Paternalistic And Totalitarian

16 May

Listen to Little DaddyIn the wake of revelations that it spied on Associated Press reporters, the Obama administration is attempting to misdirect opposition by proposing a media shield law.

Under the proposed agreement, a so-called media shield law would allow federal judges to quash subpoenas against reporters if they determine that the public interest in the news outweighed the government’s need to uncover the leaker – including, in some circumstances, disclosures of classified national security information.

The proposal would also extend coverage to unpaid bloggers engaged in gathering and disseminating news information.


The shield law would also apply when the F.B.I. wants to subpoena third-party records, tracking phone calls and e-mail to find out who had been talking to a reporter.


In civil cases, the litigant seeking to subpoena a reporter would first have to exhaust all other means of obtaining the information. Even after that, the judge would still apply a balancing test, and the onus would be on the seeker of the information to prove why the need for testimony outweighed the public’s interest in news gathering.

The shield law would not have protected AP reporters.

Because, in the case of the AP seizure, the organization and its reporters were not warned in advance that subpoenas had been issued, it does not appear that this type of legislation would have protected their sources and information.

The administration’s conduct both in its monitoring and this obfuscatory tactic of a media shield is paternalistic, and, as Chris Hedges argues, totalitarian.

Well, it’s part of a pattern. That’s what’s so frightening. And it’s a pattern that we’ve seen, with the use of the Espionage Act, to essentially silence whistleblowers within the government—Kiriakou, Drake and others, although Kiriakou went to jail on—pled out on another charge—the FISA Amendment Act, which allows for warrantless wiretapping, the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the stripping of American citizens of due process and indefinite detention. And it is one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press. And I would also, of course, throw in the persecution of Julian Assange at WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as part of that process.


Well, I find, you know, all of these measures to essentially shut down the freedom of information, including the persecution of Assange and Manning, as symptomatic of a reconfiguration of our society into a totalitarian security and surveillance state, one where anyone who challenges the official narrative, who digs out cases of torture, war crimes—which is, of course, what Manning and Assange presented to the American public—is going to be ruthlessly silenced. And I find the passivity on the part of the mainstream press, publications like The New York Times, The Guardian, El País, Der Spiegel, all of which, of course, used this information, and turning their backs on Manning and Assange, to be very shortsighted for precisely this reason. If they think it’s just about Manning and Assange, then they have no conception of what it is that’s happening. And, you know, everyone knows, within the administration, within the National Security Council, the effects of climate change, the instability that that will cause, the economic deterioration, which is irreversible, and they want the mechanisms by which they can criminalize any form of dissent. And that’s finally what this is about.

Nick Gillespie provides the context of the leaks which so annoyed Big Daddy. Worse, the Attorney General, Eric Holder, is acting capriciously.

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One Response to “Paternalistic And Totalitarian”

  1. liberaleb 16 May 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Nick Gillespie is Libertarian Asshole, but he is right on this. Freedom of the Press is there for a reason.

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