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Thread: The Government and the 1st. Amendment

  1. #1
    Senior Member cotts135's Avatar
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    Default The Government and the 1st. Amendment

    With the recent disclosure by Wikileaks and the Governments, and Free presses reaction to it, I came across this article that I thought some of here might be interrested in.

    To Tell the Truth Matthew Dowd National Journal

    Judging by the press accounts, Washington is still buzzing over WikiLeaks’ release of classified U.S. government information, with both Republicans and Democrats expressing outrage over the disclosures. Meanwhile, many media outlets seem to be practically mute on the subject, avoiding comment on whether WikiLeaks provided a public service or disservice.

    Let me offer one man’s perspective on the controversy, from an apartment in Austin, Texas.

    As I was sitting with my three grown sons over the post-Thanksgiving weekend watching football at their place (where they have lived together for nearly a year without a major fight, the place burning down, or the police showing up), my oldest son, who served in the Army for five years and was deployed in Iraq for nearly a year and half, turned to me and asked, “When as a country did we become a place where the government gets upset when its secrets are revealed but has no problem knowing all our secrets and invading our privacy?”

    Hmm, interesting question.

    In Washington’s polarized political environment, Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on a few things: That the government, in the name of fighting terrorism, has the right to listen in on all of our phone conversations and read our e-mails, even if it has no compelling reason for doing so. That the government can use machines at the airport that basically conduct the equivalent of strip searches of every passenger. That the government, for as long as it wants, can withhold any information from the public that it decides is in the national interest and is classified. And that when someone reveals this information, they are reviled on all sides, with the press corps staying silent.

    When did we decide that revealing the truth about the government is wrong?

    I recall during the Clinton administration when Republicans expressed outrage over a White House health care task force holding “secret” meetings and not releasing the names of attendees or the topics of discussion. And then not many years later, Democrats expressing similar outrage at the Bush administration’s secrecy when it held private meetings related to energy policy. Now both sides have gotten together to attack WikiLeaks over the opposite situation: They are criticizing the Internet watchdog for openly releasing information related to how our government conducts foreign policy.

    Everyone in Washington claims to support transparency and government openness during campaign season and when it’s popular to do so. They castigate the other side when it does things in secret and suggest that its intentions must be nefarious if it is unwilling to make its deliberations public. But when an organization discloses how our foreign policy is conducted, some of these same people claim that the release will endanger lives or threaten national security, or that the founder of WikiLeaks is a criminal.

    When did we decide that we trust the government more than its citizens? And that revealing the truth about the government is wrong? And why is the media complicit in this? Did we not learn anything from the run-up to the Iraq war when no one asked hard questions about the justifications for the war and when we accepted statements from government officials without proper pushback?

    My own sense is that we should err on the side of telling the truth, even when it’s inconvenient or when it makes our lives—or the business of government—more complicated. And that people who tell the truth should at the very least not be denigrated. That’s something I learned when I was young, and that I tried to impart to my three boys when they were growing up. As Albert Einstein is reported to have said long ago, “The search for truth implies a duty. One must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.”

    And shouldn’t news organizations be defending WikiLeaks and doing some soul-searching of their own about why they aren’t devoting more resources to the search for the truth? Why is it that the National Enquirer and Internet blogs sometimes seem better than they are at finding out what’s really going on?

    When we’re mired in a political environment where much of the public distrusts the federal government and despises both parties, maybe we should all reflect on what a former soldier, who put himself in harm’s way defending freedom, our way of life, and the Constitution—including the First Amendment—asked me in a living room in Austin during a football game.

    If we want to restore trust in our government, maybe we can start by telling the truth, keeping fewer secrets, and respecting the privacy of average citizens a little more. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both.”

    This article appeared in the Saturday, December 4, 2010 edition of National Journal.

    Highlights are mine

  2. #2
    Senior Member subroc's Avatar
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    how naive....
    subroc

    Article [I.]
    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.
    Article [II.]
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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    Senior Member cotts135's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by subroc View Post
    how naive....
    Really....... Please explain

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    Senior Member subroc's Avatar
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    Are there secrets worth keeping?

    Is the reason for lack of reporting political (a desire to not embarrass democrats)?

    If this information hurts or damages your nation, where do you stand?

    Who should decide what is worthy of being kept secret? You? What qualifies you to decide what is sensitive material?

    That should get you started...
    subroc

    Article [I.]
    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.
    Article [II.]
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by subroc View Post
    how naive....
    On your part?

    I find it ironically upsetting that govt officials are outraged about the Wikileaks revealing "intimate govt secrets"; while these same officials insist that they be allowed to use the "Patriot" Act etc to look into private citizens private affairs, or the TSA be allowed to do body scans or "pat downs" that would qualify as sexual assault if you or I did the same

    All in the interest of Security???? If these govt officials were any good at security then Mr. Assange would have never been able to get the "sensitive and revealing" documents to release in the first place.

    I still remember after the 9-11 attacks when people were afraid to go out of the house, George Bush told us that we should resume travelling, shopping etc. and return to our normal way of living. He stated that if we allowed the terrorists to change the way we do things, and give up our freedoms then the terrorists had won.
    Since that time the govt has forced us to change many of the things we do and how we do them. If I'm going to be felt up at the airport I'd prefer it to be done by a person of my choosing.

    Mile high club regards
    Last edited by mjh345; 12-05-2010 at 10:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member subroc's Avatar
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    I am not sure what wikileaks has to do with tsa really. I suppose just lumping disassociated ideas together, means something. I just don't get it.

    On to the discussion at hand, do you believe there is information that is senative enough to be kept from public knowledge?
    subroc

    Article [I.]
    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.
    Article [II.]
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by subroc View Post
    I am not sure what wikileaks has to do with tsa really. I suppose just lumping disassociated ideas together, means something. I just don't get it.

    On to the discussion at hand, do you believe there is information that is senative enough to be kept from public knowledge?
    Subroc, You say "I just don't get it".
    That is extremely obvious.
    When you comment on a thread, it should be incumbent upon you to read and understand the OP. The article in the OP is dealing with security issues. It addresses Wikileaks, airport security, and invasions of privacy on both the individual and govermental level.

    Are you up to speed now?

    As to your question: Yes I believe there is info that is "senative" [your spelling, not mine] enough to be kept from public knowledge. I do not believe most if any of the info Wikileaks has released rises to that level. Additionally I have little sympathy for the govt when these documents, which they claim are so security sensitive and were not properly safeguarded by them.
    Now a question for you. In light of the obvious gaps in the govt's security protocols, how much confidence do you have in their ability to safeguard information they get based on their eavesdropping on private citizens personal emails, conversations, library, banking etc records

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    Senior Member subroc's Avatar
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    here is your hero:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog...ange-wikileaks

    A very good question from the Q and A that wasn't answered:

    Julian.
    I am a former British diplomat. In the course of my former duties I helped to coordinate multilateral action against a brutal regime in the Balkans, impose sanctions on a renegade state threatening ethnic cleansing, and negotiate a debt relief programme for an impoverished nation. None of this would have been possible without the security and secrecy of diplomatic correspondence, and the protection of that correspondence from publication under the laws of the UK and many other liberal and democratic states. An embassy which cannot securely offer advice or pass messages back to London is an embassy which cannot operate. Diplomacy cannot operate without discretion and the
    protection of sources. This applies to the UK and the UN as much as the US.
    In publishing this massive volume of correspondence, Wikileaks is not highlighting specific cases of wrongdoing but undermining the entire process of diplomacy. If you can publish US cables then you can publish UK telegrams and UN emails.
    My question to you is: why should we not hold you personally responsible when next an international crisis goes unresolved because diplomats cannot function.
    Last edited by subroc; 12-05-2010 at 12:04 PM.
    subroc

    Article [I.]
    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.
    Article [II.]
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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    Senior Member sandyg's Avatar
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    The problem as I see is that the government can't have it both ways. They can't have everything they do kept secret from "we the people" yet be able to stick their hands down our pants at airports, track us using our cell phones and On Star, and monitor all of our internet usage.


  10. #10
    Senior Member cotts135's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by subroc View Post
    Are there secrets worth keeping?
    Very broad question but of course there is.

    Is the reason for lack of reporting political (a desire to not embarrass democrats)?
    Or Republicans.

    If this information hurts or damages your nation, where do you stand?
    I never want to see the nation hurt by anything. If though we are breaking the law and protecting people by lying to the public then it needs to be disclosed. I think we as a Nation can survive that. It might not be without consequences but the people to be blamed should not be the messengers.


    Who should decide what is worthy of being kept secret? You? What qualifies you to decide what is sensitive material?
    No, not something I would like to do. Have you read any of the cables that have been disclosed? If you have then you have to question why some of this stuff had been classified in the first place. It has been way overdone.

    Do you trust your government that you would allow them to go unchecked? How far do you let them go?

    And do you think classification should be used to cover up crimes?

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