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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Not exactly FOI, but terribly important...

Defenders of press freedom should carefull monitor the Sarah Olson affair.

We often hear that the Pentagon exists to defend our freedoms. But the Pentagon is moving against press freedom, in a truly troubling way.

Journalist Sarah Olson received a subpoena to testify next month in the court-martial of US Army Lt. Ehren Watada, who now faces prosecution for speaking against the Iraq War and refusing to participate in it.

They want Olson to testify to authenticate her quotes from Watada - enlisting a reporter to substantiate quotes? Didn't she quote Watada already? What's to be gained?

No one here is arguing that national security, or the commission of a crime, or any other compelling interest is at stake. Indeed, they just want Olson to walk into a military courtroom and read back quotes...


Well, perhaps Olson put it best:

Ms. Olson, who has written:

"It is my job as a professional journalist to report the news, not to act as the eyes and ears of the government. I am repelled by this approach that jeopardizes my credibility and seeks to compel my participation in muting public speech and dissenting personal opinion.

"It seems clear that the U.S. Army is attempting to redefine the parameters of acceptable speech and to classify dissent as a punishable offense. Subpoenaing journalists in this case unequivocally sends the message that dissent is neither tolerated nor permitted. Utilize your constitutionally guaranteed speech rights and go to prison. What rational soldier would agree to speak with me or any other member of the media if jail was a likely result?"

For more: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Sarah_Olson

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