Just when I think that this democracy can’t become any more “in name only,” I read stories like this (via Raw Story).
Legislation aimed at helping the United States prosecute WikiLeaks and other sources of leaked information was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Tuesday.
“Julian Assange and his associates who have operated and supported WikiLeaks not only damaged US national security with their releases of classified documents, but also placed at risk countless lives, including those of our Nation’s intelligence sources around the world,” Rep. King, the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement.
“As international pressure has held back Assange, we now find that his colleagues are planning to spin off a new website called OpenLeaks, dedicated to the same dangerous conduct.”
Um, let’s get one thing straight. Journalism is not “dangerous conduct.” Journalism, proper journalism at least, allows for an informed public. And that in turn allows for that informed public to make informed decisions on, say, Election Day. And while certain establishments have done a great deal and spent countless dollars to destroy journalism, its original purpose remains the same.
The bill, known as the the SHIELD Act, would amend the Espionage Act to make publishing classified information “concerning the identity of a classified source or informant of an element of the intelligence community” an act of espionage.
So why is telling the truth, and informing voters about the deeds and misdoings of the government, considered “dangerous conduct” by politicians such as Peter King? Well, either he’s a fool who doesn’t understand the concept of the free press and therefore should not be serving in Congress, or he doesn’t care about what Thomas Jefferson (you know, that Thomas Jefferson — the writer) had to say about the importance to democracy of the press.
The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.
Maybe King doesn’t have the same impression of democracy as Thomas Jefferson did. Or may I simply misunderstand Jefferson’s words.
Either way, King has it out for WikiLeaks. And he isn’t fighting alone.
Sens. John Ensign (R-NV), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced similar legislation in the Senate last week.
Glad to see we’ve got such principled men running our country.
This article was originally posted at Liberaland.