The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.
George Mason (1725 - 1792), U.S. statesman
B2 made mention of the jailing of a reporter below, but this is truly a crime on our rights to have a free country, I have to add my two cents. This is a very important and frightening story. It is a shame and a travesty that Judith Miller, an investigative reporter for the New York Times, who did not write a story should be sentenced to jail for not revealing her source. She has committed no crime -- NONE. (please read the NYTimes' editorial on the matter)
Miller told the judge, "If journalists cannot be trusted to guarantee confidentiality, then journalists cannot function and there cannot be a free press."
Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart explained in a 1974 speech, the primary purpose of the First Amendment was to create a fourth institution outside the government as an additional check on the three official branches (the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary).
For an innocent reporter to face jail time is as highly un-American as torturing prisoners and holding no one in power responsible for such a crime. It’s time to wake up and realize that our freedoms are not disappearing slowly, but rapidly.
An extremely dangerous precedent has occurred. Let’s just extrapolate this a bit further: does this now mean that one can be jailed because someone might have told you something and you might know something?
The myth of an unfair press promulgated by the Republicans under then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, only serves to empower conservatives to control the debate. Now the dire warnings of corporate conglomerations such as Time-Warner caving under shareholder pressure to give up a reporter’s notes or Disney not distributing Fahrenheit 9/11 because its CEO did not agree with the politics of the movie are trampling on everyone’s rights Republican, Democrat or independent.
As Hendrik Hertzberg in his book “Politics, Observations & Arguments” writes:
A free and critical press may sometimes be a tactical disadvantage for a society. But surely it is a huge advantage strategically, because it enables a society to apprehend and correct its own defects.
Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation’s heart, the excision of its memory.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist