Tags: bradley manning, cia, first amendment, freedom of the press, james risen, jeffrey sterling, journalists, judy miller, Media, national security, new york times, niemoller, orory o'commor, press freedom, roger hollander, thomas drake, whistle-blowing
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By Rory O’Connor
the sleazy, Bush-like tactics of the Obamacrats and the burgeoning national
staunch anti-Communist who supported Hitler’s rise to power — at first. He
later became disillusioned, however, and led a group of German clergymen opposed
to Hitler. In 1937 Niemoller was arrested for the crime of “not being
enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement” and later was sent to concentration
camps. Rescued in 1945 by the Allies, he became a leading post-war voice of
reconciliation for the German people.
Niemoller is most famous for his well-known
and frequently quoted statement detailing the dangers of political apathy in the
face of repression. Although it described the inactivity of Germans following
the Hitler’s rise to power and his violent purging of group after group of
German citizens, his statement lives on as a universal description of the
dangers of not standing up against tyranny.
The text of the Niemoller’s statement is
usually presented as follows:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for
I was reminded of Niemoller recently when
federal prosecutors issued a subpoena intended to force New York Times
reporter James Risen, the author of a book on the Central Intelligence Agency,
to testify at the criminal trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former C.I.A. officer.
Sterling was charged as part of a wide-ranging Obama administration crackdown on
officials accused of disclosing restricted information to journalists.
Now the Obama Justice Department is
threatening to jail a journalist as well — unless Risen tells them if Sterling
or someone else leaked information about the CIA’s efforts to sabotage the
Iranian nuclear program.
The subpoena, as Charlie Savage reported recently in the Times, “tells Mr. Risen
that ‘you are commanded’ to appear at federal district court in Alexandria, Va.,
on Sept. 12 to testify in the case. A federal district judge, Leonie M.
Brinkema, quashed a similar subpoena to Mr. Risen last year, when prosecutors
were trying to persuade a grand jury to indict Mr. Sterling.”
Risen rightly says he will ask the judge to
quash the new subpoena as well, stating forthrightly, “I will always protect my
sources,” and rightly that, “this is a fight about the First Amendment and the
freedom of the press.”
It’s bad enough that ever since President
Obama took office, he has repeatedly gone after whistleblowers like Sterling
with a cold vengeance, charging more people in cases involving leaking
information than “all previous presidents combined,” as Savage noted.
But Obama administration officials are no
longer content just with targeting whistleblowers like Sterling, former National
Security Agency official Thomas Drake, (who goes on trial soon on charges of
providing classified information to The Baltimore Sun) and of course
Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused – and already pronounced
guilty by the president — of passing classified documents to Wikileaks.org. Now
they are coming for the journalists as well – just as Bush Administration
officials did before them. And if Risen’s subpoena is not quashed and he still
refuses to testify, he risks being held in contempt and imprisoned, just as
Times reporter Judy Miller was for 85 days for her refusal to testify
in connection with the Valerie Plame Wilson leak in 2005.
Obama’s prosecutors argue that the First
Amendment doesn’t give Risen any right to avoid testifying about his
confidential sources in a criminal proceeding, and that the Pulitzer Prize
winner should be compelled to provide information to a jury “like any other
Citizens as well as journalists need to stand up for Risen and against the
sleazy, Bush-like tactics of the Obamacrats and the burgeoning national security
state. Otherwise, if you don’t speak out when they come, first for the
whistleblowers, and then for the journalists, when they come for you, there will
be no one left to speak out…
No Press Freedom in Post-Coup Honduras July 4, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Honduras, Latin America, Media.
Tags: freedom of the press, Honduras, honduras cnn, honduras coup, honduras media, honduras military, honduras news, honduras radio, honduras repression, honduras television, honduras tv, media benjamin, roger hollander, zelaya
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When José David Ellner Romero heard the soldiers breaking down the door of the Globo radio station on the evening of the June 28 coup, he had a flashback. His mind conjured up the terrible images from the 1980s, when he was arrested by the military, thrown into an underground prison and tortured. “I couldn’t stand the thought of going through that hell again, so I got out on the ledge of the windowsill and jumped,” Elner told our delegation. His fractured shoulder, ribs and bruises were minor given that he jumped from the third floor.
The owner of the station, Alejandro Villatoro, was thrown to the ground by soldiers who put their guns to his head and demanded to know where the transmitter was. Villatoro also happens to be a deputy in the National Assembly from the governing Liberal Party, but that didn’t afford him special treatment. While Villatoro was not a fan of deposed President Mel Zelaya, he believes in free speech and always guaranteed his employees that freedom. After the military invaded and censored his station, he now supports Zelaya’s return. “If this new government says it’s for democracy, then why is it censoring the press? This is the 21st century,” he told us. “We shouldn’t have coups and censorship and thugs running the country.”
Radio Globo is now back on the air, but one of its most critical programs, Hable como habla, is still banned and the host of the show, Eduardo Maldonado, is in hiding. And every now and then, like when they broadcast an interview with the deposed president, their signal is suddenly blocked.
Reporter Luis Galdamez, who hosts a show on Radio Globo, is back on the air but the military told him not to criticize the new government. He refuses to buckle, but he’s scared. “I get death threats every day. I don’t even read my text messages anymore, they’re so grotesque” he said. On our insistence, he pulled out his iphone and randomly picked from the 64 new messages he had. “We’re watching you,” the message read. “We know where you live and how many children you have. If you keep talking shit, we’re going to hang you and cut out your tongue for talking shit. Remember what happened in the 80s.”
Galdamez, a single father, is under tremendous pressure. At night, he sees cars without license plates outside his house, rifles pointing out the window. He wants to leave the country, but doesn’t know where he and his children could go.
Another radio station under attack is Radio Progreso in the city of Progreso. Four hours after the coup around 25 soldiers stormed into the studios of the community-based station and closed it down. Hundreds of local people quickly gathered to defend the station and demand that the military leave. Thanks to the tremendous outpouring of support, Radio Progreso opened the next day, Monday, but by Tuesday the soldiers were back again. The station is now transmitting clandestinely.
While the coup leaders say they are bringing back democracy by deposing an autocratic president, their first actions after kidnapping the president and flying him to Costa Rica was to keep the public in the dark. At the time of the coup on June 28, they cut the electricity and when it came back on four hours later, news programs had been replaced by music shows, soap operas, sports and cooking lessons.
By day two, most TV and radio stations were back on the air, but the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) notified cable TV operators of a ban on broadcasting certain international TV stations such as Telesur, Cubavisión Internacional and CNN Español. The pro-Zelaya Channels 36 and 50 were also banned, their studios surrounded by soldiers. Another TV station not allowed to broadcast was Canal 66 Maya TV. “They’ve taken off the air everyone who does not support the coup,” said Santos Gonzalez, a Channel 50 reporter.
The owner of Channel 36, Esdras Amado Lopez, received threats that he would be arrested and went into hiding. A week after the coup, the station was still shut and surrounded by soldiers. The government-operated Channel 8, located inside the heavily guarded presidential palace, was taken off the air but was back in business on Wednesday-transmitting the new government’s propaganda. All of the TV stations are now decidedly pro-coup, devoting significant coverage to demonstrations in favor of the new government while ignoring or minimizing mass rallies supporting Zelaya.
The only reason there is not more press censorship in Honduras today is because most of the media-TV, print and radio-is owned by businesspeople who support the coup. Edgardo Dumas, publisher of the large circulation daily La Tribuna and the country’s former Defense Minister, claims that rumors about censorship are “totally and absolutely false.” In a July 2 interview with W Radio in Bogotá, Colombia, Dumas claimed, “I don’t see any limit on freedom of the press. The four newspapers are putting out impartial and true news. No TV or radio station has been interfered with.” When asked why CNN was cut, he said it was “misinforming” the public and was “on the payroll of the dictator of Venezuela Hugo Chavez.”
The more educated Hondurans are now seeking information from the internet and text messages, but most Hondurans are getting a daily dose of pro-coup propaganda and journalists who oppose the government are doing so at great risk to themselves and their families.
The Honduran people should have the right to know what their new leaders, in the name of democracy, are doing to destroy the very basic foundations of a democratic system-a free press.
Pacifica Radio at 60: A Sanctuary of Dissent April 15, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Media.
Tags: alternative media, amy goodman, denis moynihan, fm radio, freedom of the press, james baldwin, KKK, klan, kpfa, kpfk, kpft, lew hill, listener supported, mainstream media, malcolm x, Media, nonprofit journalism, pacifica radio, paul robeson, radio journalism, roger hollander, wbai, wpfw
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Published on Wednesday, April 15, 2009 by TruthDig.com
The Pacifica network grew to five stations: KPFA in Berkeley, KPFK in Los Angeles, WBAI in New York, WPFW in Washington and KPFT in Houston.
In 1970, in its first months of operation, KPFT became the only radio station in the United States whose transmitter was blown up. The Ku Klux Klan did it. The KKK’s grand wizard described the bombing as his proudest act. I think it was because he understood how dangerous Pacifica was, as it allowed people to speak for themselves. When you hear someone speaking from his or her own experience-a Palestinian child, an Israeli mother, a grandfather from Afghanistan-it breaks down stereotypes that fuel the hate groups that divide society. The media can build bridges between communities, rather than advocating the bombing of bridges.
Pacifica is a sanctuary for dissent. In the 1950s, when the legendary singer and African-American leader Paul Robeson was “whitelisted” during Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts, banned from almost every public space in the United States but for a few black churches, he knew he could go to KPFA and be heard. The great writer James Baldwin, debating Malcolm X about the effectiveness of nonviolent sit-ins in the South, broadcast over the airwaves of WBAI. I got my start in broadcast journalism in the newsroom of WBAI. Today, the Pacifica tradition is needed more than ever.
In this high-tech digital age, with high-definition television and digital radio, all we get is more static: that veil of distortions, lies, misrepresentations and half-truths that obscures reality. What we need the media to give us is the dictionary definition of static: criticism, opposition, unwanted interference. We need a media that covers power, not covers for power. We need a media that is the fourth estate, not for the state. We need a media that covers the movements that create static and make history.
With more channels than ever, the lack of any diversity of opinion is breathtaking. Freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution, yet our media largely act as a megaphone for those in power. As we confront unprecedented crises-from global warming to global warring to a global economic meltdown-there is also an unprecedented opportunity for change.
Where will innovative thinkers, grass-roots activists, human-rights leaders and ordinary citizens come together to hash out solutions to today’s most pressing problems?
For example, while there are many people in this country-in the peace movement as well as in the military-who oppose the “surge” in Afghanistan, as they did in Iraq, we see and hear virtually none of these dissenting voices in the U.S. media. While some polls indicate that a majority of Americans support single-payer health care, these voices are essentially ignored or disparaged in the newspapers and network-news programs.
While traveling the country, I was asked the other day what I thought about the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea. On this 60th anniversary of the Pacifica Radio Network, we should celebrate the tradition of dissent and the power of diverse voices to resolve conflict peacefully.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Resembling I.F. Stone April 2, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Media.
Tags: amy goodman, freedom of the press, glenn greenwald, i.f. stone, independent journalism, independent media, izzy awards, jeremy stone, journalism, journalistic independence, McCarthyism, Media, national press club, Palestinians, roger hollander
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Published on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
I.F. Stone’s Son on the Izzy Awards, Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald
This is adapted from comments made at Tuesday’s inaugural ceremony of the Izzy Awards for independent media – named after legendary journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone. Blogger Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! shared the award presented by Ithaca College’s Park Center for Independent Media.
When I first heard about an award for people who most “resembled” Izzy, I had high hopes that I might finally win a prize. Unfortunately, the selection committee appears to have been concerned with behavior.
Resembling Izzy in behavioral terms does not lead to an easy life. His capacity for thinking independently, and acting on principle, isolated him from just about everyone.
In the McCarthy era, because he spoke in defense of Jeffersonian principles, people were afraid to be seen with him. When he supported the rights of Palestinians, Jewish institutions would not invite him to speak. And when the National Press Club refused to serve his black guest lunch, he quit the club, isolating himself from his colleagues.
He said he was so happy in his work that he should be “arrested.” But the consequence, for him, of speaking truth to power was loneliness.
Inevitably, the reward of such a man comes late. I.F. Stone knew this. He said: “I began as a pariah and then was treated as a gadfly. If I live long enough, I will become an institution.” And indeed in his lifetime, he moved on to become an icon.
Last year, Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism began awarding an annual I.F Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence with a follow-on panel on strengthening this independence. So two decades after his death, he became a fulcrum for journalistic independence.
Now, following the I.F. Stone Medal of 2008, comes the Izzy Award of 2009 with different criteria but a common goal. Rest assured that I.F. Stone is rotating in his grave with pleasure over these annual awards.
Today’s Izzy Award winners do have points of resemblance to I.F. Stone. Glenn Greenwald is a close reader of official documents and a principled critic of the tendency of the Executive Branch to exceed its rightful powers. He has been a fearless critic of government officials and complacent reporters. He has shown a willingness to challenge conventional pieties, including unthinking support for Israeli hardliners.
Amy Goodman career also has similarities. She speaks up for the disenfranchised and gives her audience facts they don’t hear from the traditional media. She is an investigative journalist and writes often about human rights. Like I. F. Stone and his weekly, she founded a vehicle, “Democracy Now!”, that takes no advertising or money from corporations or government. She confronts authority no matter how high. And she has repeatedly shown physical courage, something that I.F. Stone showed in accompanying Jewish refugees of World War II in their illegal and dangerous travel from Europe to Palestine.
I.F. Stone once said: “If the Government makes a mistake, the newspapers will find out and the problem may then be fixed. But if freedom of the press were lost, the country would soon go to pieces.”
What will this crucial freedom of the press amount to in coming years in the face of so much technological change? And how to protect it? The Park Center for Independent Media’s answer is to indentify role models by giving them Izzy Awards. It has made a good beginning.
In conclusion, I.F. Stone once said that he resembled nothing more than a “great Jewish bullfrog.” With this in mind, I congratulate the awardees on two grounds: their prize-winning resemblance to I.F. Stone in behavioral terms and their abysmal failure to resemble him in person.