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McCauley writes: "The impunity with which the American government spies on journalists and attorneys is undermining the American people's ability to hold their leaders accountable, thus threatening the core of our democracy, charged a joint report published Monday by two leading rights organizations."

Government surveillance is threatening democracy. (photo: Lotus Carroll/Flickr)
Government surveillance is threatening democracy. (photo: Lotus Carroll/Flickr)


Government Surveillance Threatens Journalism, Law and Thus Democracy

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

29 July 14

 

Interviews with dozens of leading journalists and attorneys found that U.S. government overreach is eroding critically important freedoms

he impunity with which the American government spies on journalists and attorneys is undermining the American people's ability to hold their leaders accountable, thus threatening the core of our democracy, charged a joint report published Monday by two leading rights organizations.

The report—With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy, published by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch—draws from extensive interviews with dozens of top journalists, lawyers and senior government officials. What the authors found is that recent revelations of widespread government surveillance have forced many professionals to alter or abandon work related to "matters of great public concern."

According to the report, "Surveillance has magnified existing concerns among journalists and their sources over the administration’s crackdown on leaks." With increasing prosecution of whistleblowers, restrictions on communication between intelligence officials and the media, and snitch programs for federal workers, journalists say that their sources have become "increasingly scared to talk about anything."

"It's a terrible time to be covering government," NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten told the report authors.

Further, journalists are forced to employ elaborate means of communicating with their sources, such as encryption and "burner" phones, which hampers their work.

The report argues that these increasing impediments have resulted in "less information reaching the public," thus having a "direct effect on the public’s ability to obtain important information about government activities, and on the ability of the media to serve as a check on government."

"Secrecy works against all of us," said Dana Priest, a reporter for the Washington Post. "What makes government better is our work exposing information. It's not just that it's harder for me to do my job, though it is. It [also] makes the country less safe."

Similarly, lawyers say that government surveillance has crippled their ability to maintain confidential correspondence with their clients, threatening the trust, free exchange of information, and potentially the security of those involved.

Jason Wright, a member of the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps who does work before the Guantanamo commissions, told the researchers that he and his colleagues are "fearful" that their communications with witnesses abroad are being monitored and consequently, attempts to build their case "might put people in harm's way."

The authors charge that this amounts to the "erosion of the right to counsel," which they say is a "pillar of procedural justice under human rights law and the US Constitution."

"The US holds itself out as a model of freedom and democracy, but its own surveillance programs are threatening the values it claims to represent," said report author Alex Sinha, Aryeh Neier Fellow at HRW and the ACLU. "The US should genuinely confront the fact that its massive surveillance programs are damaging many critically important rights."

Along with the report, the groups published this video highlighting their work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bloPC_BHCDQ

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

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+4 # fredboy 2014-07-29 08:54
Yes, it threatens a revival of great journalism. The best spirits journalism will draw will bring remarkable vigilance.
 
 
+7 # tswhiskers 2014-07-29 09:16
Thanks to a number of circumstances we have not had a truly free press for a long time, but the surveillance by the NSA has made it impossible. I'm glad that the ACLU etc. have published their findings re loss of press and legal freedoms. Perhaps this report will at last bring home to the entire political class the damage being done to all areas of American life. I would like to think this threat would bring together both parties to at least attempt to leash the NSA by limiting its oversight abilities or perhaps by severely limiting what information gained by such surveillance can be used in court cases. We elect people to solve these important issues or us. Politicians never hesitate to broadcast their abilities and willingness to deal with the difficult problems. I guess the REAL problem is that WE THE PEOPLE seldom, if ever, take the time to see how well or ill those overeager polls fulfill their promises.
 
 
-5 # HowardMH 2014-07-29 09:57
WE THE PEOPLE got to act.

Until there are thousands (OK I will concede there are not that many that even understand what is going on in Washington DC, much less get pissed off about it so let’s say 1 thousand really, really pissed off people on Capital Hill all at the same time – with base ball bats, or 2 x 2s) raising some serious hell against the Lunatics, and idiots absolutely nothing is ever, ever going to happen to these totally bought and paid for by the richest 50 people in the world that are becoming more and more powerful with each passing rigged election thanks to the stupid people.

“For you retards that think the above means attack with weapons, that is not what I said. 2 x 2s do not constitute attacking with weapons, but it just might get the imbeciles on Capital Hill attention IF enough showed up at the same time. As some retards already found out delivering cantaloupes didn’t get the job done.

How much success have you had with the TOTALLY NON VIOLENT protests over the last few years?

I’m no fan of Sarah’s but this comment is just so appropriate. So how is that Hopie, Changie working out for you now?
 
 
+3 # Majikman 2014-07-29 11:26
Molly Ivans had a much better idea...making one helluva racket banging pots & pans. Now that I could fully engage in.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2014-07-31 17:29
Quoting Majikman:
Molly Ivans had a much better idea...making one helluva racket banging pots & pans. Now that I could fully engage in.


Or, as the mighty Emma Goldman once said (before they deported her) "If I can't dance, I won't come to your revolution!"
 
 
+2 # jmrsp 2014-07-29 15:29
i've seen this comment, possible verbatim, once before, either on this site or another. not sure its the same troll or if there is a group of them.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2014-07-31 17:33
Quoting jmrsp:
i've seen this comment, possible verbatim, once before, either on this site or another. not sure its the same troll or if there is a group of them.

It's a deeply-grooved long-playing record that ol' Howard trots out from time to monotonous time -more often than we'd like, hence the red thumbs, either as a self-plagiarizi ng irritant or just 'cause he's too bloody lazy to think up something original as befits the subject matter.
 
 
+2 # ritawalpoleague 2014-07-29 11:55
Big problem with "...this report will bring home to the entire political class the damage being done to all areas of American life." And, what's the big problem?

Far too many pols. these days, care not one bit of any and all freedoms are lost. Greed and need for control over all is all they and their puppeteers care about. And, quashing of all rights, rule of law, et. al., puts and keep control in the hands of those evil villainaires, done by buying off their puppet pols, and buying them into office.

Total knowledge re. what all citizens say and do, a.k.a. NSA constant surveillance, is but one more way for the villainaires to get and keep total control. And, I say this as a woman now, evidently, placed on the government's terrorist list. Pull up on RSN:

The Secret Government Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist.

What a mess from hell! Time for us all to wake up, and leave La La Land behind.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2014-07-30 10:01
The new Obama -backed and bi-partisan--Le ahy Bill (See elsewhere on this site) will hopefully begin the process of gaining more control over the NSA with the aims of making it both less inclusive and--as Edward Snowden has noted--more effective and efficient at its true mission--defens e of the nation.
 
 
-2 # db4635 2014-07-29 09:56
Yes, I want a truly free press. I want the media to blast across every front page, every webpage, every tv screen all the US's secrets on tracking terrorists plotting to kill Americans, like the 9/11 hijackers who would have been discovered if the NSA had their phone tracking program in place. I want every discrete communique between US officials and foreign government blasted throughout the media so attempts to work with not-so-friendly regimes to locate terrorists in their mist will be exposed. After all, don't terrorists deserve to be warned when their plots have been detected?

The problem, folks, is that the modern day media are so hell bent to get profits from their big scoops that they will print anything.
 
 
+3 # lfeuille 2014-07-29 15:03
[quote name="db4635"] like the 9/11 hijackers who would have been discovered if the NSA had their phone tracking program in place.

They was no need for an extra powers. It would have been discovered if intelligence agencies had shared the information they already had. This is a bogus argument.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2014-07-31 17:38
Quoting db4635:
Yes, I want a truly free press. I want the media to blast across every front page, every webpage, every tv screen all the US's secrets on tracking terrorists plotting to kill Americans, like the 9/11 hijackers who would have been discovered if the NSA had their phone tracking program in place. I want every discrete communique between US officials and foreign government blasted throughout the media so attempts to work with not-so-friendly regimes to locate terrorists in their mist will be exposed. After all, don't terrorists deserve to be warned when their plots have been detected?

The problem, folks, is that the modern day media are so hell bent to get profits from their big scoops that they will print anything.


They WERE discovered long before the attacks and the Dimwits administration was warned by many diverse sources like Iran AND Israel and ever their own CIA but in their wanton, cloistered hubris, the warnings were ignored by Condosleazy Rice, Torquemada Cheney and the rest, which feeds nicely into the amply-displayed planned demolition of the Twin Towers and Building 7 (I'm one of these pesky Architects and Engineers for 9-11 truth).
 
 
+8 # reiverpacific 2014-07-29 10:10
Just a wee echo of hope, just as it seems the US owner-media is dead (even for entertainment, never mind news) and that includes most of PBS and their corporate "Grants", the "Alternative" media like "Democracy Now!" "Flashpoints", "Alternative radio", "Common Dream", RSN and a few paper 'zines, are growing in support and reader/listener ship as more people, including the practically disowned grassroots youth, demand more substantial news and public affairs about their own nation and the world in general.
It's interesting that "The Guardian" and "Al Jazeera" are sources of news about the US and the world and the BBC is used more than Reuters by PBS for international affairs.
So ignore y'r TV and tune y'r radios to the left side of the FM dial, which is where most of the good stuff settles as low-bandwidth locally produced and supported progressive radio stations.
 
 
+2 # Bernard Fudim 2014-07-29 11:04
With the Murdoch Newspaper monopoly and the proposed Time Warner/Comcast monopoly and these institutions no longer deserve the constitutional protection as the Fourth Estate. They should be investigated and kept track of just as any corporations selling their products.
 
 
+1 # Concerned Citizen 2014-07-29 12:08
To genuine Patriots, the report With Liberty to Monitor All is a wake-up call to revive a failing democracy. To those behind the surveillance programs, it’s confirmation of the success of their efforts to quell descent. Such individuals revel in the power unfettered surveillance affords them. They will never disabuse themselves of that power willingly!
 
 
+3 # Buddha 2014-07-29 13:08
Journalism was pretty much already dead in America before widespread NSA surveillance, as soon as MegaCorps bought our communications industry and started caring more about return-on-inves tment and all shows being required to generate a profit through corporate advertising (which meant no more speaking truth to power and undercovering misdeads of our corporate controlled government).
 
 
0 # Nominae 2014-07-30 01:01
Quoting Buddha:
Journalism was pretty much already dead in America before widespread NSA surveillance, as soon as MegaCorps bought our communications industry and started caring more about return-on-investment and all shows being required to generate a profit through corporate advertising (which meant no more speaking truth to power and undercovering misdeads of our corporate controlled government).


Absolutely. And the buying up of our media by MegaCorps was the necessary prelude to effectively installing and maintaining a NSA Super Behemoth like the one that we presently "enjoy".

In the presence of free flowing and accurate information, a National State made up of Secret Laws, adjudicated via Secret Courts, assigning illegal (I'm sorry - "extra-legal") Secret Renditions, Secret Punishments, et al, is much more difficult to maintain.
 
 
+1 # Vardoz 2014-07-29 21:31
What Democracy?
 
 
0 # Nominae 2014-07-30 00:51
While I enthusiasticall y applaud the release and dissemination of these data to the general population, and to the younger citizens in specific, a large portion of this report, to people "of a certain age", falls *directly* into the "No Kidding" Category.

In a quote from the article, echoing the headline assigned, we hear: "The impunity with which the American government spies on journalists and attorneys is undermining the American people's ability to hold their leaders accountable, thus threatening the core of our democracy..."

Indeed, creating a National atmosphere of FEAR, SECRECY and general PARANOIA, is *designed* to "threaten the core" of our democracy.

This is, in short, no "accident", or "side effect" of anything else. It *IS* the main goal and intent.

It is a bit of ironic genius to recognize the fact that, by creating a National Atmosphere of Fear and Mutual Mistrust between "Everyone", and "Everyone Else", Americans will simply stop *USING* their "Rights" (especially because their "Rights" no longer actually "work" anyway), thus relieving the Govt. of the embarrassing spectacle of repealing the entire Bill of Rights right out in the Sunshine in front of gawd and *everybody* - smack-dab in the middle of the World Stage.

But, please forgive my nit pick. I *do* recognize the fact that I would rather have the *real* info out there be glaringly redundant, than for it to fall completely silent.
 

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