Bush Assault On Free Press More Serious Than Most People Knew
By James Donahue
Now that George W. Bush is finally out of
Washington, and he and his cronies are out of power, information is starting to be made public about how hard that gang was
working to clamp controls on all forms of communication.
They not only had their hammers over the
heads of the newspaper and television news industry, but these thugs were trying very hard to control what was published and
said in Internet traffic. Had they succeeded, there is a very good chance that America would never have had a fair election
and would have continued on its old path toward collapse and self-destruction while the “mob” cashed in on what
was left of the nation’s wealth.
The shocking emergence of Russell Tice, former
National Security Agency analyst, on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann the day after Bush left town is our first
case in point. Tice, who was fired for defending the nation’s Constitutional Amendments and leaking a story to the New
York Times about the illegal existence of the government’s wireless wiretapping program, said the NSA was blatantly
spying on ALL American communications, 24-hours a day and 7 days a week.
Tice said they specifically targeted journalists.
He said every fax, telephone call and computer communication emerging from the desks and computers of America’s journalists
was downloaded and filed by the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency.
“The National Security Agency had access
to all Americans’ communications,” Tice said. “It didn’t matter whether you were in Kansas, in the
middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications.” And they
did it without a court order.
After Tice leaked that one story, he said
he was frustrated in attempts to testify before Congress. He said he had his credibility attacked by Bush media puppets Bill
O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and even was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in an apparent attempt at intimidation.
He said his telephone has been tapped and his every move has been watched by federal agents ever since.
Also on the day after Bush, the U.S. Supreme
Court threw out an appeal by the old Justice Department to appeal federal court rulings against the Child Online Protection
Act (COPA) that the ACLU argued violated the First and Fifth Amendments.
The COPA law, if allowed to stand, would
have made it punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 or up to six months in prison for transmitting on the Internet “any
material that is harmful to minors” if not put behind a safeguard such as a requirement for payment or a special access
Material considered “harmful to minors”
would include written, photographic, recorded, or in any way “communicated” material considered obscene or “designed
to appeal to, or pander to prurient interest.” This would include material that “depicts, describes, or represents
in a manner patently offensive an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, an actual or simulated normal or perverted
sexual act, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast.”
Imagine what a field day the government would
have with a law like that on the books. Free expression via the World Wide Web would have been so stymied that nearly everything
people now freely view would be banned unless we pay to enter the site. Even the top news sites would be off limits once they
publish a story about, say, a man dashing naked across a football field in the midst of a televised game. That has been happening
frequently. Everybody laughs. Nobody is offended. Children don’t see much if anything. Even if they did, what harm has
been done? Even children know the anatomy of a naked man. Sex is a way of life for everybody, and it is of interest to everybody.
Restricting glimpses of the female breast
is another ridiculous rule. Most people will agree that a healthy female breast is a beautiful thing, especially for babies
that turn to it for daily sustenance. To declare it evil is one sick act by twisted-minded religious fanatics.
Even more frightening was the effort to control
freedom of the written and spoken word. Chris Hansen, ACLU senior staff attorney and lead counsel in this case, said the battle
to maintain freedom of speech on the Internet has been a long and hard fought battle. “It is not the role of the government
to decide what people can see and do on the Internet. Those are personal decisions that should be made by individuals and