The Patriot Act came along and killed due process, giving the U.S. military the ability to legally snatch people off the streets of America and send them away to a cell somewhere in Turkey, without the right to speak to an attorney or the benefit of a hearing in court. And we just sat there and took it. President Obama promised to close the prison at Guantanamo, but kept it open and we looked the other way. Mr. Obama, was handed the ability to send drones off into sovereign nations to assassinate individuals who were thought to be enemies of the United States (along with any collateral damage that might take place), and most of us said “fine.” “Just keep us safe, do whatever you have to, but keep us safe.” Then came word that our “withdrawal” from Afghanistan, won’t be a withdrawal at all. No, nine military bases will stay, but there was nary a whimper from the American people because the government had kept us safe. They had prevented another attack from taking place.
And now they are attacking our freedom of the press, the very heart of what’s left of our free society, and they are doing it under the guise of acting in our own best interest. Don’t you believe it.
Anyone who hasn’t been seriously worried about the elimination of our civil liberties from the beginning of this “homeland security” process needs to reexamine their priorities. Still, through it all, I remained optimistic for one reason. We had a trump card. We had the First Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting government from infringing on the freedom of the press. So long as we had that, we still had a chance to preserve the ideal that has always been America. The ideal of liberty. One person, one vote. Freedom of self-determination. Freedom for all under the due process of law. Oh, sorry. Scratch that due process thing. Sometimes I forget myself and slip back into the civil rights guarantees we used to have.
But I’m getting off-topic. Let’s just say our civil rights have been all but eliminated in the insane march to do whatever might be necessary to give the American people the impression that they are now safe. And maybe we are. Except from ourselves. From our very own system which now threatens to quash the American ideal by eliminating freedom of the press.
This goes beyond the unavoidable bias coming from reporters who are “embedded” with our troops. It goes directly to preventing the press from acquiring information from traditional sources, because those sources will no longer talk to the press. Why should they, when the Obama Justice Department goes out and secretly seizes the telephone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press?
Who will talk to the AP now? Who will provide information with the guarantee that a source will not be revealed? Nobody, that’s who, and there goes your freedom of the press, First Amendment be damned, along with our right as a free people to make informed choices about who we elect based upon the information coming to us from the legitimate news media.
The newspapers and networks have all trimmed their budgets and cut their staffs, but we did still have the Associated Press and its many sources to provide us with a sense of reality. Professional journalists who could press their sources for inside information, helping us to understand what was going on beyond the spin of professional politics and corporate public relations. Where do you suppose the “news” comes from? Who will talk to the AP or the other news organizations now?
Control the flow of information and you control what people think. Consequently, media outlets are among the first targets an invading force seeks to control. In the United States, they have been among the last. Don’t be fooled. They’re taking it away. Without the First Amendment the truth will die and the American ideal along with it. The one cannot survive without the other.