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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thomas Jefferson still a voice for free speech

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has announced its 2007 Jefferson Muzzle Awards, citing some of the more egregious or ridiculous affronts to free expression over the past year. The Center is dedicated to upholding the First Amendment to the US Constitution: Congress shall make no law......abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press".

The 16 recipients are listed here and the details of why they were selected here, with not the slightest hint of political correctness. There are some real humdingers that are worth a look.

Three awards relevant to our interests are:

The Bush Administration "for its unprecedented efforts of discouraging, changing and sometimes censoring the reports and studies of government scientists in order to make them more supportive of political policies". There is plenty of chapter and verse provided to support this award.

The US Department of Defense "for launching and sustaining a program, ostensibly aimed at counter-terrorists, that gathered and stored extensive information about lawful anti-war demonstrators and other citizen groups that posed no national security threat". The basis of this award are documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act.

US Representative Peter King (Republican New York) "for calling upon the Justice Department to seek criminal sanctions against a newspaper and its staff for disclosing publicly the existence and extent of covert, warrantless surveillance by the National Security Administration". This award partly relates to criticism of the New York Times for publicising the fact that the SWIFT international banking cooperative messaging service was providing information to US authorities.

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