The War on Journalism

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

“There is a War on Journalism”: Jeremy Scahill on NSA Leaks & New Investigative Reporting Venture



Full transcript can be read here

Six months ago today, Glenn Greenwald published his first article about Edward Snowden’s leaks from the National Security Agency in The Guardian newspaper. British police are now examining whether Guardian staff should be investigated for terrorism offenses over their handling of data leaked by Snowden. Jeremy Scahill talks about the “war on journalism” around the world and his work to launch a new media venture with Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras and eBay founder Pierre Omidy

The Guardian and the guardians

UK should be wary of prosecuting newspaper over leaks

For the past six months, western governments have been rocked by the revelations made by Edward Snowden. A former contractor to the US National Security Agency, Mr Snowden leaked vast quantities of secret data on US and British surveillance programmes to the media – in particular, The Guardian newspaper.

The Snowden disclosures have stirred impassioned debates about the nature of state snooping in the 21st century, and the adequacy of political oversight over the intelligence services. However, reactions have differed. While the US government has focused its energies on seeking to extradite Mr Snowden to face justice, in Britain there has been more enthusiasm for turning on the messenger.

This week Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian’s editor, was subjected to hostile questioning in parliament. More seriously, several MPs have been agitating for him to be prosecuted under Britain’s terror laws. The police have confirmed they are looking into the matter. Central to the case constructed by these MPs is the fact that The Guardian passed some of Mr Snowden’s documents to the New York Times to avoid being gagged by the UK courts. Sending secret information out of Britain could be an offence under the 2000 Terrorism Act.

Publication of much of the Snowden material in The Guardian has to date met the public interest test. For instance, news that the NSA has sought to crack the basic encryption used by people operating on the internet is disturbing.

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    • TMC on December 7, 2013 at 5:28 am
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  1. The War on Journalism is being fought on many fronts.

    From ‘The Global Post’ (The bold text is original author’s discretion, not mine) :

    Here are four disturbing ways the bill could be a democracy muzzler.



    It defines terrorism as imposing one’s opinions on others.

    On November 29, ruling party lawmaker Shigeru Ishiba lashed out at demonstrations near the Diet building in Tokyo, writing in his blog that protesting the bill is “seems not so different” from an act of terrorism.

    Ishiba quickly retracted his statement. But his vitriol outraged critics, who raised fears about the obfuscated and strangely targeted definition of “terrorism” in the bill. According to Article 12, terrorism is partially defined as an activity that forces “political and other principles or opinions on the state or other people.”

    In other words, throw up a rowdy anti-government protest, and the judiciary can find a reason to lock you away.



    It criminalizes investigative journalism

    Journalists can be prosecuted for “improperly accessing” classified documents or “conspiring” to leak them.

    Even asking an official to take a look at classified documents could constitute “conspiracy,” leading to up to five years in prison. “Instigating” the release of government secrets, meanwhile, carries up to 10 years in the dock.

    The government denies this, proclaiming that free speech will continue to be protected under the Constitution. It has also incorporated hazy safeguards, including a line in the bill that agencies must “take into consideration” human rights and freedom of the press.

    But what exactly does that mean? Protestors aren’t reassured.

    Basically, anything can be a secret

    The act gives heads of government agencies near-total power over classifying state secrets under four categories: diplomacy, defense, counterintelligence and counterterrorism.

    The problem is, administrators can make the opaque decisions to classify a document even if their work hardly relates to national security. That effectively allows them to hide any embarrassing piece of evidence, and then pursue the journalists and bloggers who make it public.

    The act may conflict with the freedom of information law.

    It’s unclear how the act will impact the 1999 freedom of information law, which grants citizens the right to request disclosures and lays out the government’s responsibilities in doing so.

    In all likelihood, officials will probably use the state secrets bill to refuse requests, acting in line with the freedom of information law’s broad exemptions for releases that could harm national security or public order, writes Joel Rheuben, a Japanese law specialist.

    Is democracy under threat in Japan? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has agreed to set up an agency that would monitor the information that’s made secret. But that’s only a promise, not a provision actually included in the bill – the sort of vagueness that critics are going after in the first place.

    Here’s the full story: http://www.globalpost.com/disp

  2. The War on Journalism is being fought on many fronts.

    From ‘The Global Post’ (The bold text is original author’s discretion, not mine) :

    Here are four disturbing ways the bill could be a democracy muzzler.



    It defines terrorism as imposing one’s opinions on others.

    On November 29, ruling party lawmaker Shigeru Ishiba lashed out at demonstrations near the Diet building in Tokyo, writing in his blog that protesting the bill is “seems not so different” from an act of terrorism.

    Ishiba quickly retracted his statement. But his vitriol outraged critics, who raised fears about the obfuscated and strangely targeted definition of “terrorism” in the bill. According to Article 12, terrorism is partially defined as an activity that forces “political and other principles or opinions on the state or other people.”

    In other words, throw up a rowdy anti-government protest, and the judiciary can find a reason to lock you away.



    It criminalizes investigative journalism

    Journalists can be prosecuted for “improperly accessing” classified documents or “conspiring” to leak them.

    Even asking an official to take a look at classified documents could constitute “conspiracy,” leading to up to five years in prison. “Instigating” the release of government secrets, meanwhile, carries up to 10 years in the dock.

    The government denies this, proclaiming that free speech will continue to be protected under the Constitution. It has also incorporated hazy safeguards, including a line in the bill that agencies must “take into consideration” human rights and freedom of the press.

    But what exactly does that mean? Protestors aren’t reassured.

    Basically, anything can be a secret

    The act gives heads of government agencies near-total power over classifying state secrets under four categories: diplomacy, defense, counterintelligence and counterterrorism.

    The problem is, administrators can make the opaque decisions to classify a document even if their work hardly relates to national security. That effectively allows them to hide any embarrassing piece of evidence, and then pursue the journalists and bloggers who make it public.

    The act may conflict with the freedom of information law.

    It’s unclear how the act will impact the 1999 freedom of information law, which grants citizens the right to request disclosures and lays out the government’s responsibilities in doing so.

    In all likelihood, officials will probably use the state secrets bill to refuse requests, acting in line with the freedom of information law’s broad exemptions for releases that could harm national security or public order, writes Joel Rheuben, a Japanese law specialist.

    Is democracy under threat in Japan? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has agreed to set up an agency that would monitor the information that’s made secret. But that’s only a promise, not a provision actually included in the bill – the sort of vagueness that critics are going after in the first place.

    Here’s the full story: http://www.globalpost.com/disp

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