What if it was Bush? How would I feel?

ccccccccccccccccccThe 2014 World Press Freedom Index is out. Nasty news – again – for the old U-S-of-A where we’ve been sliding into the badlands ever since 9/11. And where my President and his Attorney General have some ‘splainin’ to do. Which will not happen with this President or any future President unless we get really really lucky.

Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example . . . Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices.

This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest.

US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a “shield law” to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government.

The United Kingdom (33rd, -3) distinguished itself in the war on terror by the disgraceful pressure it put on The Guardian newspaper and by its detention of David Miranda, journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner and assistant, for nine hours. Both the US and UK authorities seem obsessed with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy, a democratic value cherished in both countries.

At least the UK was spared the shame of our double-digit decline in press freedom. USA!

6 responses to “What if it was Bush? How would I feel?

  1. Another example of “American Exceptionalism.” If it was Bush, I’m sure many of us would feel even angrier and more fearful — but less conflicted.

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  2. Let me preface this with the statement that I’m, by and large, against shield laws et al and view them as a detriment to the rule of law and an unwarranted privilege that the US media has abused time and time again.

    Overall, I’m proud of America’s standing in this report by Reporters Without Borders. To a point the further the US drops in their opinion the better off we’ll be since they’re nothing but self-serving vultures who want to above the laws that apply to “normal people.”

    And look at what they’re specifically complaining about: Manning and Snowden, neither of whom are reporters and neither of whom were found out due to pressure being placed upon the press yet both of which, without any doubt, broke a series of laws to leak sensitive and dangerous information about the country that they lived in.

    So, to me, the only difference between how I feel about it and how I would feel about it if it was President Bush is that I’m less conflicted.

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    • “they’re nothing but self-serving vultures who want to above the laws that apply to “normal people.” Wow.

      The practice of good reporting and investigative journalism is hardly self serving. The role of a free press is to speak truth to power. In so doing, they protect a nation’s freedom. Those are the people the Obama administration is coming down on.

      Snowden, Manning and Asange have all no doubt broken laws. Manning is something of a puzzle, Asange is a supreme egoist and maybe Snowden is something we don’t like. I don’t have a good read on him. But they’re all also heroes in my book. They’re not a threat to our freedom; that would be the role of our corporate national security state.

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  3. The practice of good reporting and investigative journalism is quite self serving and also almost unheard of in the modern media. They spoke “truth to power” for the sake of their own fame and wealth, nothing else and, now, they don’t even speak truth very often.

    But, as for Snowden, Manning and Assange, only Assange was anything close to being a member of the press. Hence, RWB is just whining because it’s harder for them to get a juicy story in or about America.

    And heroes? People who give sensitive data to our enemies are your heroes? That says a lot since only Snowden leaked data to the US press about domestic issues that might be perceived as problematical by some hysterical types…as well as releasing data to foreign, sometimes unfriendly, governments.

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  4. BTW – as to the “corporate national security state,” two FBI agents showed up at my door today to talk to me about the content of one of my tweets. Nope! None of you Liberals should get your hopes up. They just wanted the provenance of an image of a severed Black child’s head that I used in it to make sure they didn’t have some crime to investigate. As it was from South Africa, I gave them the links to the sources with caveats about their lack of authority on the image.

    In actuality, the painful part of the whole process was how diligent they were about REPEATEDLY informing me that I was well within my rights to publish everything that I’ve published. Frankly, by the end of the interview, I almost felt bad for them.

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