Tag Archives: Freedom of the press

Espionage Act Reform Bill Would Protect Journalists Like Julian Assange, by Kevin Gosztola

A new bill, which probably has little chance of becoming law, would make only government employees with security clearances criminally liable for revealing classified information. From Kevin Gosztola at mintpressnews.com:

Shadowproof — Under legislation proposed in Congress, the United States government would not be able to prosecute journalists like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who publish classified information.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Ro Khanna introduced the Espionage Act Reform Act to reaffirm “First Amendment protections for journalists” and ensure “whistleblowers can effectively report waste, fraud, and abuse to Congress.”

Wyden declared in a press statement, “The Espionage Act currently provides sweeping powers for a rogue attorney general like Bill Barr or unscrupulous president like Donald Trump to target journalists and whistleblowers who reveal information they’d rather keep secret. This bill ensures only personnel with security clearances can be prosecuted for improperly revealing classified information.”

It would protect the rights of members of the press that “solicit, obtain, or publish government secrets” from prosecution.

The legislation would also protect disclosures of classified information related to signals intelligence to any member of Congress.

Whistleblower protections would be able to provide classified information to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and inspector generals to help them investigate privacy abuses. The government would not be able to invoke secrecy laws to shut down reviews of their conduct.

Additionally, a summary [PDF] indicates it would shield “cybersecurity experts from prosecution when they publish research showing discoveries of government backdoors in encryption algorithms.”

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Humanity Is Making A Very Important Decision When It Comes To Assange, by Caitlin Johnstone

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?” Caitlin Johnstone asks the only questions that matter. From Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The propagandists have all gone dead silent on the WikiLeaks founder they previously were smearing with relentless viciousness, because they no longer have an argument. The facts are all in, and yes, it turns out the US government is certainly and undeniably working to exploit legal loopholes to imprison a journalist for exposing its war crimes. That is happening, and there is no justifying it.

So the narrative managers, by and large, have gone silent.

Which is good. Because it gives us an opening to seize control of the narrative.

It’s time to go on the offensive with this. Assange supporters have gotten so used to playing defense that it hasn’t fully occurred to us to go on a full-blown charge. I’ve been guilty of this as well; I’ll be letting myself get bogged down in some old, obsolete debate with someone about some obscure aspect of the Swedish case or something, not realizing that none of that matters anymore. All the narrative manipulations that were used to get Assange to this point are impotent, irrelevant expenditures of energy compared to the fact that we now have undeniable evidence that the US government is working to set a precedent which will allow it to jail any journalist who exposes its misdeeds, and we can now force Assange’s smearers to confront this reality.

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

That’s the debate now. Not Russia. Not Sweden. Not whether he followed proper bail protocol or washed his dishes at the embassy. That’s old stuff. That’s obsolete. That’s playing defense.

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First They Came for Assange… by Danny Sjursen

If Assange is extradited to the US, anything other than a show trial will find him protected by the First Amendment. Of course, that doesn’t answer the question as to whether he’ll get anything but a show trial. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

“WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.”
~
Donald Trump, October 10 2016, Wilkes-Barre, PA

“This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.”
~ Donald Trump, October 31, 2016 in Warren, MI

Back in the day, not so long ago, The Donald loved him some WikiLeaks. He said so on at least five occasions out on the campaign trail – in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and Michigan. That was when WikiLeaks, ostensibly at least, served his purposes by releasing hacked DNC emails that were rather unflattering to his opponent, Hillary Clinton. The MAGA crew must’ve agreed with him regarding the Julian Assange-headed web publication at the time: Trump carried all four battleground states, which propelled him into the White House. He’s had more than three years, now, to acclimate to his new digs and, somewhere along the way, pulled a 180 on Assange, whom his administration now labels “an enemy of the state who must be brought down.” So it is that this week, Assange began the fight – perhaps, quite literally, for his life – in the UK against the Justice Department’s stated intent to extradite and try him in the United States.

A journalist, a publisher, has been labeled by the U.S. Government as an “Enemy of America.” Now that’s dangerous language with scary historical precedent in America and abroad. Recall that the term has been used against “unfriendly” press elements by others: the military junta in Myanmar; Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez; Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, President Richard “The press is your enemy” Nixon; and, you know, Cambodia’s Pol Pot, and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, for starters. In our own history, press suppression, especially in times of war, is as American as apple pie. During World War I, the (still on the books) 1917 Espionage Act was usedto wage all-out combat against any and all critical media sources. Sometimes persecution bordered on the Orwellian absurd. For example, in September 1918, even The Nation was banned from the mail for four days by the US Postal Service simply for criticizing the pro-war labor leader Samuel Gompers.

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Punishing the Free Speech of Julian Assange, by Andrew P. Napolitano

Rock solid precedent and the First Amendment support Julian Assange, and if American justice is not completely corrupted (a debatable assumption), they will carry the day for Assange if he’s extradited from the UK. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” — First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

In the oral argument of the famous U.S. Supreme Court cases known collectively as the Pentagon Papers Case, the late Justice William O. Douglas asked a government lawyer if the Department of Justice views the “no law” language in the First Amendment to mean literally no law. The setting was an appeal of the Nixon administration’s temporarily successful efforts to bar The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing documents stolen from the Department of Defense by a civilian employee, Daniel Ellsberg.

The documents were a government-written history of the Vietnam War, which revealed that President Lyndon B. Johnson and his secretaries of defense and state and the military’s top brass materially misrepresented the status of the war to the American people. Stated differently, they regularly, consistently and systematically lied to the public and the news media.

Though LBJ was retired, Nixon did not want this unvarnished version of the war he was still fighting to make its way into the public arena. The Nixon DOJ persuaded a federal district court judge to enjoin the publication of the documents because they contained classified materials and they had been stolen.

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Assange’s Extradition Hearing Reveals Trump’s War on Free Press, by Nozomi Hayase

There were no real surprises during the first day of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing. The US government is trying to criminalize journalism and the unauthorized revelation of its secrets. From Nozomi Hayase at antiwar.com:

On Monday, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange’s one-week extradition hearing began at Woolwich Crown Court in SouthEast London. The judge heard the opening arguments for the prosecution and defense. The prosecution began, accusing the journalist who exposed the US government’s war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan of espionage charges that would carry 175 years in jail.

The US-based investigative journalist Kevin Gosztola, who was at the media annex during the proceeding, reported that U.S. Government barrister, James Lewis QC, said that prosecutors “are not criminalizing the publication of classified materials but rather the publication of names of informants or dissidents who help the US and allies in military operations.”

Gosztola noted that James Lewis QC “listed off specific documents that Assange is accused of releasing which allegedly contained names of ‘human sources’ that were endangered.” When asked by the judge if the offense of publishing would extend to a newspaper, the Prosecution replied, “1989 Official Secrets Act would cover [that]” and “If a journalist or newspaper publishes secret information likely to cause harm in the categories, it commits an offense.”

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Don’t Be Fooled by the Deplatforming of Facebook, by Tom Luongo

Many of the people taking shots at Facebook and other social media giants’ control of the “narrative” don’t want anything resembling free speech or a free press, they simply want to exercise their own control over those companies. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The push for speech control escalates. There is now a concentration of stories concerning social media companies and their role in shaping political thought.

We are nine months from a pivotal presidential election in the U.S. and the push is on to ensure that the outcome goes the way those in power want it to.

Three times in as many weeks billionaire busybody George Soros has attacked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, demanding he be removed because he is working to re-elect Donald Trump.

This seems like an absurdity. But it isn’t. It’s all part of the game plan.

Create a controversy that isn’t real to seed a narrative that there’s a problem in need of a solution. Facebook has been the center of this controversy to inflame passions on both sides of the political aisle to ensure the desired outcome.

They want regulation of all social media companies to create unscalable barriers to entry for new ones while curtailing free speech on the existing ones.

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The Long Shadow of World War I and America’s War on Dissent, Parts 1 and 2, Danny Sjursen

World War I was not just an unnecessary war for the US, it also sparked a dramatic diminution of Americans’ civil liberties, setting some of the precedents used to justify later abominations, including the Patriot Act. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Part 1

“War is the health of the state.” So said the eerily prescient and uncompromising antiwar radical Randolph Bourne in the very midst of what Europeans called the Great War, a nihilistic conflict that eventually consumed the lives of at least 9 million soldiers, including some 50,000 Americans. He meant, ultimately, that wars – especially foreign wars – inevitably increase the punitive and regulatory power of government. He opposed what Americans commonly term the First World War on those principled grounds. Though he’d soon die a premature death, Bourne had correctly predicted the violations of civil liberties, deceptive propaganda, suppression of immigrants, vigilantism, and press restriction that would result on the home front, even as tens of thousands of American boys were slaughtered in the trenches of France.

This, the war on the free press, free speech, and dissent more generally, is the true legacy of the American war in Europe (1917–18). More disturbing, in the wake of 9/11 and Washington’s two-decade-old wars for the Greater Middle East, the dark, twisted, underbelly of World War I’s legacy has again reared its ugly head. Bipartisan, interventionist presidential administrations – unilaterally tyrannical in foreign affairs – from George W. Bush to Barrack Obama to Donald Trump have sought mammoth expansions of executive power, suppressed civil liberties, trampled on the Constitution, and waged outright war on the press.

All this was done – in 1917 and today – in the name of “patriotism,” what Oscar Wilde (perhaps apocryphally) labeled the “virtue of the vicious.” World War I produced the repressive and now-infamous Espionage and Sedition Acts, along with brutal vigilante attacks on Germans and other immigrants. The 21st century’s endless wars have engendered the equally autocratic USA PATRIOT Act, and their own reinvigorated brand of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim abuses. It is for this reason that a brief reflection on America’s troubled – and oft-forgotten – experience on the home front during the First World War is more relevant than ever.

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WikiLeaks Editor: US Is Saying First Amendment Doesn’t Apply To Foreigners In Assange Case, by Caitlin Johnstone

The US government is arguing that the First Amendment does not apply to foreigners to justify its persecution of Julian Assange. That is simply a lie. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson gave a brief statement to the press after the latest court hearing for Julian Assange’s extradition case in London today, saying the Trump administration is arguing that the First Amendment of the US Constitution doesn’t provide press freedom protection to foreign nationals like Assange.

“We have now learned from submissions and affidavits presented by the United States to this court that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a First Amendment protection,” Hrafnsson said.

“Now let that sink in for a second,” Hrafnsson continued. “At the same time that the US government is chasing journalists all over the world, they claim they have extra-territorial reach, they have decided that all foreign journalists which include many of you here, have no protection under the First Amendment of the United States. So that goes to show the gravity of this case. This is not about Julian Assange, it’s about press freedom.”

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The CIA Wants To Make It Easier To Jail Journalists, and Congress Isn’t Stopping It, by Mac Slavo

How do you get rid of civil liberties and freedoms? One micro-incursion at a time. From Mac Slavo at shtfplan.com:

Free speech has been on the chopping block for a long time.  Journalists are already silenced and have to ask the government for permission before running stories while alternative media is censored and blocked by Google’s search algorithms.  But now it’s getting worse, and Congress isn’t stopping it.

The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) wants to make it a whole lot easier to throw journalists in jail if they say or write the wrong things. According to Tech Dirty, the CIA is pushing for an expansion of a 37-year-old law that would deter journalists from covering national security issues or reporting on leaked documents (such as those Julian Assange posted to Wikileaks and is rotting in a jail cell for).

Why EVERYONE Should Be Outraged At Assange’s Arrest

By now, most have heard that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested. The journalist was forcibly taken from the Ecuadorian embassy. Assange is perhaps most known for leaking Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisor’s emails during the 2016 election.

Thanks to a disillusioned CIA case officer’s actions in 1975, there are currently a few limits to what can or can’t be reported about covert operatives working overseas.

In 1975, Philip Agee published a memoir about his years with the CIA. Attached to his memoir — which detailed his growing discontentment with the CIA’s clandestine support of overseas dictators — was a list of 250 CIA agents or informants. In response to this disclosure, Congress passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), which criminalized disclosing the identity of covert intelligence agents.

The IIPA did what it could to protect journalists by limiting the definition of “covert agent” to agents serving overseas and then only those who were currently working overseas when the disclosure occurred. It also required the government to show proof the person making the disclosure was “engaged in a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose” covert agents. The law was amended in 1999 to expand the coverage to include covert agents working overseas within five years of the disclosure. –Tech Dirty

The CIA wants all of these protections for journalists removed, including the word “overseas.”  This would allow the CIA (and all other intelligence agencies) to designate whoever they want as “protected” by the IIPA in perpetuity, and jail those who report about things the government wants to keep from the prying eyes of the public.

Under the proposed law, any journalist who, say, revealed the names of “covert” CIA officers that had engaged in torture or ordered drone strikes on civilians would now be subject to prosecution — even if the newsworthy actions occurred years or decades prior or the officer in question has always been located in the United States.

In fact, the CIA explicitly referenced the revelations of the agency’s Bush-era torture program in its argument to Congress for IIPA expansion. The New York Times’s Charlie Savage obtained the CIA’s private memo in which it lobbied members of Congress. Under the memo’s “justification” section, the CIA wrote:

“Particularly with the lengths organizations such as WikiLeaks are willing to go to obtain and release sensitive national security information, as well as incidents related to past Agency programs, such as the RDI [Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation — a euphemism used to describe the CIA’s illegal torture program] investigation, the original congressional reasoning mentioned above for a narrow definition of ‘covert agent’ no longer remains valid.” –Gen Medium

Democrats, such as Adam Schiff, are helping make sure journalists rights are trampled and the public doesn’t get any information the government doesn’t want them to have. When you take a good look at his record, Schiff has always favored the secrecy of intelligence agencies over journalists’ rights.

No administration should have the power to prevent journalists from publishing illegal acts undertaken by the government. Ever. For any reason. 

 

After Assange’s Espionage Act Indictment, Police Move Against More Journalists for Publishing Classified Material, by Joe Lauria

The Assange indictment may have opened the floodgates for persecution of journalists. From Joe Lauria at consortiumnews.com:

Less than two months after the arrest of journalist Julian Assange, and two weeks after his indictment under the Espionage Act, emboldened governments have sent the police after journalists who’ve challenged the state.  Joe Lauria reports.

Following the arrest and Espionage Act indictment of Julian Assange a number of police actions against journalists for publishing classified information and other journalistic activity  has heightened fears among mainstream journalists  that they could be next.

Police in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday raided the offices of the taxpayer-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, copying thousands of files related to a 2017 ABC broadcast that revealedallegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

Three Australian Federal Police officers and three police technicians entered ABC’s Sydney headquarters with a search warrant that named two ABC investigative journalists and the network’s news director.  The police demanded to look through the journalists’ emails, ABC reported.

David Anderson, the ABC managing director, said it was “highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way”.

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