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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.

NSA Spying Poses “Direct Threat to Journalism,” Watchdog Group Warns | Global Research

NSA Spying Poses “Direct Threat to Journalism,” Watchdog Group Warns | Global Research.

Global Research, February 14, 2014
Spying on Americans:  A Multibillion Bonanza for the Telecoms

Massive spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) poses a “direct threat to journalism,” according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released Wednesday. The CPJ is warning, in particular, that the agency’s dragnet of communications data threatens to make it “next to impossible for journalists to keep sources confidential.”

New York-based CPJ devotes the first two chapters of its annual report, entitled “Attacks on the Press,” to an assessment of the impact of the NSA’s vast data sweep, which has been exposed by Edward Snowden and reported by numerous media outlets. The report notes that by storing massive amounts of data for long periods, the spy agency could develop the capability to recreate a reporter’s research and retrace a source’s movements by listening in on past communications.

The report points to the threat to press freedom in the context of the revelations of illegal government spying and the Obama administration’s unprecedented campaign against whistle-blowers. It quotes William Binney, who resigned from the NSA in 2001 in protest over privacy violations the agency committed post-9/11. Binney believes that the government keeps tabs on all journalists and notes that they are “a much easier, smaller target set” to spy on than the general population.

Alex Abdo, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, one of a team of lawyers who have litigated against the NSA for violating constitutional protections, told the CPJ that “all reporters should be worried” about the NSA’s vast collection and storage of data. “Reporters who work for the largest media organizations should be worried probably primarily because their sources will dry up as those sources recognize that there is not a way to cover their trail,” he said. He added that independent journalists should be concerned that “they themselves will be swept up in the course of their reporting.”

The watchdog group chillingly notes that the NSA’s storage of metadata creates a “deep breeding ground for artificial intelligence systems, which may in the future lead to more efficient, even predictive, spying machines.” As capabilities evolve, CPJ warns, such systems could be utilized to identify patterns of journalistic activity, targeting reporters for surveillance, intimidation and potential prosecution long before they actually engage in any suspect reporting.

President Barack Obama has absurdly asserted that despite the exposure of programs to collect data on millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails and Internet activity, there is no evidence that the US intelligence complex “has sought to violate the law.”

Meanwhile, top NSA officials have indicated that the token reforms announced by the president last month will do little to curb the agency’s spying activities. “They’re not putting us out business,” commented NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett on the measures in a recent interview with the Washington Post. He added, “They’re not putting an unbearable burden on us.”

Obama has tasked Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper to develop options by March 28 for ending the NSA’s storage of data on Americans’ phone calls. So far, no such plan has been drawn up, and Congress must approve any changes to the agency’s operations.

The president’s measures also include a requirement that the NSA obtain pro forma court approval before it can run a suspect’s phone number against the agency’s database. However, even this largely cosmetic restriction is vitiated by a provision allowing the NSA to query the data without prior court approval by invoking an “emergency” exception.

In the wake of the Snowden revelations, the government is implementing measures to prevent similar exposures in the future. Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, DNI Director Clapper said Snowden had taken advantage of a “perfect storm” of security lapses to sweep up a trove of government documents with the use of a web crawler, a readily available piece of software.

Clapper said the government’s 16 intelligence agencies have in place a long-term plan to tag every piece of information in their databases and then tag the individual who accesses each one. The NSA is also implementing a “two-man rule,” based on the model of nuclear weapons handling, which requires two systems administrators to work simultaneously when accessing highly classified material.

In earlier testimony before Congress, the DNI director claimed that Snowden’s revelations had resulted in “profound damage” and were “putting the lives of members, or assets of, the intelligence community at risk.” Clapper demanded that “Snowden and his accomplices” return any documents they had taken to the NSA. In the view of the intelligence community, these “accomplices” include journalists who have gone public with these documents in press reports.

The Obama administration has filed charges against Snowden under the Espionage Act of 1917. It has prosecuted more cases under this act that all of its predecessors combined, criminalizing whistle-blowers as well as journalists who reveal state secrets.

Bradley Manning, the young Army private, is now serving 35 years for revealing US military war crimes. The US is seeking the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face charges over the release of diplomatic cables exposing the US government’s intrigues. Snowden was forced to obtain asylum in Russia and faces death threats from current and former US intelligence personnel.

Last May, the Justice Department admitted to spying on at least 20 telephone lines used by the Associated Press to communicate with sources, in violation of First Amendment protections of freedom of the press.

The same month, it was revealed that the Justice Department had subpoenaed personal telephone and email records of Fox News Washington Bureau Chief James Rosen in connection with an investigation into the leaking of information about North Korea. The subpoenaed records included phone numbers registered to Rosen’s coworkers and parents, and even the White House’s own switchboard number.

The affidavit supporting the subpoena request for Rosen’s email and phone records specifically alleged that “there is probable cause to believe that the reporter has committed or is committing a violation [of the law] at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”

There is no section of the political establishment that seriously challenges the supposed “right” of the government to prosecute whistle-blowers and collect data from the phones and computers of virtually every American. The prosecution of individuals such as Manning, Assange and Snowden is justified by politicians of both big business parties in the name of combating terrorism and maintaining “national security”—a blanket pretext for destroying democratic rights and establishing dictatorial rule.

Senator Rand Paul (Republican of Kentucky) announced Wednesday that he is filing a class-action lawsuit against the NSA’s phone surveillance operations, saying he hoped to “protect the Fourth Amendment,” which bars unreasonable searches and seizures. Announcing the suit, however, the right-wing Republican made clear that he is not opposed to government spying.

He told a press conference, “I’m not against the NSA. I’m not against spying. I’m not against looking at phone records.” Shortly after his announcement of the lawsuit, Paul had a private lunch with Attorney General Holder at the Justice Department.

Toronto Star reporter arrested, ticketed after taking photos of injured GO transit officer | Toronto Star

Toronto Star reporter arrested, ticketed after taking photos of injured GO transit officer | Toronto Star.

 

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