Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Mon, Jun 26 2006

War, Treason and the Press

I do not always agree with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's stance on issues, but I did happily note his recommendation to proceed with caution when throwing out talk about prosecuting newspapers. If Representative King wishes to go after newspapers for their reporting, he can certainly begin a push to do so. But his actions may also serve to make Americans more curious than ever about why the federal government's monitoring of communications was done on such a level that would cause Senator King to suddenly make news stories a Homeland Security issue. Calling into question the freedom of the Press may make Representative King feel good, but most of us get very nervous when politicians start trying to use real or perceived power to lessen any of the basic freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights. And whenever one hears noises that one freedom from the Bill of Rights seems to be at odds with another freedom in that same Bill of Rights, it might be prudent to remember that the original writers of our Constitution wanted to use broad language that would give assurance that future generations of Americans would retain enough rights so that they need never fear our country's political leadership could become tyrants.

On the very serious issue that printing leaks might be considered treason during time of war, I might need to review my history. As I recall, no formal declaration of war has been made against anyone in this particular instance. I believe we have formally declared war as a nation on less than a dozen occasions. If by "war" we mean conflict or military action against any other nation or any group of people, I would become a bit nervous. We're always in some kind of conflict as a nation. If a conflict with any group—al Qaeda, communists, dog trainers, Southern Baptists—can be considered a state of war, we are in danger of having our government give itself license to prosecute the press or any other dissenting group at any time, as traitors. Somehow, I doubt very much that the writers of the Bill of Rights intended to open the door to such tyranny against the people.

I'd much rather err on the side of freedom than the side of tyranny. The alternative is an eventual end to the Bill of Rights altogether.

posted at: 14:42 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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