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Gonzales Says Publishing Leaks Is A Crime 889

Posted by Hemos
from the battle-of-the-legal-wars dept.
loqi writes "The NY Times is reporting on a statement from US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declaring that journalists may be prosecuted by the federal government for publishing classified information. On the 1st amendment ramifications: "'But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity,' he said. 'And so those two principles have to be accommodated.'" So our 1st amendment rights don't trump the right of the federal government to violate them?"
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Gonzales Says Publishing Leaks Is A Crime

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  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:37AM (#15379354) Homepage

    Slimey bastards! I wonder what the fallen in the September 11th terrorist outrages would make of this. The US government has repeatedly used their memory to justify secrecy right across government. It is now trying to use their memory to to silence people who whistle-blow on their deepest darkest secrets. Well fuck them!

    Quite frankly, I couldn't give the faintest whiff of shit what the Attorney General has to say about the issue. The Constitution trumps everything, the Attorney General include, and it states in no uncertain terms which the rights of citizens of the United States retain for themselves:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    I don't see any exception for the state to keep secrets from the electorate. Bring the prosecutions and watch them fall one by one.

    Simon

    • by timeOday (582209) on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:52AM (#15379435)
      Besides, what about whistleblower laws? I think the unwarranted spying on Americans' phone calls should have to be ruled legal in a court of law before those who leaked it could possibly tried for a crime.

      Anyways, this creates a very unstable situation, since the Administration can leak [newsmax.com] (I mean, "selectively declassify") information any old time they feel like it in order to make political points.

      What's weird is that all the best information we have about what's being done in our name with our tax money is due to leaks. It doesn't feel like democracy to me.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Anyways, this creates a very unstable situation, since the Administration can leak (I mean, "selectively declassify") information any old time they feel like it in order to make political points.

        Actually, as the head of the Executive Branch, the President is allowed to declassify just about anything he wants at any given time. The key is that it's usually a bad idea a) if American lives are on the line, or b) the operation/investigation is ongoing.

        As someone who has had their life threatened by individuals
        • Actually, as the head of the Executive Branch, the President is allowed to declassify just about anything he wants at any given time.

          Bzzzt, thank you for playing.

          The president has the authority to start the process to declassify things wherever he wants, like, actually, anyone who has access to classified material. If you know it exists, you can ask the right people to review the classification. He does not, however, have the authority to just say things outloud and magically declassify them.

          Classificat

        • by TheLink (130905) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:27AM (#15380745) Journal
          "I don't think the Democrats have room to talk"

          Are the US people stupid or what? Always seeing things as if it's "Pro-Wrestling".

          Currently things are getting to be US Gov vs the US citizens. Forget the Republican vs Democrat crap.

          You guys are getting screwed by the theatre and you're complaining about the characters in the play.

          Doh.
    • The Constitution trumps everything, the Attorney General included

      Not the army. And at this point, we should be finding out exactly where they stand.
      • Amen,

        If you want to "hide" behind the First......be prepared to use the Second. That is why it was put there.

        Those who would hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those that did not.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        In fact it's right here in the "Oath of Enlistement"

        "I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replac

    • I'm really torn on this one. On the one hand, this would let them prosecute wistleblowers who publish information that should be known (i.e. CIA secret prison identities.) On the other hand, this would let them prosecute morons who publish information that should not be known (i.e. CIA secret agent identities.) I don't suppose there's a way to do this on a case-by-case basis, maybe needing a unanimous grand jury to decide that a case is not whistleblowing before going to full trial?
    • by gkhan1 (886823) <oskarsigvardsson@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 22, 2006 @09:57AM (#15379915)
      There is a Swedish law that I am very, very fond of. In sweden, if someone leaks information to the press about the government, the government is not only forbidden to prosecute, or even fire, the person who leaks, but it is infact illegal for the government to even investigate to try and find out who the leaker was (this obviously does not apply to cases where the leak is illegal, ie someone has leaked classified information. Though almost all leaks to the press, in terms of quantity, are not illegal, neither here nor in the US). Note also that this only applies to the government, not the private sector.

      I don't mean to brag about my country (although I enjoy it, it's such a rare occorance ;), but freedom is something we do really well. Infact of the four parts of the swedish constitution, the Freedom of the Press Act is the oldest one, dating back to 1766 (the three other parts are The Act of Succession, The Fundamental Law of Freedom of Expression and The Instrument of Government). That act also includes whats known as "Offentlighetsprincipen", roughly translated as "The Publicity Principle", stating that all government documents (with certain exceptions, such as documents that would endanger national security and documents relating to matters under investigation, although no document may be withheld more than X number of years (I believe X=70, but I'm not sure)) should be readily available to the entire public. Basically, it's the same as The Freedom of Information Act. But Offentlighetsprincipen was included into the constitution in 1766! 1766! The US got it's in 1966, 200 years later.

      I realise that I sound like a ridiculous patriot here, and I don't mean to offend anybody. It's just that while My Country might be lacking in many areas where other nations excel, there is one thing nobody can beat us in: Freedom, Civil Liberties, and a the most solid defence against a corrupt government in history.

      • by kin_korn_karn (466864) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:08AM (#15380526) Homepage
        So what are your immigration laws like? I'm dead serious.
        • by rossifer (581396) on Monday May 22, 2006 @01:23PM (#15381841) Journal
          If you are a software developer and you want to live in Sweden, you want to apply for a software developer job in Ireland, get a work visa, establish residency (3-5 years), then move to Sweden for a year under a simple EU visa. During that year in Sweden, learn the language (if you haven't already), get a job (do not expect to find lots of jobs for software developers), and then apply for permanent residency (2-4 more years).

          Ireland is currently the gateway into the EU for software developers as your job description results in an expedited work visa application, which is an effective pathway to EU residency. Once you have EU residency, you have a great deal of freedom to move around from there.

          Regards,
          Ross
    • Bring the prosecutions and watch them fall one by one.

      This reminds me of the following exchange of Sir Thomas More from "A Man For All Seasons" set in the time of King Henry VIII.

      Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

      More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

      Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

      More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This co

  • Chilling effects! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:37AM (#15379355) Homepage Journal
    Can't Gonzales think of the unintended consequences of legislation such as this? If leeks can no longer be published, what will happen to websites such as this one? [kitchengardenseeds.com] ;-)

    Now I've gotten my joke in, for those too lazy to install the firefox bugmenot extension [roachfiend.com] here's the article text:

    Gonzales Says Prosecutions of Journalists Are Possible

    The government has the legal authority to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales [nytimes.com] said yesterday.

    "There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Mr. Gonzales said on the ABC News program "This Week."

    "That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation," he continued. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."

    Asked whether he was open to the possibility that The New York Times should be prosecuted for its disclosures in December concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program, Mr. Gonzales said his department was trying to determine "the appropriate course of action in that particular case."

    "I'm not going to talk about it specifically," he said. "We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity."

    Though he did not name the statutes that might allow such prosecutions, Mr. Gonzales was apparently referring to espionage laws that in some circumstances forbid the possession and publication of information concerning the national defense, government codes and "communications intelligence activities."

    Those laws are the basis of a pending case against two lobbyists, but they have never been used to prosecute journalists.

    Some legal scholars say that even if the plain language of the laws could be read to reach journalists, the laws were never intended to apply to the press. In any event, these scholars say, prosecuting reporters under the laws might violate the First Amendment.

    Mr. Gonzales said that the administration promoted and respected the right of the press that is protected under the First Amendment.

    "But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," he said. "And so those two principles have to be accommodated."

    Mr. Gonzales sidestepped a question concerning whether the administration had been reviewing reporters' telephone records in an effort to identify their confidential sources.

    "To the extent that we engage in electronic surveillance or surveillance of content, as the president says, we don't engage in domestic-to-domestic surveillance without a court order," he said. "And obviously if, in fact, there is a basis under the Constitution to go to a federal judge and satisfy the constitutional standards of probable cause and we get a court order, that will be pursued."

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:47AM (#15379403)
      Those laws are the basis of a pending case against two lobbyists, but they have never been used to prosecute journalists.

      Some legal scholars say that even if the plain language of the laws could be read to reach journalists, the laws were never intended to apply to the press. In any event, these scholars say, prosecuting reporters under the laws might violate the First Amendment.


      Why is it not okay to prosecute Journalists but okay to prosecute lobbyists?

      No, I'm not for prosecuting journalists, but the 1st amendment gives us all freedom of speech and freedom of the press - narrowing down who gets freedom of the press - in this case journalists - only serves to defeat the amendment. I'm tired of seeing the press get a free ticket because they are "real professionals" and people like bloggers get written off, as if the founding fathers intended the right to apply to only those who attended journalism school.

      And what are lobbyists doing with state secrets anyhow? Shouldn't the people who gave them this info, who swore an oath to the government, and signed confidentiality agreements be the ones prosecuted?
      • by crawling_chaos (23007) on Monday May 22, 2006 @09:02AM (#15379507) Homepage
        Why is it not okay to prosecute Journalists but okay to prosecute lobbyists?

        Because the First Amendment guarantees rights to humans only?

      • Re:Chilling effects! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AhtirTano (638534)
        No, I'm not for prosecuting journalists, but the 1st amendment gives us all freedom of speech and freedom of the press - narrowing down who gets freedom of the press - in this case journalists - only serves to defeat the amendment. I'm tired of seeing the press get a free ticket because they are "real professionals" and people like bloggers get written off, as if the founding fathers intended the right to apply to only those who attended journalism school.

        I think this is a result of the language changing

  • by DougLorenz (964249) * on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:37AM (#15379356)
    Gonzo claims in the article that:

    "But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," he said. "And so those two principles have to be accommodated."

    So, according to the U.S. Attorney General, the first amendment is a great right, but it can't be allowed when it gets in the way of law enforcement. I wonder if he feels the same things about other Constitutional amendments which restrict law enforcement, like the fourth and fifth amendments. I'm sure that the people who wrote those Constitutional Amendments didn't really mean for them to limit the power of government (BTW, that's sarcasm...)

    Of course, we really have to consider that the federal government should only be going after criminal activity when such criminal activity is actually present. Something cannot be a crime when the law which makes it a crime is not constitutional.

    There is a reason why we have made freedom of the press a nearly absolute right. Throughout history we have seen that hiding the activities of government creates corruption, and even when the media is biased, we need them to be able to get the issues out to the public so that they can be discussed.

    It is also interesting to see the philosophy involved in Gonzo's "Pass the Buck" stragegy. He wants to claim that it isn't the Bush administration that is going after the reporters, it's actually Congress that passed the laws which REQUIRE the Bush administration to go after the press.

    "That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation," he continued. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."

    I guess that what really bothers me is that good Republicans who should really know better, individuals who have long complained about the growing powers of the federal government, should be more concerned about this. They need to come to their senses and realize that Bush is not helping the ideologies that make the Republican Party, and they need to abandon him.

    Nixon was run out of office not by Democrats, and not even by the Washington Post reporters. He was run out of office by fellow Republicans who came to him and told him that he had become an embarrassment, and it was time for him to resign. Modern day Republican leaders have to do the same thing and rid us of our modern day Nixon.

    • by WombatControl (74685) on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:48AM (#15379410)
      There is a reason why we have made freedom of the press a nearly absolute right. Throughout history we have seen that hiding the activities of government creates corruption, and even when the media is biased, we need them to be able to get the issues out to the public so that they can be discussed.
      Since when has "freedom of speech" been a "nearly absolute right"? We limit free speech all the time in this country. For instance, you can't:
      • Yell "fire" in a crowded theater.
      • Commit libel or slander
      • Say something that creates a "hostile work environment" for others
      • Criticize a political candidate on television 60 days before an elections. (Thanks to the new Alien and Sedition Acts - AKA McCain-Feingold)

      Those are just the ones I can think of before I've had my full cup of coffee.

      So, the idea that freedom of speech is some absolute right just isn't true, and has never really been. The question isn't "can the government restrict freedom of speech in certain cases?" but "is this one of those cases?"

      • Since when has "freedom of speech" been a "nearly absolute right"? We limit free speech all the time in this country. For instance, you can't:

        - Yell "fire" in a crowded theater.


        That is just stupid. If the only reason you don't yell fire in a crowded theater is because its illegal. Well, good luck in life. A better example of a lack of freedom of speech is that its illegal to talk about killing the President of the United States.

        - Commit libel or slander

        Libel and slander are subject to _civil_ law, not cr
        • A better example of a lack of freedom of speech is that its illegal to talk about killing the President of the United States.

          No it isn't. It's illegal [cornell.edu] to threaten to kill the President of the United States. That's very different. You can talk about Wile E Coyote dropping anvils on the guy, and how hilarious that would be, until you're blue in the face.

          I didn't know about this law [McCain-Feingold]. Sounds dumb if it really exists and is that specific. So, internet, radio, press, flyers, meetings are

      • Freedom of speech never ment freedom to say whatever the hell you want.

        Freedom of speech means you are free to believe in ideas and that those ideas can freely flow through society unimpeded by the government.

        It does NOT mean you can yell fire in a crowded room. IT DOES mean you can believe the government is a piece of shit and express that idea.
      • by lynx_user_abroad (323975) on Monday May 22, 2006 @09:27AM (#15379683) Homepage Journal
        These are rather jumbled. Let's sort them out:

        Yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

        Yup. Supreme Court is clear on this. Hopefully we all understand the reasons why.

        Commit libel or slander

        A Boils down to "you can't knowingly tell falsehoods for the purpouse of causing harm to others". Hopefully we all understand why here, too.

        Say something that creates a "hostile work environment" for others

        This it not entirely correct. You can say something that creates a "hostile work environment" for others, what you can't do is maintain a hostile work environment by allowing others (or, I suppose, doing so yourself) to say things which create a hostile work environment. It's not the speech itself which is prohibited, but rather the circumstances of the speech.

        Criticize a political candidate on television 60 days before an elections.

        You can, but:

        • Don't expect to get federal funding or tax breaks to do so.
        • Don't expect to utilize the grant of a public monopoly (broadcast airwaves or publically regulated cable monopoly) to do so.

        In short, you need to be civil when you do so.

        Not politically correct, just civil.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:39AM (#15379363) Journal
    So, the text of the first amendment reads:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    I know this and value it as one of my most important rights as an American. The piece we are dealing with here is "freedom of the press." It is my belief that this protection of our press from our government is what makes our system just and, when the justice system fails, provides a means of prosecution for law enforcement, companies and politicians.

    What I can't quote are "some statutes" that Mr. Gonzales is referring to. And, frankly, I don't give a damn what they say. There's nothing that could convince me to give up or sacrifice any part of the First Amendment.

    I believe my government has a duty to protect the information that is important or sensitive. If the government fails to do adequately protect this information then it should not be illegal for an instution of the press to point it out. If by doing so they print the classified information then so be it. The people have a right to know the shortcomings of their government whether they be scandal or lack of security.

    I fear that if they make this illegal, it will also be illegal to point out inadequacies of the government &, before we know it, the press will be unable to criticize the government. Releasing information of sensitivity is a form of criticism and should be treated as such.
  • Persecution (Score:4, Funny)

    by zoward (188110) * <email.me.at.zoward.at.gmail.com> on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:40AM (#15379364) Homepage
    Am I the only one who read that as:

    "...journalists may be persecuted by the federal government for publishing classified information".

  • Suspicious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by udoschuermann (158146) on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:40AM (#15379369) Homepage
    When the federal government invokes the "national security" card over and over again as it has in recent months and years, it is no longer national security that's at issue but abuse of power and the covering up of mistakes.
    • Re:Suspicious (Score:4, Insightful)

      by larkost (79011) on Monday May 22, 2006 @10:40AM (#15380244)
      Except it is not mistakes that they are clearing up. They feel that that have the "moral authority" to do these things, but think (probably rightly) that the general public would not understand why they have the right to do so despite those things going against the law. This "above the law" feeling is exactly why we have the ideal instilled into the Constitution that there should be a free press.

      I find this especially bad from an administration who first came to power talking about "bringing accountability back to the White House".
  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto.connexer@com> on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:44AM (#15379387) Homepage

    The problem is this: the government is obviously having trouble trusting its people. It's that simple. If information leaks, go after the leaker. Once the information is out, it's out. Going after journalists is not exactly going to engender good will from the media. This has always been one of my biggest criticisms of the Republican party, that they can't handle the media at all.

    This is not too different from how the Air Force and the Marine Corps handled the media in Iraq. The Air Force treated the media like a bunch of little kids and they they were not exactly portrayed in the best light. On the other hand, the Marines involved the media people reporting on them to the point of having them out in the field with real units. Result: the media with the Marines were much more open to the requests of the Marine leaders as to what could/could not be published and they painted the Marines in a much more positive light. Why? Becuase they felt like part of the team.

    What Gonzales is doing is basically alienating the channel by which many many Americans receives their "information" every day. This is not exactly intelligent. I don't mean to say that the Republicans should kowtow to the media and or the Democrats (otherwise we would go from a 1.5 party system to a 0 party system), just that they need to not be stupid.

  • by republican gourd (879711) on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:45AM (#15379388)
    Here is the link to the leaked AT&T Court documents that were released on Wired this morning:

    http://blog.wired.com/27BStroke6/att_klein_wired.p df [wired.com]
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:48AM (#15379409)

    The US federal government is becoming too powerful, and it needs to stop.

    I'm not sure who added the final blurb, "So our 1st amendment rights don't trump the right of the federal government to violate them?", but that entirely reminded me recently of another "trump" made recently. "The decision means that federal anti-drug laws trump state laws that allow the use of medical marijuana, said CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Ten states have such laws."

    I'm dead serious here. If the federal government keeps on their power trip fascism journey, well, they will be in for a rude awakening. This kind of government is one that will either start a civil war or a revolt by the people. I'm dead serious.

    Once people's standard of living here goes down a few notches, which is already happening with the skyrocketing cost of housing. But as soon as people get to a point where they cannot afford the basics anymore, or when something like Social Security goes bust, we will loose faith in the government, and that will be it.

    So, you feds, watch your step.

  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idarubicin (579475) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {teiuqslla}> on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:49AM (#15379412) Journal
    ...it's illegal for everyone except journalists to spread around classified information?

    Wait--it's only okay for them to publish classified information if it embarrasses the (admittedly bloodly stupid) government, or needs to be released. Good thing we have honest, upstanding, selfless journalists to handle those decisions, then.

    Good thinking, Slashdot.

    Have we considered, perhaps, taking a more nuanced position?

    • Re:So.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kohath (38547)
      ...it's illegal for everyone except journalists to spread around classified information? ...

      And journalists are who we say they are. For example, no one at Fox News or any of the hated right-wing news outlets are true journalists. Ask Slashdot. They'll tell you that. Therefore, these pseudo-journalists can be prosecuted. Just not the NY Times.

      Have we considered, perhaps, taking a more nuanced position?

      I don't think it gets any more nuanced.

      You just need to learn not to anger the ruling class. They're
  • by MECC (8478) * on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:51AM (#15379423)

    Is it illegal then? Even if its just to get back at political rivals? Even if the white house says "go ahead and leak to the press"? That's not illegal, but non-white house leaks are? Can you spell "corruption"?

    I knew you could...

  • Fair is fair (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:52AM (#15379425)
    Okay, if publishing leaks is a crime so it shall be to start a war based on false pretenses.
    Any takers?

    {crickets}
  • Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Monday May 22, 2006 @08:59AM (#15379475) Journal
    I have to side with "it depends" group. If someone is publishing the nuclear launch codes, the names of our spy agents (or any other covert team, like Navy seals and their accomplishments), plans for a strategic strike, etc (basically something that can cost people their lives if the news got out) then I am for - yea your ass is going to jail for being a dick. This includes things like "we are investigating a known terrorist, and since you just published his face in the paper he went so far underground he won't even be able to find his asshole to wipe it after he takes a dump"...

    I understand what the otherside is doing "but what if the gov't names granny apple as a terrorist when she really is a sweet old lady who gives people apples...who can help her if we cant talk about it." Well this is where the gov't is wrong and the journalist should be allowed.

    We get in trouble when we speak of absolutes, and there are people on one side of the fence who say 100% 1st amendment right trumps. and people on the other side of the fence who say 100% National Security trumps. They are both wrong - it needs to be a depends. The journalist needs to use common sense, and the courts can prevail. If the journalist was doing something in the best act for our nation then kudos for him/her...if the jurnalist was only thinking about the Pulitzer Prize - well depending on the damage he/she may have caused they may be rightfully getting it post humously.
  • by Vo0k (760020) on Monday May 22, 2006 @09:03AM (#15379513) Journal
    Seems currently in the USA the 1st amendment guarantees freedom of speech, but not freedom after speech...
  • by Mr Z (6791) on Monday May 22, 2006 @09:07AM (#15379535) Homepage Journal

    The Introduction to the Court Opinion on the New York Times Co. v. United States Case [state.gov] (the Pentagon Papers case) opens with:

    In a democracy, there is always a tension between a free press and the government, between what the government claims ought to be kept confidential and what reporters believe the public ought to know.

    There are some other choice tidbits in there... such as (emphasis added):

    [The First Amendment] leaves, in my view, no room for governmental restraint on the press. There is, moreover, no statute barring the publication by the press of the material which the Times and Post seek to use... [I]t is apparent that Congress was capable of and did distinguish between publishing and communication in the various sections of the Espionage Act.

    So any power that the Government possesses must come from its "inherent power." The power to wage war is "the power to wage war successfully." But the war power stems from a declaration of war. The Constitution by Article I, Section 8, gives Congress, not the President, power "to declare War." Nowhere are presidential wars authorized. We need not decide therefore what leveling effect the war power of Congress might have.

    These disclosures may have a serious impact. But that is no basis for sanctioning a previous restraint on the press...The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of governmental sup-pression of embarrassing information. A debate of large proportions goes on in the Nation over our posture in Vietnam. Open debate and discussion of public issues are vital to our National Health. The stays in these cases that have been in effect for more than a week constitute a flouting of the principles of the First Amendment as interpreted in [Near v. Minnesota].

    Hmm....

    --Joe
  • by Jtheletter (686279) on Monday May 22, 2006 @09:39AM (#15379774)
    "'But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity,' he said. 'And so those two principles have to be accommodated.'"

    OK, so what the Attorney General is saying here is that a well-established and extremely core right to freedom of the press that is clearly enumerated in the First Amendment can be trumped by a non-existant so-called "right" for the government to prosecute criminals that people may only WANT to see?

    I'm sorry, I thought I was living in a country based on laws, the rule of law, and upon a foundation of the constitution of our nation which all federal government officers and military personal have sworn to uphold. NOT a place where one man's personal interpretations of the feelings of the population somehow create new "rights" that somehow are rights fot he federal government. There are no federal government rights in the constitution, there are rights fo PEOPLE, there are LIMITATIONS for government.

    Mayve when the people, through their elected representatives, actually push through amendments that clearly revoke freedom of the press and also push forward with clarity the "right" for the federal government to prosecute crimes at any cost to liberty than Gonzalez might be in the right on this one, but until then he's talking about something even he admits is at best only something people "would like to have" - as in not the law currently.

    I, for one, am sick of the Bush administration and its lawyers trampling rights and rewriting laws baased on fast and loose or extremely technical interpretations of laws that are essentially legal loopholes. What they are doing is making a mockery of the law. They are searching statutes for minute differences in wordings that can be exploited to permit or disallow whatever is politically advantageous for them. And most of these interpretations seem to fly in the face of the spirit of the laws they are citing. If congress had truly intended these laws to be interpreted as is being done then they would have clearly enumerated these gotchas, not secretly imbedded them in tricky wording waiting for some clever lawyer to discover congress' "true intention" of the law that somehow went unnoticed for years. The Loophole Legality policy of the Bush admin has been used to justify everything from torture, to renditions, to suspension of haebois corpus to restrictions on speech at just about every level (I don't care how the law is interpretted, our founders never intended freedom of speech to be satisified by locking all dissenting protestors in a big cage far away from the politicians ala the RNC & DNC 'freedom of speech areas'). This has to stop. The SCOTUS needs to wake up and start telling the Attorney General that him, his crony interpreters, and his policies can go take a flying leap as THEY and not him are the interpretters of the consititution and the rights granted therein. As in the actual rights granted and the laws that pertain to them, not phantom rights that people would supposedly like to see but aren't actually in law.

  • by richlv (778496) on Monday May 22, 2006 @10:19AM (#15380091)
    i'd just like to note that even though currently slashdot readers from usa can bash china for imprisoning journalists for publishing improper views, they are slowly moving towards similar situation.
    removing freedoms one by one in small steps (throwing in a bunch of fear, usually from terrorists) is quite effective, as shown here.
    big brother theories like 1984 or even more modern culture ones like deus ex makes me feel strange. things that seemed almost impossible and funny then are slowly coming to the country near you. or your country. not that many are noticing.
  • Rights vs. Powers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Titusdot Groan (468949) on Monday May 22, 2006 @10:45AM (#15380291) Journal
    The Gonazales quote shows a disturbing lack of understanding of what a right is.

    A right is something a person has. A power is something to goverment can do. The Constitution outlines how rights are a check on powers.

    The fact that the Attorney General of the US can even talk about the trade off of the first amendment rights against the right of the federal government shows how deeply he, and the President he works for, misunderstand the basic tenents of a constitutional republic.

  • by alfredo (18243) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:31AM (#15380787)
    It is not because we are more secure.

    If you remember some of the goals spelled out by Osama. First Osama wanted the US military out of Saudi Arabia. Bush pulled our military out.
    He wanted to goad us into war on their turf. The bombings of US interests were unsuccessful, Clinton didn't take the bait. He used law enforcement instead of the military. Out of frustration the planned a big attack that would get our attention. Bush took the bait and invaded Afghanistan. A limited war in Afghanistan is not quite what he wanted, but it seemed to keep him satisfied.

    Where bush went wrong was his invasion of Iraq. bush has delivered beyond Osama's wildest wet dream. The longer we are there, the better for Osama's agenda (drain our treasury, weakening our military, and weakening us world wide). As long as bush delivers what Osama wants, we will not be invaded.

    Back on topic

    What is going on is a power grab. Cheney is a big believer in an imperial president (Read up on Leo Strauss and the neo conservatives). Cheney and his fellow neo cons believe in a society far different from what is spelled out in our constitution. They want a dictatorship. The term "decider" is a newspeak word for dictator. People should have taken note when bush openly stated his support of a dictatorship back in Dec 18 2000.

    Gonzo's pronouncement is not a surprise to us in the trenches. We have been watching the neo cons working toward a Straussian inspired police state. They didn't need the threats when they had control of the media. His threats are a sign they are losing control.

    We all need to get informed and get involved. Time is running out. Maybe leaks should not hit the media first, they should be spread to tens of thousands first, then published. That way there will be too many people to imprison.

    When they threatened legal action against the people of Blackbox Voting, we spread the data all over the world. They couldn't stop us, there were too many of us. Rep Dennis Kucinich went as far as publishing the data on his website and dared the junta to come after him.

    Resist and stay free

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