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Authoritarian Regimes (Like the U.S. and Britain) Treat Reporters Like Terrorists Washington’s Blog

Authoritarian Regimes (Like the U.S. and Britain) Treat Reporters Like Terrorists Washington’s Blog.

The U.S. Government Condemns Authoritarian Regimes Which Use Anti-Terror Laws to Stifle Journalism

It is widely known that authoritarian regimes use “anti-terror” laws to crack down on journalism.

But this extreme tactic is becoming more and more common.  The Committee to Protect Journalistsreported a year ago that terrorism laws are being misused worldwide to crush journalism:

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.

The American government has rightly condemned such abuses.  For example, the U.S. State Department noted last April:

Some governments are too weak or unwilling to protect journalists and media outlets. Many others exploit or create criminal libel or defamation or blasphemy laws in their favor. They misuse terrorism laws to prosecute and imprison journalists. They pressure media outlets to shut down by causing crippling financial damage. They buy or nationalize media outlets to suppress different viewpoints. They filter or shut down access to the Internet. They detain and harass – and worse.

The State Department condemned Burundi in 2012 for treating journalists as terrorists.

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

The State Department rightly announced in 2012:

We are deeply concerned about the Ethiopian government’s conviction of a number of journalists and opposition members under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. This practice raises serious questions and concerns about the intent of the law, and about the sanctity of Ethiopians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

The arrest of journalists has a chilling effect on the media and on the right to freedom of expression. We have made clear in our ongoing human rights dialogue with the Ethiopian government that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are fundamental elements of a democratic society.

As Secretary Clinton has said, “When a free media is under attack anywhere, all human rights are under attack everywhere. That is why the United States joins its global partners in calling for the release of all imprisoned journalists in every country across the globe and for the end to intimidation.”

Last October – in response to respected Moroccan journalist Ali Anouzla being arrested 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.

U.S. and U.K. Do the Exact Same Thing

Unfortunately, the American and British governments are doing the exact same thing.

The British High Court just ruled that Glenn Greenwald’s partner could be treated like a terrorist because he was trying to deliver leaked documents to reporters.

Amnesty International writes:

It is clearly deeply troubling if laws designed to combat terrorism can be used against those involved in reporting stories of fundamental public interest. There is no question the ruling will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the future.

Indeed, the British government considers the following activities to constitute terrorism:

The disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government [or] made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause.

The ACLU’s Ben Wizner satirically writes:

Relax, everyone. You’re not terrorists unless you try “to influence a government.” Just type what you’re told.

The U.S. government is targeting whistleblowers in order to keep its hypocrisy secret … so that it cankeep on doing the opposite of what it tells other countries to do.

As part of this effort to suppress information which would reveal the government’s hypocrisy, the American government – like the British government – is treating journalists as terrorists.

Journalism is not only being criminalized in America, but investigative reporting is actually treated liketerrorism.

Veteran reporters and journalists say that the Obama administration is the most “hostile to media” of any administration in history.

The government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws (and here). For example, after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing aboutbad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge

After the government’s spying on the Associated Press made it clear to everyone that the government is trying to put a chill journalism, the senior national-security correspondent for Newsweek tweeted:

Serious idea. Instead of calling it Obama’s war on whistleblowers, let’s just call it what it is: Obama’s war on journalism.

Moreover:

  • The Bush White House worked hard to smear CIA officersbloggers and anyone else who criticized the Iraq war
  • In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)

And the American government has been instrumental in locking up journalists in America (and here),Yemen and elsewhere for the crime of embarrassing the U.S. government.

The FBI Admits its Primary Focus is NOT Law Enforcement | A Lightning War for Liberty

The FBI Admits its Primary Focus is NOT Law Enforcement | A Lightning War for Liberty.

Recently, the FBI made a significant change to its self-proclaimed primary focus in its fact sheet from “law enforcement” to “national security.” This change merely confirms what I and countless others have claimed to be true for quite some time. That the entire regulatory, security and intelligence apparatus of these United States has been redirected away from protecting the Constitution and the rule of law, toward a narrow focus on protecting the economic and social positions of the oligarch class at all costs under the guise of a “war on terror.” We have seen many signs of cronyism at the FBI for decades now, something most accurately pointed out in the priceless image “All My Heroes Have FBI Files.”

While this change to the FBI fact sheet is just confirmation of something we already knew, it’s still mind-boggling to see it shoved right in our faces:

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 2.52.09 PM

TechDirt covered this story well. Here are some excerpts:

A couple years ago, it was revealed that the FBI noted in one of its “counterterrorism training manuals” that FBI agents could “bend or suspend the law and impinge upon the freedoms of others,” which seemed kind of odd for a government agency who claimed its “primary function” was “law enforcement.” You’d think that playing by the rules would be kind of important. However, as John Hudson at Foreign Policy has noted, at some point last summer, the FBI quietly changed its fact sheet, so that it no longer says that “law enforcement” is its primary function, replacing it with “national security.”

Of course, I thought we already had a “national security” agency — known as the “National Security Agency.” Of course, while this may seem like a minor change, as the article notes, it is the reality behind the scenes. The FBI massively beefed up resources focused on “counterterrorism” and… then let all sorts of other crimes slide. Including crimes much more likely to impact Americans, like financial/white collar fraud.

So… what has the FBI been doing? Well, every time we hear anything about the FBI and counterterrorism, it seems to be a case where the FBI has been spending a ton of resources to concoct completely made up terrorism plots, duping some hapless, totally unconnected person into taking part in this “plot” then arresting him with big bogus headlines about how they “stopped” a terrorist plot that wouldn’t have even existed if the FBI hadn’t set it up in the first place. And this is not something that the FBI has just done a couple times. It’s happened  over  and  over  and over  and  over  and  over  and  over and  over  and  over  and  over  and  over  and  over  and  over again. And those are just the stories that we wrote about that I can find in a quick search. I’m pretty sure there are a bunch more stories that we wrote about, let alone that have happened. 

All of these efforts to stop their own damn “plots” screams of an agency that feels it needs to “do something” when there’s really nothing to be done. Thousands of agents were reassigned from stopping real criminals to “counterterrorism” and when they found there were basically no terrorists around, they just started making their own in order to feel like they were doing something… and to have headlines to appease people upstairs. The government seems to have gone collectively insane when it comes to anything related to “terrorism.” 

Once again ladies and and gentlemen: USA! USA!

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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