Excerpts from an email by the author
I had the pleasure of participating in a press conference with Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich at the Free Press Media Reform Conference in Memphis. I'm sure you'll all be delighted to hear that Kucinich has been named to chair the newly-formed Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has oversight over all domestic issues including election reform.
It was quite awesome to be sitting in the front row, feeling like Helen Thomas dreaming up questions to ask a presidential candidate. Other bloggers and independent journalists there pressed Kucinich about election reform issues.
Here are his comments. . .
On supporting paper ballots in all elections:
He replied "I've had discussions with committee staff to set hearings on integrity of the electoral process...This issue of election integrity is right up there with peace and healthcare and all the other issues the people are concerned about...I'm ready to work with you to heighten public awareness...
Asked about obtaining source codes for voting machines where fraud is suspected, he replied:
"There is urgency in Congress to address this. I'm willing to do this. We need a Federal Election Integrity Act but first we need to go over the most glaring examples...If documentation was destroyed, I have subpoena power." He urged the press and public to send him information on any cases where destruction of voting documents have been destroyed.
Since others asked Kucinich about election reform, I chose to ask him about the need for a federal shield law to protect journalists from increasing intimidation and surveillance, noting that it is now nearly impossible to protect our sources. Here are my notes from that exchange:
I asked Kucinich about protection for journalists who tell the truth. Journalists in the US have recently been jailed for not turning over records. For example, I told him, independent journalist-videographer Jason Wolfe has been in jail 144 days for refusing to give the FBI videotape he filmed of an anti-war demonstration. His mother is here today. The Bush administration has threatened to charge journalists with treason for publishing classified documents, even if they don't know they are classified. Now the President claims the right to read our mail and eavesdrop on our conversations without warrants. As a journalist, I cannot protect my sources.
Kucinich invited Josh's mother to the front of the room, where he embraced her and urged her to tell Josh "Keep the faith. Courage." He asked her to send him details of her son's plight and pledged to follow up. Talk about a photo op!
I asked him if we need a federal shield law to protect journalists. He replied, "I would be willing to hold hearings on journalists who have been prosecuted or persecuted because of defense of the First Amendment. One of the founding matters in our country is a free and unfettered press. I think there should have been an inquire into why Dan Rather was fired...Help me build a case so that journalists can know their plight will be known and secondly have a shield law. I would support a federal shield law. This surveillance society needs to be dismantled. The Patriot Acat was a desecration. It should be repealed. Most members of Congress voted for it sight unseen. There is a bipartisan coalition now to take this in a new direction on civil liberties."
For a more detailed story by Miriam Rafferty, check out this quicklink: Quicklink posted by Daniel Geery