"Look what John Ashcroft is doing to our Constitution," says a new American Civil Liberties Union ad. "He's seized powers for the Bush administration no president should ever have." The 30-second TV spot will air in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington D.C., and will be shown on the Sunday morning talk shows on ABC, CBS and NBC in selected cities. "The commercial kicks off a six-month, $1 million ad campaign that is part of a broader $3.5 million effort the ACLU has planned over the next 18 months," Advertising Age reports.
During recent protests in Washington against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, police deliberately used mass arrests to round up protesters who had committed no crime, writes law professor Jonathan Turley. "All the students were arrested while trying to comply with the law," he writes. "The D.C. and National Park Service police had used the same technique in each instance: Surround the crowd. Tell its members to disperse or face arrest. And then, as people try to disperse, block their escape with rows of officers in riot gear and arrest them. ...
"Qorvis Communications is helping Saudi Arabia handle fallout from charges that American children born of mixed U.S./Saudi parents are being kidnapped to the Kingdom," reports O'Dwyer's PR Daily. Congressman Dan Burton, who recently held hearings on the issue, says there are "hundreds of such cases," and that the U.S. State Department hasn't done anything to pressure Saudi Arabia to return the American children held there against their will. U.S.
"The Lebanese government is prosecuting the news director of a major television station," reports MSNBC, "setting the stage for a broader crackdown on press freedoms in a country once admired as the only bastion of free press remaining in the Arab world. ... Rumors are the true currency of political discussion on the streets and in the cafes of the Arab world, where media outlets are either owned by the government or privately owned by political leaders and under the constant threat of sanction and closure."
"A federal 'No Fly' list, intended to keep terrorists from boarding planes, is snaring peace activists at San Francisco International and other U. S. airports, triggering complaints that civil liberties are being trampled," reports Alan Gathright. Activists who have been stopped and searched at airports worry that the FBI may be reactivating its old anti-war activists file.
For an interesting example of propaganda during wartime, check out "A Challenge to Democracy," a 1944 documentary produced by the U.S. government about the massive internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II. "This weird film -- the U.S. government's view of life inside its World War II Japanese-American internment camps -- is an early exercise in political damage control," writes reviewer Ken Smith. "One of its more enjoyable aspects is its baldfaced use of pleasant-sounding euphemisms to recast the nasty things it shows us. ...
The American Journalism Review reports that openness in government is under assault throughout the United States, along with journalistic freedom. "Fear can short-circuit freedom," observes Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Each year his organization conducts an annual survey of Americans' attitudes toward the First Amendment. Thanks to 9/11, the results are disturbing.
Reporters Without Borders, a group that advocates for greater press freedoms, has issued a report warning that security abuses by the world's governments in the year since September 11 have increasingly put the Internet under the control of government security forces.
"For many citizens, the notion of an American 'secret court' would appear a striking contradiction in terms," writes law professor Jonathan Turley.