Monday, May 22, 2006

Atty Gen'l says "Reporters Can Be Prosecuted" - Let's Start with Bob Novak


The United States is tied with Burma - we're imprisoning 4 journalists in Iraq and 1 in Guantanomo Bay.

On ABC's "This Week":
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that he believes journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, citing an obligation to national security.

Technically, reporters aren't doing the publishing. It's the media organizations that they work for that publish. Is Gonzalez going to prosecute the publishers? How about media organizations that report on the reports? If Fox picks up a story that ABC News breaks and Fox reports it, is Roger Ailes going to prison under the 1917 Espionage Act?
The nation's top law enforcer also said the government will not hesitate to track telephone calls made by reporters as part of a criminal leak investigation, but officials would not do so routinely and randomly.

"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Gonzales said, referring to prosecutions. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."

Who protects us from an administration that takes us to war under false claims?
In recent months, journalists have been called into court to testify as part of investigations into leaks, including the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's name as well as the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program.

Can we expect that Bob Novak will be prosecuted for publishing Valerie Plame's name?
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said she presumed that Gonzales was referring to the 1917 Espionage Act, which she said has never been interpreted to prosecute journalists who were providing information to the public.

"I can't imagine a bigger chill on free speech and the public's right to know what it's government is up to — both hallmarks of a democracy — than prosecu reporters," Dalglish said.

I can't imagine a bigger chill on democracy than having an outlaw President and a Congress that refuses to fulfill its Constitutional role of oversight.

Some of the trends noted by the :
• Forty-one journalists whose work appeared primarily on the Web or in other electronic forms were in jail, accounting for just under one-third of the cases worldwide.

• Nine were charged with criminal defamation, the second most common allegation used to imprison journalists worldwide.

• Another five were jailed for reporting what governments called "false" information.

• No charge was publicly disclosed in 11 cases. The United States and Eritrea each account for five such cases.

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