Florida is under a state of emergency, legislators are considering closing committee meetings, and routine public records are being withheld in the name of a massive federal terrorism investigation. In the two weeks since suicide attacks killed thousands, civil libertarians are growing worried that Florida's ironclad Government- in-the-Sunshine Law -- the most open in the nation -- could become collateral damage.
Washington Post staff writer Howard Kurtz writes, "As the administration gears up for what President Bush has described as a new kind of war, many journalists are growing concerned that they will have less information and less access to U.S. troops than ever before. Even the use of deliberate disinformation cannot be ruled out." He continues by quoting President Bush. "Let me condition the press this way: Any sources and methods of intelligence will remain guarded in secret," Bush said.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were so calamitous that they threaten to shake us loose from our constitutional mooring. A civil liberties catastrophe looms as citizens surrender to fear, fury and frustration and as lawmakers throw money and shards of the Bill of Rights at the specter of terrorism.
The Federation of American Scientists sponsors this project, which works to challenge excessive government secrecy and to promote public oversight. They also publish an email newsletter, the Secrecy News, which provides informal coverage of new developments in secrecy, security and intelligence policies.
Vanessa Leggett, a college English teacher and freelance writer, is languishing in jail after she refused to turn her notes over to the FBI, which is investigating a murder case she is writing about. The FBI rejected her claims of being a journalist because she hasn't published yet. She insists that she is "sacrificing personal liberty" to maintain her "journalistic freedom." But should the FBI be deciding who is or isn't a journalist?
It has been two years since Congress suppressed an overview of the risks to people from chemical plant explosions. Dangerous chemical plants, they argued, were potential terrorist weapons, and if terrorists knew which ones were most dangerous, they would target them. Congress also ordered the Justice Department to produce a report by August 2000 on how to protect chemical plants from terrorists and make them less dangerous. A year after that deadline, the report is nowhere to be seen.
The Hill and Knowlton PR firm is receiving $500,000 from Hong Kong to persuade skittish Americans and U.S. policymakers that the city retains a "high degree of autonomy" under China's rule.
Portland, Oregon resident Susan Hager's daughter Morgan was one of three U.S. citizens hospitalized in Genoa as a result of unprovoked violence by Italian police against protesters at the Group of 8 summit meeting. In the early hours of July 22, 92 young people were dragged from their beds by squads of Italian anti-riot police officers who kicked them, pummeled them with clubs and threw them down stairs. Emergency room doctors said a number of the injured would have died without treatment.
In a case with implications for investigative journalism in the Internet age, a Canadian mining company has successfully used British libel law to shut down part of a U.S.-based Web site.
Did General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who signs the checks for the folks at NBC News, ask NBC chief Andrew Lack to call the presidential election in favor of George W. Bush well before the election was actually over? According to Representative Henry Waxman, Welch did pay a visit to the NBC control room that night last November, cheering whenever Bush was ahead and griping whenever Gore took the lead. At one point he asked a staffer, "What would I have to give you to call the race for Bush?" And he was ultimately the one who gave the order to actually do so.