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Thursday, July 07, 2005

This is going to seem callous, but the jailing of Judith Miller for not revealing her sources made me angrier than the London bombings.

The bombings left me angry, but cold. I hate those guys. They hate us. We're in a war with them. They murdered at least 37 people today. I'm not sure modern society will ever be free of lunatics who mistake Islam/Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism/Buddhism for an excuse to murder people. There are just too many people, and modern explosives are so devastating.

But Judith Miller... when a reporter from the Times is jailed, that strikes at the heart of a free society in a way that angry Islamists could never do. Jefferson once wrote that he'd rather have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers. He was exaggerating to make his point, but a society in which everyone's scared to blow the whistle when their bosses commit crimes -- and the Republicans who outed Valerie Plame were committing treason -- is a scary society on its way towards despotism. Without Deep Throat, Nixon would never have paid the price for the Watergate break-ins. Would Mark Felt have gone to the Washington Post if Woodward and Bernstein could have been compelled by a court to reveal his identity?

Meanwhile, our leaders raise the terror level, and put cops on the platforms, as if that's going to protect anyone. The next attack will not come by plane. It won't come necessarily by train. The likely target everyone's been talking about is cargo containers. But our fearless leaders have done almost nothing to stop terrorists from packing a standard shipping container with something horrible and shipping it into New York harbor.

I can think of some much more effective ways to terrorize North America, but I'm not going to blog them. They're just too damn easy, and terrifying.

I'm not scared of the terrorists. The IRA killed lots of people but never fundamentally changed British society, or even got the Brits out of Northern Ireland. But I am really scared about the political climate in the US. We are losing our freedoms, and slightly more than half the country thinks it's part of the war on terror.

When our leaders use the terrorists as an excuse to grab more power, terrorism wins.


For the first time in my life, I'm actually scared of my government. I don't want to turn into one of those people who see black helicopters everywhere, but I've never seen a power grap so obvious and yet so un-commented upon by the press at large.

By Blogger Unknown, at 4:15 PM  

I too am afraid of my American Government and will spend much time throughout my life keeping it where it should be.

Great post. This is how I feel as well.

Especially when the British press and citizenry are not making such a big deal out off it all. They have commented that they have dealt with terrrorism from the like of the IRA and other groups for many many years.

Yet, American press is using this as yet another scare tactic to induce our government into the dictatorship it is destined to become.

By Blogger AAP, at 5:58 PM  

I cannot emphasize how scary the country I am living in feels.

How come noone is fighting back?!

Tell me where the rally is to support Judith Miller, I will be there.

By Blogger AAP, at 6:01 PM  

Sorry but I have strong feelings about this:

I will be more pissed off at my own country for fighting terrorism. And for inducing terrorists to fight back. If My country isn't even fighting for the beliefs that make my country great in the first place.

And YES! My own country is doing more harm to itslef than any terrorists has ever or will ever do.

Who wants to go colonize the moon with me?

By Blogger AAP, at 6:06 PM  

I am actually just tired at this point. The extremists just make me sad. They have gone so far into the dark and away from real people that they are just cartoons. It is the politicians who make me angry. They fought hard for the jobs that they grandstand with and yet they do not seem to understand. Yet we are just as bad- when our legislatures do the slow and boring work of real legislation with thought and care and a chance of meeting the standards of our constitutions then we vote them out of office. We need the free press to be less afraid of their marketing departments and get back to the work of telling us what is really going on and when they do, we must support them for doing it.

By Blogger Hawise, at 7:25 PM  

Whoa, whoa, whoa!!

First, please do me a favor Alex and back up your outrageous claim of murder in the name of Buddhism or Hinduism.

Second, please explain how you'd seek a prosecution of somebody on the grounds of treason with no evidence because those that could provide it won't speak.

I know people have grown accustomed to the idea of "the press doesn't have to reveal sources" but that's a recent luxury they've had. It wasn't until the 70's that the press interpreted a ruling to say they didn't have to reveal sources under any circumstance.

The press doesn't have the right to protect criminals in the exact same way that individuals don't unless it's yourself. The press has the right to operate and say whatever they want so long as it's truthful to the best of their knowledge. They never had the right to keep sources anonymous so the court isn't taking anything away.

If you want to get pissed about an actual loss of rights, get pissed about the imminent domain ruling. Now that one is a crock.

By Blogger Bryan N., at 7:31 PM  

Just google "Buddhist riots" or "Hindu riots," Bryan. There was violent anti-Muslim rioting during the Partition of India. The Buddhists riot in Burma, among other things. Why should they be exempt? Just because their religion is peace-loving? So is Christianity.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 7:53 PM  

Why don't we simply throw Robert Novak in jail to find out who HIS "anonymous goverment source" was? After all, if we can do this to Judith Miller, why not Novak? Oh, that's right, he amd Karl Rove are good buddies. After all, Rove got FIRED from Bush Sr's campaign in 1992 for "allegedly" leaking info to Novak.

By Blogger writergurl, at 7:57 PM  

That's a brilliant argument:

"know people have grown accustomed to the idea of "the press doesn't have to reveal sources" but that's a recent luxury they've had."

Luxury? Great idea, let's move backwards because it wasn't always there to begin with.

Hey I know, We should allow slavery since it hasn't been so long that that was outlawed too.

I know it isn't a right we have, to have full protection from the law as a journalist, but smartly, the law hasn't tested that for 25 years. And ya know what, it should be a law.

By Blogger AAP, at 8:53 PM  

I almost want all these people who claim that "Oh, America isn't taking away their rights", to get what they want.

Take America, turn it into something that resembles nothing of the forward thinking grand experiment it was supposed to be.

I certainly won't be there when it happens, so what do I care. You'll all love it, I'm sure. No press, No Speech, No religious Freedom, No Privacy.


By Blogger AAP, at 9:29 PM  

BTW, according to the Times editorial, there are state laws protecting journalists' rights in 49 states. There is just no federal law protecting them.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:00 PM  

Aap... if you want a brilliant argument look at the one you just put forth comparing protection of press source anonymity that isn't protected anywhere within the Constitution to human enslavement that is explicitly forbidden. That's like me trying to compare the holocaust with property rights encroachment with the of the imminent domain decision; a gross comparison.

Alex... your accusation was committing murder in the name of religion, not rioting. The situation in Burma and other recent places is more one of government rabble rousing rather than wholesale sanctioning of murder.

If you have to reach back to riots in India in 1915 for an example you're stretching.

I would have said to remove Christianity as well if it weren't for recent events in Africa. It's not like the pope told catholics to go out and kill but the actors are doing it under the guise of Christianity vs. Islam.

You guys are going overboard with this argument. It isn't like Betty Sue of the local paper is going to be forced to give up her inside source for info from the mayor's office. We're talking about the compromising of national security interests that could have resulted in the loss of life and important resources.

I agree that the press should be afforded protection of their sources except in cases of national security or the perpetration of a felony. That doesn't change the fact that is not a protection offered by current federal law nor the Constitution. Treason is a federal crime defined with punishments directly in the Constitution.

Under the rights you'd like to afford the press, a reporter could interview a child molester and never have to divulge who the individual is.

And for all the Bush-haters out there, consider the two recent cases of the administration practicing propaganda, one case being a reporter being paid to trump up the benefits of No Child Left Behind. Federal law prohibits the act of propaganda but if anonymity of sources for the press is protected by the Constitution then the law is invalid. If you wanted to find out if that reporter was actually a paid mouthpiece for the government, you wouldn't be able to.

It's a two way street.

To quote Aap:

"Yet, American press is using this as yet another scare tactic to induce our government into the dictatorship it is destined to become."

This is confusing. On one hand you say "Great post" and agree that the press should have unlimited power. Then you say that you're afraid of the press because they're too powerful. Which is it?

Somebody committed a crime here folks. It's the most serious crime there is. It's so serious that it's the only crime the forefathers wrote right into the Constitution.

If you're worried about the erosion of freedoms please do everyone a favor and go out and talk to our children. It's frightening what they're being taught.


By Blogger Bryan N., at 12:27 AM  


The key sentence: "Hindu activists blamed Pakistani-supported Islamic militants for Tuesday's attack on the temple where Hindus in 1992 tore down the Babri mosque, which sparked Hindu-Muslim riots that killed 2,000."

Not 1915. 1992. (Partition was 1947.)

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 12:38 AM  

You equate what happens in a riot to the sanctioning, training and support of outright religious warfare? If yes, then I understand your argument. I see a difference between teaching children from the time they're born to kill in the name of religion and what happens during the group dynamics of a riot.

I have yet to hear of a Buddhist monk telling his community to go out and kill people in the name of Buddha.

By Blogger Bryan N., at 12:59 AM  

I'm tired, and its late, so I'll talk about what I meant in my posts tomorrow bryan.

But one of the most important issues at hand is, Who gets to say what is national security and what isn't?

That's where is gets sticky. Sure a government might say its a matter of national security, or it might just be a matter of saving his ass. Sure a judge might say its national security or it might just be an issue he strongly believes in.

Who defines it?


By Blogger AAP, at 1:58 AM  

Fine, one more thing before bed.

In regards to my saying that I agree that it is important for the press to not have to divulge their sources. And yes I also agree that the press use their powers as propaganda, often.

That doesn't mean becuase they abuse their power I am willing to shut them down.

Anyways, In your extreme example of the child molester:

I would rather the truth be brought to light on child molestation. And the reporter not have to divulge the information if they so chose. And have the investigators go out and do some actual work based on the reporters statements. Than never having anything said on child molestation at all, and having it continue sight unseen, because the culprits were too frightened to come out and say anything to begin with.

By Blogger AAP, at 2:03 AM  


Wow regarding that USA Today article. That is so scary. Thanks for sharing.

By Blogger AAP, at 2:09 AM  

"...even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them."

This is something I just don't understand. What is the American citizenry becoming so afraid of? Why do we need a government to hold our hand?

We are supposed to be one of the furthest governments from that. Even the Republican party has turned its cheek in that direction. Rebuplicans are supposed to be for less government, but now more than ever it seems they are for more.

The less government thing was the best platform that party had.

By Blogger AAP, at 2:12 AM  

Oy, I need to get to bed.

Last thing I will say is how amazing it is that the people of America don't even understand the greatness off the country they live in.

"Although a large majority of students surveyed say musicians and others should be allowed to express "unpopular opinions," 74% say people shouldn't be able to burn or deface an American flag as a political statement; 75% mistakenly believe it is illegal."

I cannot stress how important it is for us to be able to burn our own flag. The most American act one can make is to burn an American flag. And for the youth, the parts of our citizenship that should be rebeling, and challenging ideas, to think differently. Blows My Mind.

The America I thought I was inheriting has turned into something very different. Sure the pedulum will swing back in my direction. But I'm not sure I have the patience.

By Blogger AAP, at 2:16 AM  

Also, I must stress, that the Most American Act one can make, is to Burn an American flag, with the knowledge that it is perfectly legal and acceptable to do so.

By that I mean, That I burn it because I can. And that is so powerful. I burn it because people have fought and died for the freedoms which allow me to express my discontent if I choose to. What an amazing place, one in which I can say I dislike things about it, and have them be changed!

By Blogger AAP, at 2:19 AM  

Ya know, despite the violence, poverty, corruption, race-based tension and so on and so on, living in South Africa is starting to look pretty damn good about now.

Maybe it's because we've just emerged from one of history's darkest periods, but it's ironic that our protection of an individual's rights is so far superior to that place once called the land of the free.

I don't think your average American knows (or really cares) how they're perceived by the rest of the world. I'm no Yank-basher, I'm probably more "middle-American" in outlook and lifestyle than most "middle-Americans". I love the idea of America and what it's always stood for...but folks, wake up and smell the coffee - it's going downhill. America has always stood proudly as a symbol of freedom, now you're looking more and more like our northerly neighbours. Sure, there's a huge difference between the US and Zimbabwe, but erosion of freedom and the rise of a dictatorial government starts with small steps, my friends.

And this has got nothing to do with Bush-bashing, this is a look at the folk who voted him in, a wide-eyed, head-shaking gape at the swell of religious conservatism that's got your country by the gonads and is squeezing, squeezing, squeezing...while all that echoes from a citizenship traditionally associated with outspoken opinion, is a loud, leaden silence. To me, it's sad. Sigh. 'nuff said.

By Blogger Dennis V, at 2:29 AM  

"That's where is gets sticky. Sure a government might say its a matter of national security, or it might just be a matter of saving his ass. Sure a judge might say its national security or it might just be an issue he strongly believes in.

Who defines it?"

If you want to know the details visit this guide from Georgetown Law: http://www.ll.georgetown.edu/guides/national_security.cfm

To boil it down:

1. Each agency has the right to deem what is classified and declassified under the scope of national security within their own agencies which is granted by Executive Order.

2. Appeals of this classification can be made to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel granted by Executive Order.

3. "Non-military justice cases relating to national security issues (such as treaty interpretation, constitutional law, federal criminal law, and civil liberties) are heard by the general federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and U.S. District Courts."

So to answer your question, a lot of people can decide and there is a lengthy appeals course one may take.

And to be fair I have to retract the accusation of treason in the leaking of such information because it seems a bit extreme. It could be argued that it is an act of treason but that depends entirely upon the results of such a disclosure, which at this time seem extremely negligible.

By Blogger Bryan N., at 3:13 AM  

Thanks for the link.

By Blogger AAP, at 11:45 AM  

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