David Gregory. He eyes are all lit up, as if to say, “Look at me! I’m on a bus with a famous politician!” Check out Gregory’s unwillingness to ask real questions throughout in his interview of Mitt Romney. Start at min 2:50 and see how long you can stand to watch this obeisant poor-excuse for a journalist. He gives up truth-finding in order to maintain a feel-good relationship with Romney. In other words, he is committing journalism malpractice:

I understand Greenwald’s disdain and shortness completely. I am disgusted that Gregory doesn’t understand that a journalist is doing his/her job to confront the government with embarrassing information. I also know that Greenwald, had he been assured of having 20 minutes to answer the question, would have annihilated Gregory with something like this, starting at min 2:30.

Consider also this:

[Greenwald] responds to threats of investigation, etc. by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and others concerning his release of these documents journalism.

The first part of Greenwald’s response: “Let them go ahead and investigate. There’s this document called the Constitution, and one of the things it guarantees is the right of a free press. Which means, as a citizen and as a journalist, I have the absolute Constitutional right to go on and report on what it is my government is doing in the dark and inform my fellow citizens about that action … And I intend to continue to shine light on that and Dianne Feinstein can beat her chest all she wants and call for investigations and none of that’s gonna stop and none of it’s gonna change”…

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Censoring PBS

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

How much is PBS self-censoring? I live in St. Louis, where the PBS affiliate has never included the programming of Democracy Now. Bill Moyers was long a persona non grata according to the powers that be at PBS. These two items are all the evidence you need to know whether PBS censors progressive points of view. Ring of Fire has now provided even more evidence:

America’s Public Broadcasting System, or PBS, is surrendering to private influence of the Billionaire industrialists, the Koch Brothers. “Citizen Koch,” a documentary that exposes the money driven politics that influenced the Wisconsin uprising, was rejected by PBS for fear of offending one of its key contributors, David Koch. The move by PBS was not the failed negotiation as they suggest it was, but a censorship, against their better judgment, to protect the hand that feeds them.


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Journalism malpractice unabated

April 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

At Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Steve Rendall discusses numerous stunning examples, historical and recent, of journalists withholding important stories from the public at the request of the federal government.

Journalism is supposed to hold power to account. That’s the principle implicit in the U.S. Constitution’s singling out a free press for protection. If that principle were respected, the Washington Post’s admission (2/6/13) that it and “several news organizations” made a deal with the White House to withhold the news that the U.S. has a drone base in Saudi Arabia would have been a red flag, triggering widespread discussion of media ethics. But these deals have become so commonplace that the story generated less concern among journalists than did the denial of press access to a recent presidential golf outing.


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Bradley Manning almost prevented the Deepwater Oil spill

April 3, 2013 | By | Reply More

Greg Palaste reports that the information released by Bradley Manning could have, almost, prevented the Deepwater Oil disaster. Manning’s release of data definitely shows corruption by the U.S. in covering up a BP’s dangerous method of capping its underwater wells with nitrogen-laced cement.

It is absurd for the U.S. to accuse Manning of attempting to aid U.S. enemies when Manning did not financially benefit in the least labors, continues to pay a huge price for providing valuable information to the People of the U.S., and his efforts continue to expose the U.S. government as corrupt.


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Big corporate money as a muzzle

April 3, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

In Canada, big corporate money is funding the environmentally horrific tar sands project and the equally despicable effort to muzzle scientists who would otherwise be reporting on the environmental disaster. IO9 reports:

Big money muzzles truth-tellers. “The Canadian government is currently under investigation for its efforts to obstruct the right of the media and public to speak to government scientists. These policies are widely believed to be a part of the government’s unspoken campaign to ensure that oil keeps flowing from the Athabasca tar sands — even if it’s at the cost of free scientific inquiry, the environment, and by consequence, democracy itself.”


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