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article imageOp-Ed: Feds limit journalists and begin domestic propaganda

By Justin King     Sep 13, 2013 in World
The government attempt to define "journalist" is covered in the “shield law” that purports to protect journalists, but only establishes a federal definition for a journalist, which can be used to remove First Amendment rights from others.
The stated reason for the law was to protect journalists from revealing their sources. However, the law excludes this protection in “classified leak cases when information would prevent or mitigate an act of terrorism or harm to national security.” It also has exemptions for information gained by criminal conduct; or information the government claims may be able to stop death, kidnapping, substantial bodily injury, sex offenses against minors, or incapacitation or destruction of critical infrastructure. These claims would be made by the same government that said Bradley Manning’s leaks endangered lives, though they weren’t really sure how. These exemptions provide an argument for government prosecutors that could have been used in every recent leak case, making the protections offered by it completely void.
The part of the law that will actually matter is the federal government’s definition of who can be called a “journalist.” The ironically named “Free Flow of Information Act” defines a journalist as
COVERED PERSON- The term ‘covered person’--
(A) means a person who--
(i) with the primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information concerning local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest, regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes on such matters by--
(I) conducting interviews;
(II) making direct observation of events; or
(III) collecting, reviewing, or analyzing original writings, statements, communications, reports, memoranda, records, transcripts, documents, photographs, recordings, tapes, materials, data, or other information whether in paper, electronic, or other form;
(ii) has such intent at the inception of the process of gathering the news or information sought; and
(iii) obtains the news or information sought in order to disseminate the news or information by means of print (including newspapers, books, wire services, news agencies, or magazines), broadcasting (including dissemination through networks, cable, satellite carriers, broadcast stations, or a channel or programming service for any such media), mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means;
With that definition, it would seem like this is pretty encompassing. As with the rest of the law, the devil is in the details, or in this case, the exceptions. The seventh exception states that a person who is “reasonably likely” to be “committing or attempting the crime of providing material support, as that term is defined in section 2339A(b)(1) of title 18, United States Code, to a terrorist organization” does not receive journalist status. Material support, by its definition, includes attempting to conceal identities and information.
As the government positions itself to define exactly who can be called a journalist, and usher the rest of us off to prison at the point of gun, it has just repealed The Smith-Mundt Act. The Smith-Mundt Act was a decades old piece of legislation that barred the U.S. government from distributing propaganda within the United States. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act was passed as part of the infamous National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. Government spokespeople said they just wanted to bring quality broadcasting like Voice of America to the United States.
There is nothing to fear, the United States government would never run a propaganda campaign by tricking USA today into running a smear campaign in April of 2012, or try to conduct psychological operations through an independent website based in Minnesota opposed to U.S. influence in Somalia in July of this year.
The fourth estate status of the press in the United States has never been more threatened. If we are controlled by Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches, we cannot serve as the unofficial fourth branch of government. From this point forward, it would be best to look at the U.S. media as nothing more than the propaganda arm of the government. Simply put, you can’t trust us anymore.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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