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December 5, 2013

Basing WORSE Government on Those that Equate Journalism With Terrorism

By Rob Kall

It is sad that the US and the UK, which used to be the shining examples of press freedom are becoming, instead, excuses and examples that authoritarian regimes will be able to use to justify mistreatment of the press.


From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDujS2UxWwE: CPJ: China Third in Highest Number of Jailed Journalists There has been a worldwide increase in the number of jailed journalists, according to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
CPJ: China Third in Highest Number of Jailed Journalists There has been a worldwide increase in the number of jailed journalists, according to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
(image by YouTube)

Glenn Greenwald has tweeted, " If you wanted to make a list of the world's worst governments, you could begin w/ones equating journalism w/terrorism," in response to a Reuters article, published in the Huffingtonpost.com, " Guardian Newspaper Staff May Face Charges For Assisting Terrorists"
The article reports:
* Guardian newspaper editor summoned to parliament
* Accused by some of helping terrorists by publishing leaks 
* Snowden files exposed extent of government surveillance 
* Senior police officer says considering investigation (Recasts with possibility of criminal investigation)
The article made it clear that the Guardian editors are at risk:
"It appears possible once we look at the material that some people may have committed offences," Dick said. "We need to establish whether they have or they haven't."

David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald who brought the Snowden leaks to world attention, was questioned under anti-terrorism law when he landed at London's Heathrow Airport en route from Berlin to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and computer material he was carrying was seized.

Lawmakers put it to Rusbridger that he had committed an offence under Section 58A of the Terrorism Act which says it is a crime to publish or communicate any information about members of the armed forces or intelligence services.

"It isn't only about what you've published, it's about what you've communicated. That is what amounts, or can amount, to a criminal offence," said committee member Michael Ellis."
Of course, in the USA, a number of people in government, including members of congress have also suggested that people who release documents or who publish the info in the docoment releases are criminals or that they should be treated as a terrorist. Of course, Chelsea Manning has already been prosecuted. But some of these government and congressional people seem willing to go a lot further.

This is an issue that threatens press freedoms worldwide. That's why the UN media rights unit published this article, UK: "National security concerns must never justify intimidating journalists into silence," warn UN experts, which stated:  

"Two United Nations independent experts on freedom of expression and human rights and counter-terrorism announced today they had requested further information from the United Kingdom on the recent detention of David Miranda, partner of the Guardian journalist, Glenn Greenwald, at Heathrow Airport, London, and the reported destruction of computer hard drives by British officials at the Guardian newspaper.

"The protection of national security secrets must never be used as an excuse to intimidate the press into silence and backing off from its crucial work in the clarification of human rights violations," the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, stressed. "The press plays a central role in the clarification of human rights abuses."

"It is clear that the revelations on the extensive mass surveillance initiatives implemented by some Governments needs to be widely debated," Mr. La Rue said. "The intimidation of journalists and newspapers questioning alleged abuses by intelligence bodies is certainly not a contribution to the open debate that needs to take place."

Carl Bernstein writes, in Op-Ed titled, An open letter from Carl Bernstein to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger,
"... your appearance before the Commons today strikes me as something quite different in purpose and dangerously pernicious: an attempt by the highest UK authorities to shift the issue from government policies and excessive government secrecy in the   United States   and Great Britain to the conduct of the press -- which has been quite admirable and responsible in the case of   the Guardian , particularly, and the way it has handled information initially provided by Mr Snowden.
I ndeed, generally speaking, the record of journalists, in Britain and the United States in handling genuine national security information since World War II, without causing harm to our democracies or giving up genuine secrets to real enemies, is far more responsible than the over-classification, disingenuousness, and (sometimes) outright lying by a series of governments, prime ministers and presidents when it comes to information that rightly ought to be known and debated in a free society. Especially in recent years.
You are being called to testify at a moment when governments in Washington and London seem intent on erecting the most serious (and self-serving) barriers against legitimate news reporting -- especially of excessive government secrecy -- we have seen in decades...

...Rather than hauling in journalists for questioning and trying to intimidate them, the Commons would do well to encourage and join that debate over how the vast electronic intelligence-gathering capabilities of the modern security-state can be employed in a manner that gives up little or nothing to real terrorists and real enemies and skilfully uses all our technological capabilities to protect us, while at the same time taking every possible measure to insure that these capabilities are not abused in a way that would abrogate the rights and privacy of law-abiding citizens.

There have always been tensions between such objectives in our democracies, especially in regard to the role of the press. But as we learned in the United States during our experience with the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, it is essential that no prior governmental restraints or intimidation be imposed on a truly free press; otherwise, in such darkness, we encourage the risk of our democracies falling prey to despotism and demagoguery and even criminality by our elected leaders and government officials."

Trevor Timm, of FreedomOfThePressFoundation.org recently wrote an article,  Will the US State Dept Condemn UK's Attempt to Use 'Terrorism' Laws to Suppress Journalism?, which stated,

"In a statement that should send chills down the spine of every reporter, the (UK) government made the unbelievable claim that merely publishing information that has nothing to do with violence still "falls within the definition of terrorism."

"Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism..."

Think about the sheer breadth of that statement. Not only are several Guardian reporters and editors also guilty of engaging in "terrorism" under the UK government's logic, but so are New York Times or Pro Publica journalists who have received the same news-worthy documents for publication. If publishing or threatening to publish information for the purpose "promoting a political or ideological cause" is "terrorism," than the UK government can lock up every major newspaper editorial board that dares write any opinion that strays from the official government line.

No matter one's opinion on the NSA, the entire public should be disturbed by this attack on journalism. In fact, this is exactly the type of attack on press freedom the US State Department regularly condemns in authoritarian countries, and we call on them to do the same in this case.

For example, in January 2012, in response to Ethiopia jailing award-winning journalist Eskinder Nega, the State Department expressed "concern that the application of anti-terrorism laws can sometimes undermine freedom of expression and independent media." Again in June State Department released a statement saying, "The Ethiopian government has used the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to jail journalists and opposition party members for peacefully exercising their freedoms of expression and association."

The 2012 State Department human rights report on Turkey criticizes the country for imprisoning "scores of journalists"most charged under antiterror laws or for connections to an illegal organization."

In April 2013, the State Department cited Burundi for imprisoning radio journalist Hassan Ruvakuki and three of his colleagues for "acts of terrorism."

Just last month, in response to respected Moroccan journalist Ali Anouzla beingarrested under an anti-terror law for linking to a Youtube video, the State Department said, "We are concerned with the government of Morocco's decision to charge Mr. Anouzla. We support freedom of expression and of the press, as we say all the time, universal rights that are an indispensable part of any society."

As the Committee to Protect Journalists noted in their excellent report on the misuse of terror laws, "The number of journalists jailed worldwide hit 232 in 2012, 132 of whom were held on anti-terror or other national security charges. Both are records in the 22 years CPJ has documented imprisonments."

Warping "terrorism" laws to suppress journalism is the hallmark of authoritarian regimes and deserves to be condemned by all. The Miranda case is a classic example of, as the State Department has put it, "misus[ing] terrorism laws to prosecute and imprison journalists."

We call on the State Department to apply the same principle they've applied to these authoritarian regimes and condemn the UK for misusing its "terrorism" laws to suppress journalism and free expression."

It is sad that the US and the UK, which used to be the shining examples of press freedom are becoming, instead, excuses and examples that authoritarian regimes will be able to use to justify mistreatment of the press. it would be sad if Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and other courageous journalists have to move to Brazil, or other safe havens to continue doing the noble journalism they've been doing. 


Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob Kall's Bottom Up Radio Show: Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

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