Sunday, May 21, 2006

Attorney General Gonzales Voices More AntiFirst Amendment Nonsense

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales almost on a daily basis continues to make a pretty good case for himself why he is wholly unfit to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Beginning with questions coming into office about support for torture of foreign detainees, continuing through almost daily questions about screwball or misplaced priorites or on the job incompetence, Gonzales manages to value priorities that nearly no one else does, or are politically based, or ignore genuine public concern priorities. Gonzales is yet another example of Bush cronyism gone horriby wrong. Being a personal friend of Bush is no good reason to assume that someone is qualified enough to head a major agency such as the U.S. Justice Department.

Gonzales is well known for a dire view of the First Amendment and Bill Of Rights. Some might even say he's never seen anything in the Bill Of Rights that he even likes. Now Gonzales has voiced a chilling new opinion that journalists could be prosecuted for revealing information that the government considers to be "classified". He claims that somewhere in the mountains and mountains of law books is some language that allows journalists to be jailed for printing information that could "endanger" the "national security".

While there are clear laws that public officials should not "out" CIA agents in a vendeta to get even for voicing political opinions different than that of the administration, which is the crux of the CIA leak case that currently embroils "Scooter" Libby and even touches Karl Rove, it is far more questionable to hold journalists responsible for commenting on or presenting news to inform or to create a national debate on vital issues.

During the 1970's a book, THE CIA & THE CULT OF INTELLIGENCE by a former CIA official was subject to prior restraint and court ordered censorship where long passages and sometimes relatively harmless seeming words were deleted when published. Yet it was very clear that many of the passages related to well known U.S. CIA efforts to undermine the leftist government of Salvadore Allende in Chile. U.S. journalists had long written about such CIA activity.

While the author of THE CIA & THE CULT OF INTELLIGENCE and public officials are held to one standard, because clearly written laws deal with their responsibility with the information that they professionally handle, journalists have never been held to the same standards for opinions on public policy matters. Gonzales wishes to make journalists responsible for an absurd standard of govenment secrecy in which many documents from even WWII are still considered to be classified. In fact the government has even recently moved to make many previously declassified documents as reclassified. Many of these documents seem dated, and this seems like a highly questionable standard for dated materials of great historical interest. But making journalists liable for revealing "classifed" information raises their standard of responsibility to an absurd level as journalists cannot be sure what material or information is considered to be as classified or not.

Gonzales is a real master at bluring the line on Constitutional issues. His legal skills seem better honed at looking for ways to limit and cut down civil liberties than anything else. Only because of the Iraq War and the incompetence of Donald Rumsfeld has Gonzales avoided more criticism than he richly deserves.


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