Friday, July 14, 2006

Tiahrt favors jailing journalists

What would it be like to live in a country where you can be thrown in jail for what you print in a newspaper? That would be Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s idea of democracy here in the U.S. Just consider what Tiahrt said in a reply to a Wichita Eagle editorial, which was printed on July 9:

“Jailing media leakers is not 'authoritarian'
The Eagle editorial board apparently believes we should err on the side of trusting the media rather than trusting the government to protect us from terrorists ("Reckless: Free societies need independent media," July 5 editorial). The editorial board also contends we do not know if leaks of classified information have harmed U.S. efforts in the global war on terrorism.
As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am probably in a better position than the editorial board to draw conclusions on this matter. However, I believe most clear-thinking individuals would presume that if you tell the enemy how we are tracking them, that indeed harms our ability to track them.
The editorial board also said that my call for locking up journalists who refuse to finger leakers is "authoritarian." If enforcing current law and protecting the citizens of this country is how the board defines "authoritarian," it needs a new dictionary.”

NOT AUTHORITARIAN? When I was in grade school the constantly told us of countries were people were jailed for speaking out against the government. Now Tiahrt want to do that here. That’s not only “authoritarian” it totalitarian. Dictators have always made the excuse that they were suspending rights in order to “save democracy.” But journalists were jailed and political parties and elections often suspended, often with political party officials jailed.
The Wichita Eagle has been flooded with letters protesting his comments. People know when their rights are being threatened.
Once again, Tiahrt simply ignores history. He also puts words into other people’s mouth. The Wichita Eagle had to print the following comments at the end of Tiahrt’s reply:

“Editor's note: Contrary to Rep. Todd Tiahrt's claim, The Eagle editorial board didn't question the length of the war or call for a timetable for ending it. The editorial board also has not supported gay marriage, desecrating the flag or surrendering the war on terror.
Tiahrt is free to disagree with the editorial board about whether journalists should be jailed for not revealing confidential sources. But making phony claims undermines his arguments.
--Phillip Brownlee”

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