"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson, 1786
Liberty, if Jefferson is to be believed, is nearly lost around the world.
In Morocco, for example, journalist Ali Anouzla was arrested because a story he wrote linked to a story in Spain’s El Pais newspaper that, in turn, contained a link to a video allegedly uploaded by someone supposedly associated with the al-Qaeda branch known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Anouzla’s connection to terror is tenuous at best. It is the prosecutorial equivalent of a signature strike: A missile is fired at a target not for what the target did, but because they are near a place where people have associated with people who have demonstrated questionable behavior at some point in the past — allegedly.
Anouzla’s case is not unique, unfortunately. And more distressing is the irrefutable fact that the U.S. government under the control of President Barack Obama has set the international standard for the persecution of the press.
Consider, for example, the recent attempts by the U.S. Congress to officially decide who qualifies as a journalist.
In September, during committee hearings on a bill aimed at protecting journalists from having to reveal their sources, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered an amendment that would have limited the protection to those reporters who conformed to her own narrow definition of a journalist.
Feinstein's contribution set out the definition of a "covered journalist,” a term that would have included someone who collects and/or reports news on behalf of "an entity or service that disseminates news and information," so long as they were carrying out "legitimate news-gathering activities.”
This provision amounted to nothing more or less than an attempt by Senator Feinstein to set up the Senate as the federal journalist licensing bureau.
Any such infringement on the freedom of the press is a hostile and open attack on the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing any law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
Next, there is the case of Fox News reporter James Rosen. The Obama administration targeted Rosen, branding him a “conspirator” for having reported a story given him by a State Department employee. By being tagged with that title, Rosen could be prosecuted under anti-espionage acts.
In May, the story broke of Attorney General Eric Holder’s seizure of records of calls made to and from reporters for the Associated Press (AP).
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