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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.
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.
- The Pentagon smeared USA Today reporters because they investigated illegal Pentagon propaganda
- Reporters covering the Occupy protests were targeted for arrest
- The Bush White House worked hard to smear CIA officers, bloggers 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)
- The NSA and its British counterpart treated Wikileaks like a terrorist organization, going so far as to target its employees politically, and to spy on visitors to its website
Local Police Train With Special Forces To Raid Farm Houses, Conduct Domestic Raids | The Daily Sheeple
February 17th, 2014
By Brandon Turbeville
On January 20, I wrote an article entitled “Upcoming Military Drill Off Limits To Reporters,” in which I reported on the announcement that South Carolina’s Richland County Sheriff’s Office would be engaged in joint training exercises with unidentified units from Ft. Bragg.
The official Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s press release statedthat “Citizens may see military and departmental vehicles traveling in and around rural and metropolitan areas and may hear ordinance being set off or fired which will be simulated/ blanks and controlled by trained personnel.”
The release also stated that the exercise was being held “Due to Sheriff Leon Lott’s longstanding commitment to making sure that deputies are trained and prepared for every event and potential threat and his desire to assist the military to ensure their preparations.”
It is worth noting that Ft. Bragg hosts some of the U.S. Army’s more elite units such as Special Forces as well as more elite airborne and aviation support units. Ft. Bragg is also home to the elite Delta Force.
Beyond this information, however, very little was known about the drills. That is, until now.
According to independent sources, Special Forces were indeed involved in the drills in concert with local civilian police forces.
Civilian police and military units worked together in practice for setting up and maintaining checkpoints as well as other checkpoint-related drills. Both police and military also worked together to practice chopper insertion – the deployment of troops/operatives by way of helicopters.
What is most disturbing, however, is that, according to sources, both the civilian police and U.S. military forces were also training to raid farm houses and engage in domestic raids.
No wonder the Richland County Sheriff’s Department was so tight-lipped about the operations they were taking part in during the process of these joint drills.
The fact that the police and military are engaging in joint drill exercises in violation of Posse Comitatus and a long-standing American tradition of separation between domestic policing and military activity is concerning enough. However, the fact that they are training for domestic operations such as raiding American farm houses, setting up domestic checkpoints, and conducting other related raids on the home-front should be terrifying to every single American that desires to keep what little shred of freedom they have left.
If the reports of these sources are accurate, the American military and indeed the Richland County Sheriff’s Department clearly see the American people and the people of South Carolina as the enemy.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
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U.S. Plunges to #46 in World Press Freedom Index, Below Romania and Just Above Haiti | A Lightning War for Liberty
One of my most popular posts of 2013 highlighted the decline of America’s once large and enviable middle class. It was titled: How Does America’s Middle Class Rank Globally? #27, and it helped to dispel many myths Americans (particularly the mainstream propaganda media) continue to tell to themselves.
As you might expect, the economic decline of a nation into rule by a handful of corrupt oligarchs will have many other negative repercussions. One of these is a loss of civil rights and freedoms that many of us have taken for granted. Reporters Without Borders puts out their Press Freedom Index every year, and the 2014 ranking came out today. It was not a good showing for the USSA. Specifically, the U.S. registered one of the steepest falls of all nations, down 13 slots to the #46 position. As the screen shot shows, just above Haiti and just below Romania.
More coverage from the AFP:
Paris (AFP) – Conflicts continued to weigh heavily on the media last year but press freedom was also under increasing threat from abuses by democracies like the United States, Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday.
In its annual World Press Freedom Index, the Paris-based media rights watchdog warned of the “growing threat worldwide” from the “tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner”.
The United States was singled out for its pursuit of intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the conviction of WikiLeaks informer Bradley Manning and the secret seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.
The group, known by its French acronym RSF, said the United States had suffered “one of the most significant declines” in press freedom last year, dropping 13 places to 46th in the 180-country index, wedged between Romania and Haiti.
“Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it,” RSF said.
Repeat after me: USA! USA!
Full article here.
Congressional leaders and representatives of the US military-intelligence apparatus have stepped up their threats against Edward Snowden and the journalists who have worked with him to expose massive illegal spying by the National Security Agency (NSA).
At a hearing Tuesday of the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, repeatedly suggested that journalists who received leaked NSA documents from Snowden and wrote articles about them were guilty of criminal acts.
These statements follow published death threats against Snowden from unnamed military and intelligence officials and demands from the Obama administration that he plead guilty and turn himself in.
Rogers engaged his main witness at Tuesday’s hearing, FBI Director James Comey, in a lengthy exchange over whether an unnamed journalist would be guilty of “fencing stolen material” if he published articles based on the Snowden revelations. Because reporters are paid for their work, Rogers suggested, they were engaged in selling stolen material for profit. He posed the question to Comey, “If I’m hocking stolen classified material that I’m not legally in possession of for personal gain and profit, is that not a crime?”
Comey was more cautious in his public utterances, agreeing that a journalist who sold stolen jewelry was guilty of a crime, but suggesting stolen documents might not be as clear a case. “I think that’s a harder question because it involves a news-gathering function,” he said. It “could have First Amendment implications,” he added. [Emphasis added].
However, Comey did not rule out prosecution. Rogers continued, “So if I’m a newspaper reporter for—fill in the blank—and I sell stolen material, is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?”
Comey eventually declared, after being pressed by Rogers, “I don’t want to talk about the case in particular because it’s an active investigation of ours.”
Rogers then asked, “It’s an active investigation for accomplices brokering in stolen information?” Comey replied, “We are looking at the totality of the circumstances around the theft and promulgation.”
After the hearing, Rogers made it clear that one of the journalists he had in mind was Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian reporter who has written numerous articles on the NSA based on his access to the trove of documents taken by Snowden. “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information, that’s how they’re terming it,” Rogers claimed. “A thief selling stolen material is a thief.”
Rogers also said, referring to Snowden himself, “I can tell you from a whole series of classified meetings, the folks who do this for a living believe he is under the influence of the Russians.”
The obvious conclusion of the exchange between Rogers and Comey is that the Obama administration is considering criminal charges against Greenwald, as well as filmmaker Laura Poitras and Washington Post contributor Barton Gellman, who also have access to the Snowden documents and have reported on them.
Greenwald strongly defended his actions and the actions of his fellow journalists in interviews and Twitter postings after the House committee hearing. “There’s something that has become pretty sick about DC political culture if the idea of prosecuting journalists is now this mainstream,” he said on Twitter. “The main value in bandying about theories of prosecuting journalists is the hope that it will bolster the climate of fear for journalism.”
No journalist has ever been prosecuted in the United States on the claim that receiving unauthorized information was akin to receipt of stolen goods. Greenwald added, “What they’re trying to do is to remove it from the realm of journalism so that they can then criminalize it.”
The McCarthy-style threats against journalists by Rogers came amid mounting threats against Snowden and his allies by top military-intelligence officials.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking at another hearing Tuesday, referred to the journalists who have extensively reported on the NSA as “accomplices” of Snowden, a term suggesting co-conspirators in a criminal enterprise. This comment followed Clapper’s testimony the previous week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he denounced Snowden as the architect of the “most damaging theft of intelligence information in our history.”
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who commands the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Matt Olsen, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, claimed that Snowden’s revelations had resulted in changes in how Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups conduct their communications activities.
“What we’ve seen in the last six to eight months is an awareness by these groups…of our ability to monitor communications and specific instances where they’ve changed the ways in which they communicate to avoid being surveilled,” Olsen said.
This is both unprovable and likely bogus, since the vast bulk of the Snowden revelations concern US government spying on ordinary citizens of the United States and other countries to accumulate a gigantic database of all the communications linking all individuals throughout the world. This has nothing to do with fighting terrorism and everything to do with profiling the population politically and preparing the military-intelligence apparatus to suppress movements from below that would threaten the profits and property of the financial aristocracy.
The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing coincided with the release of a 27-page report, “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community,” filed annually with Congress by the director of national intelligence (DNI). This year’s report for the first time cites internal leaks as a major danger to US national security and actually ranks such leaks ahead of terrorism as a threat.
“Trusted insiders with the intent to do harm can exploit their access to compromise vast amounts of sensitive and classified information as part of a personal ideology or at the direction of a foreign government,” the report warns. “The unauthorized disclosure of this information to state adversaries, non-state activists or other entities will continue to pose a critical threat.”
The DNI report now lists terrorism only third in its list of threats. Top billing is given to the danger of cyberattacks, with Russia, China, Iran and North Korea cited as the main concerns. This list gives a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes discussions in the Pentagon, CIA and State Department, where there is increasing focus on the prospect of direct military conflict with Russia and China, countries with the second- and third-largest nuclear arsenals after the United States.
The ranking of Snowden-type leakers ahead of terrorism as a threat has the most ominous implications. Terrorism has been used as the justification for an unprecedented assertion of presidential power to order the killing of American citizens without trial or any other judicial process. Obama has acknowledged giving the first such order, which was carried out in 2011 when a CIA-fired drone missile killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Islamic cleric living in Yemen.
If Snowden is an even bigger threat, as the DNI report suggests, what is to stop the “commander in chief” from ordering his assassination? In the course of the past month, there have been increasingly bloodthirsty declarations from NSA operatives and congressional Republicans advocating such an operation.
The White House has not joined in the open discussion of killing Snowden, but Obama’s style in such matters has been to act first and talk about it later.
International journalists make a stand in solidarity with imprisoned Al Jazeera staff.
Jessica Hatcher Last updated: 04 Feb 2014 19:31
Gagged by the flag: East Africa journalists protest against Egypt’s crackdown on journalists [Phil Moore]
Nairobi, Kenya – “Journalists are never supposed to become the story,” wrote Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste in a letter that was smuggled out of Tora Prison in Cairo, where he is currently being detained. “Apart from the print reporter’s byline or the broadcaster’s sign-off, we are supposed to remain in the background as witnesses to, or agents for, the news; never as its subject.”
At 10am on February 4 in Greste’s home city, Nairobi, co-workers, rival broadcasters, photographers and journalists made no apology for breaking this rule by staging a peaceful protest in solidarity with him.
Almost a hundred people, many wearing Greste’s face on T-shirts and carrying banners and placards, marched to the Egyptian embassy and planted themselves outside its gates. They stayed there for three hours, overlooked by the baking sun and several divisions of the Kenyan police. Meanwhile, a parallel social media campaign went viraland reached millions. “What if all journalists were gagged?”tweeted Channel Four News’ International Editor, Lindsey Hilsum. Like many, Hilsum posted an accompanyingpicture of her with her mouth taped up.
“The whole worldwide campaign has gone beyond what we had imagined,” said Peter’s brother, Andrew Greste. “Our view is that we have to keep going to continue to build pressure on the Egyptian government until they release them. This is what Peter also wants.”
Egypt’s secret police arrested the award-winning Australian journalist Greste and two of his Egyptian colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, in Cairo on December 29.
“It’s almost 40 days now since their incarceration began,” said Al Jazeera correspondent Mohamed Adow, addressing the media outside the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi. “We believe they’ve done no wrong. They’ve just been doing their work in the best way they could.” The United Nations, international rights bodies, and media personalities have all called on the Egyptian government to release the journalists, Adow said.
Journalism does not equal terrorism
At the embassy gates, broadcaster and head of the regional Foreign Correspondents’ Association, Robyn Kriel, read aloud from an open letter to Greste: “Those of us who are journalists stand as you. ‘We are all Peter Greste’ is one of the slogans we are bearing aloft. Others among us stand here today for the tenets of truth, freedom of the press, and democracy. Journalism does not equal terrorism; you have committed no crime… We respect and applaud your honesty and bravery, and we say, as one, that this is our battle, too.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists confirms that at least ten journalists are currently incarcerated in Egypt. “There’s more likely around twenty to twenty-five actually in prison at the moment, one of the largest crackdowns on journalists we have seen in a long time,” said Tom Rhodes, the organisation’s East Africa representative. Rhodes said that press freedom in Egypt today is in some ways no better, and in some maybe worse, than under longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, ousted in the 2011 uprising.
Last week, Egyptian prosecutors announced their intention to place criminal charges on 20 people working for the Al Jazeera network. Rhodes said that the CPJ fears that a crackdown on an international media organisation at such an unprecedented level bodes even worse for the treatment of local journalists.
“It’s so tragic, especially when you consider the struggle and the blood, sweat and tears that the Egyptian people undertook to develop these freedoms – such as press freedom,” said Rhodes. “And now that space is being diminished once again. When we’re sitting here fighting for the release of our friend Peter Greste, we’re really sitting here trying to fight for the freedom of the country as well.”
Boniface Mwangi, an award-winning documentary photographer and one of Kenya’s most prolific young activists, turned out in support of his friend and fellow journalist. But like most of the protesters here, he also has a vested interest in fighting for a free press. “So far, this has happened in Egypt. But who knows where Kenya’s going to go? I’m not just here for Peter, I’m here for myself.”
While the inexperienced yet determined picket waited in the driveway of the Egyptian embassy, two representatives from the protest group went inside to meet the deputy ambassador and deliver their open letter to Greste. The deputy ambassador said that the embassy would notify the Egyptian state of their concerns but emphasised that the state cannot intervene in the Egyptian courts – as is the case around the world. Robyn Kriel, chairperson of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa, relayed the consulate’s message to the waiting crowds. “We mean business,” she said.
Photographer Phil Moore is shooting a series of photographs depicting members of the press and public gagged by an Egyptian flag. “As journalists, it’s imperative that we have the right to work freely and so when our colleagues are detained, it’s essential that we remind the world what that detention means. In this case, the flag represents the silencing of journalists in Egypt, and I hope that by documenting people’s disdain, these images will in some way help to maintain a spotlight on the Egyptian crackdown.”
According to Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Adow, the network has not yet been supplied with any information by the Egyptian government, and nor have they been formally notified of any charges against Greste and his colleagues.
“If he’s not released, we’ll be back,” was the message left behind by protesters after they packed up their placards. A determined Robyn Kriel concluded: “We are not going to rest until we see Greste.”
Follow Jessica Hatcher on Twitter: @jessiehatcher
Editor’s note: The Egyptian prosecutor has accused Al Jazeera of producing “false news” in the country. We have collated all of the TV reports produced by Al Jazeera teams from the field between July 2013 and the arrest of our journalists. We make no apologies for telling all sides of the story, and we stand by our journalism. Judge for yourself on our special coverage page: Journalism under fire: Where is the “false news”?
To take part in the viral social media campaign, tweet a photo of yourself using the hashtag: #freeAJstaff
Hong Kong Newspaper Punished for Its Political Stance, Says Publisher
HONG KONG—Mainland Chinese companies have stopped advertising in Hong Kong’s free daily newspaper am730 for political reasons, the paper’s founder Shih Wing-ching claimed recently.
Shih wrote in his opinion column in am730 on Jan. 16 that this withdrawal of funds came as a united front, indicating that there was a uniform reason behind all of the companies’ decisions. He suspected that the actions were motivated by politics rather than commercial interests, because otherwise there would be no reason for the banking and telecommunications industries to act simultaneously.
Shih also stated that he will not yield to any political forces or change the direction of his paper against his will. If worst comes to worst, he will stop running the paper.
He added that the yearly advertising costs of these Chinese companies have exceeded 10 million HKD, while am730’s entire earnings are only 10 to 20 million HKD (US$1.3 to $2.6 million). If these companies continue to withhold their advertising, a large portion of am730’s earnings will vanish.
A very successful businessman and the founder of Centaline Property Agency Limited, Shih said that if a business cannot keep its balance financially, it will not go far.
Financial columnist and senior media professional Liao Shi-ming said, “At present, sales of Chinese companies in Hong Kong have grown large. It has become unfeasible for a daily newspaper to operate relying only on the sales of advertising to local enterprises or foreign investors.”
“This forces Hong Kong media operators to face the test at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party,” Liao said.
According to Liao’s analysis, am730 is classified as conservative and moderate among Hong Kong newspapers. While the paper seldom criticizes the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) directly and never touches the “sensitive” issue of the CCP’s persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, the paper holds firm to the core values of Hong Kong, she said.
However, am730 did mention Falun Gong in a Jan. 3 article called “Hong Kong artists stand by Epoch Times” about Hong Kong celebrities sending New Year’s greetings to readers through the Epoch Times.
The article included quotes from people identified as netizens, showing concern for the celebrities about the Epoch Times “Falun Gong” background. The quotes suggested that publishing greetings in the Epoch Times would cause trouble for the celebrities and prevent them from visiting mainland China, where Falun Gong is severely oppressed. The paper did not contact the celebrities directly to get their opinions about the netizens’ comments.
Shih told the Epoch Times that he was not informed about this article, but he said am730 should have checked with the celebrities before reporting these comments.
Liao believed that am730 attempted with this unusual article as to show its position to the CCP, indicating that the paper would not step out of line on the issue that CCP considers most sensitive and most fears to see discussed openly.
“That is a case of obviously siding with the wicked and bullying good people,” Liao said.
Liao appealed to Hong Kong media to hold on to basic morals when facing critical moments, and avoid siding with the CCP against their conscience.
Translated by Y.K. Lu. Written in English by Sally Appert
- AP Accuses Government Of ‘Unprecedented Intrusion Into Newsgathering’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Govt obtains wide AP phone records in probe (news.yahoo.com)
- U.S. government seizes AP phone records in what the news organization calls an ‘unprecedented intrusion’ (news.nationalpost.com)
- AP News Agency Says US Seized Phone Records (voanews.com)
- BREAKING NEWS: Justice Dept. Secretly Obtained AP Phone Record (foxnews.com)
- Nixonian: Obama Regime Seizes AP Reporters’ Phone Records For Over 20 Separate Lines, More Than 100 Journalists Affected… (redflagnews.com)