Guardian reporting on revelations from Edward Snowden is prompting threats of censorship.
Mike Masnick writes at TechDirt: “David Cameron Working To Stop UK Press From Publishing Anything More From Snowden Leaks.”
It looks like Glenn Greenwald picked the right time to leave the UK’s The Guardian newspaper. Last week, we noted that David Cameron was pushing for an investigation into the paper for publishing stories based on Ed Snowden’s leaks, and now Cameron is going even further in his attempt to stomp out any sense of a free press in the UK, threatening to make moves to block UK publications from writing anything else new about as-yet-unreleased Snowden documents. Because that’ll stop the outrage.
David Cameron threatened on Monday to act to stop newspapers publishing what he called damaging leaks from former U.S. intelligence operative Edward Snowden.
“If they don’t demonstrate some social responsibility it will be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act,” Cameron told parliament.
I love that phrase “social responsibility.” Because an awful lot of people would argue that the Guardian has demonstrated a hell of a lot more “social responsibility” in publishing the stories they have, revealing the massive overreach of the NSA, GCHQ and others in violating the civil liberties of people around the globe.
But it isn’t just a social responsibility that effected private citizens by showing them what our government was doing to us in our name without our consent. Remember, even the Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee had no idea what they NSA was doing, until Edward Snowden revealed the truth. They had managed to figure out that the agency was operating by a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, but they had no idea what that interpretation entailed. So the Guardian and other newspapers that wrote stories about Edward Snowden’s allegations were essential to allowing elected representatives to do their job and oversee the Federal agencies.
Thus, what Cameron is threatening to do is make it harder for the government to actually control the NSA or for Parliament to oversee the British version. It seems our intelligence agencies are supposed to function as autonomous kingdoms, insulated from the people who are voted into office as supposed rulers of the country.
Just to remind everyone, if we have a government in which people are unaccountable and whose policies or interpretations and applications of laws are secret, then that government is in no way a Democracy or a Republic. If that is how the system works, then we only have the power to elect figureheads who have no real control of the government.
Furthermore, those agencies themselves will gain the power to “filter” the available candidates through blackmail or some other means using their power and influence.
The bottom line here, whether you like Edward Snowden or not, is that the First Amendment isn’t just to allow people to learn what their government is doing, but it is to allow the government to learn what the government is doing.