July 14, 2005
GLOBAL MEDIA DECRY 'PRESSURE ON U.S. PRESS'
** Global outlets support Judith Miller's 'admirable' stance to protect her source.
** Critics see a test of wills between the courts and the media.
** Editorialists say Miller's arrest is a 'brutal showdown' on press freedom.
** Writers assert that, as a press freedom role model, case will have ramifications elsewhere.
'Joan of Arc' and 'modern day heroine'-- The global press applauded Miller's decision to uphold the "first amendment" and not reveal her sources, leading to her being taken away in "handcuffs and fetters." The Czech Republic's center-right Lidove noviny asserted that "Miller shows that American journalism is...based on ideals and inner dignity." Norway's newspaper-of-record Aftenposten believed that "Miller deserves respect for her stance." Japan's liberal Asahi hailed "this journalist for upholding the moral obligations of her profession." And, Mexico's independent Reforma declared Miller is a "prisoner of conscience."
'U.S. courts have sent a chilling message'-- Editorialists opined that the U.S.' "politicized judiciary" negatively affects the "no longer that free" press. India's right-of-center Pioneer declared that "modern democracies are expected to defend the liberty of the individual so that it is not circumvented by the state." Italy's centrist Corriere della Sera criticized the "increasingly restrictive judiciary attitude towards journalists' freedom to keep their sources secret" with "extreme consequences: jail and a division among the media." Costa Rica's conservative La Republica insisted that "no judge...should have the power to incarcerate people for...not revealing their sources."
'U.S. freedom of press facing serious test'-- Several analysts described Miller's jailing as an attack on "the heart of a system." Indian journalists maintained that "the world's superpower...does not have the strength to deal with a free media" and Miller's imprisonment violates the principle of "a free press...deemed sacred in America." The events leading to Miller's arrest are "a telling comment on the disregard of the government for a free press," it added. Argentina's daily-of-record La Nacion labeled the Miller case "a crucial test" for freedom of the press in the U.S.
'Land of the Free'?-- Critics denounced the U.S. courts for not defending "news freedom over national security." Zagreb's government-owned Vjesnik claimed it "sent a negative signal" to "countries of still unconsolidated democracy, such as Croatia." Latin commentators remarked that this U.S. action "seems like it could only occur in underdeveloped countries, without strong democratic traditions" and "if there is no free press...the 'land of the free' becomes a big lie." Taiwan's pro-independence Taiwan News emphasized the importance of its press in fulfilling "democratic and social roles" without hindering freedom or national security to help "determine the maturity of Taiwan's democracy." Several editorials cited the importance of this case in relation to the development of a free press in healthy modern-day democracies.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Susan Emerson
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 30 reports from 17 countries over 2 - 13 July, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
GERMANY: "Those Who Blow The Whistle, Will Be Punished"
Stefan Kornelius stated in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (7/2): "Following the politicizationation of the judiciary and the deprivation of power of the legislature for the benefit of the president, the next target in the United States is the press. The freedom of the press, guaranteed in the Constitution, is no longer that free.... The story of Judith Miller is typical of a confusing...love-hate relationship between the media and politics.... It is characteristic of the decline of a sector, which did not know after 9/11 whether it should succumb to its patriotic duty or whether it should cultivate a critical distance from the powers-that-be.... During the Bush presidency, a feeling of contempt for the media has developed in Washington. This mood is not really fought by the media because the quality of U.S. journalism has really suffered over the past years and the level of reporting has--with a few laudable exceptions--declined to a lamentable level. Miller's case is also evidence of a lack of control over a politicized judiciary. The unmasking of an agent did not cause real damage, but in the permanent climate of fear in Washington, a case of treason is construed as if the country is taken over by another country. To the same extent that civil rights have been limited during these terror times, it is now the media which have to subordinate to the alleged benefit of the country. The Bush administration does not like traitors from its own ranks who leak information to the newspapers. The message is: Those who blow the whistle, will be unmasked and punished.... All these are bad signals. America's internal liberality has suffered greatly. The case stands for the climate of fear and control that has existed since 9/11. Judith Miller should go to prison, since she would then protect the freedom of the press."
ITALY: "She Does Not Reveal Her Source: NYT Reporter In Jail"
Massimo Gaggi reported in centrist Corriere della Sera (7/7): "Yesterday, it was a dramatic day for the American press.... The increasingly restrictive judiciary attitude towards the journalists’ freedom to keep their sources secret...which began after 9/11 and became stronger after a sentence issued by judge Richard Posner, has now reached its extreme consequences: jail and a division among media.... Indeed,...this process was also favored by the fact that journalists have been losing credibility among an increasingly disenchanted and critical public opinion... 49 states have passed legislation protecting journalists’ rights, but there is no federal regulation that armors’ their sources. However, this is the most precious asset for investigative journalists."
"The Journalist From The CIA-Gate Goes To Prison"
Marco Valsania wrote in leading business Il Sole 24 Ore (7/7): "Miller has become one of the highest-level victims of the polemics surrounding the interpretation of the first amendment."
"NYT Journalist Defends Her Source And Goes To Jail"
Giuseppe D’Avanzo commented on the front-page of left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (7/7): "Judith Miller from the New York Times is in jail while Matthew Cooper from Time avoids it. He was involved in the same case and accepted to testify about his sources.... For whom did Miller and Cooper work for by revealing the identity of Valery Plame? Did they work for those who rule or those who are ruled? Indeed, everyone can realize that the revelations were not useful for those who are ruled to make an opinion (were there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?), but they were instruments for the rulers to deform reality."
"Niger-Gate Does Not Reveal Her Source, The NYT Journalist Is In Jail"
Carlo Bonini commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (7/7): "If it is true what Cooper said yesterday that ‘in those notes there is already the name of the source ‘ it is not difficult to bet that, from tomorrow, in Washington, the ‘Plame case’ will become the ‘Rove case’ and this story will leave the newsrooms and go back where it started...in the heart of the White House."
"U.S.A.: She Does Not Unveil Her Source, A Reporter Is Condemned"
Paolo Mastrolilli stated in centrist, influential La Stampa (7/7): “Journalists can even go to jail to protect their sources. This is what happens in the U.S. .…The incredible Miller case is a mix of politics, power, war and spy story, as in the movies, but unfortunately for America this is a reality show."
CROATIA: "Judith Miller’s Civil Disobedience"
Tihomir Ponos commented in government-owned Vjesnik (7/9): "And finally, it is potentially about a conflict of two interests: the right of the public to know and be informed, which establishes one of the most important control mechanisms of every government, without which democratically founded government cannot function and stops being democratic, and the interests of the authorities to look after national interests, under whose auspices one can squeeze (and frequently does so) the interests of those in power. What is especially worrisome in the case of Judith Miller is the fact that it happened in the U.S. It’s a negative signal to all authorities in countries of still unconsolidated democracy, such as Croatia."
"Journalistic Joan of Arc"
Kresimir Fijacko commented in Zagreb-based Government-owned Vjesnik (7/8): "Of course, nobody is perfect, but just imagine how Washington would react if something like this were to happen in Asia, Europe, or God forbid, in Croatia. It will be a little more complicated for President Bush to lecture on media freedoms to Russia, for example, or China, in other words to those who could use such lectures, because now this questionable lecture has been provided to those (U.S. journalists) who did not need it...."
"Tudjman Was Better Than U.S. 'Brutal Showdown' With Reporter"
Jasmin Klaric opined in Rijeka-based Novi list (7/8): "That is the main purpose of this brutal showdown with the free press, in a country that took exceptional pride in this freedom. [Namely], to show that nobody is safe if he provides information to the public which those in power would rather keep to themselves, to silence ‘deep throats’ (if only Nixon could have thought of this!) and scare journalists. The Bush team is pressing the ‘off’ button on the electricity supply for all democratic institutions in the country. And, once they burn their 'Reichstag,’ nobody will be able to stop the cowboys."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Reporter In Handcuffs"
Milos Cermak asserted in center-right daily Lidove noviny (7/8): "There are varying opinions on whether American reporter Judith Miller did a good thing by not revealing her source of information and instead decided to go to prison. It is difficult to understand the complexity of American law and traditions of American journalism. But handcuffs and fetters in which a fifty-seven-year old reporter was taken to jail are a visible symbol for everyone to see. The determination to withstand such a situation on principles--whatever their rightness--is admirable. The position of Judith Miller shows that American journalism is a profession based on ideals and inner dignity. If only we could say the same about the Czech media."
NORWAY: "A Disgrace"
The newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (7/10): "New York Times journalist Judith Miller is in jail because she refuses to reveal the source that disclosed the name of a CIA agent to her. Miller never reported on the subject, and the first to publish CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name was the extremely Bush-friendly columnist Robert Novak. He has not had to appear in court, and another journalist working on the same story, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, did not have to go to jail after he agreed to reveal his source. To American journalism, this case represents a series of defeats. Both because a serious journalist in a respected magazine has let himself be threatened into revealing his sources, and because the incarceration of Judith Miller has demonstrated how weak the system of protection of sources is in the United States when powerful interests are at stake. Judith Miller deserves respect for her stance. And her speech in her own defense is something all journalists can stand by: ‘If journalists cannot guarantee confidentiality, journalists cannot function. Then, the free press can also not exist’" The Miller case is a disgrace that undermines one of the most significant journalistic disciplines: Documentation, investigation–and revelation.”
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Jailing American Journalist Is Unjust"
National conservative Australian editorialized (7/8): "In democracies and dictatorships alike, governing is always easier when official errors and excesses are hidden from ordinary people. ...it is why Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times, is in jail for refusing to identify her source of information on the identity of a CIA agent, even though she never published the story.... This is not only unreasonable but an assault on a fundamental principle. Information is the oxygen of freedom. If public servants cannot trust journalists not to betray them they will stay silent, making it easier for governments to cover-up everything and anything they prefer citizens not knowing.... While there will always be national security and public safety exceptions, journalists who do not protect their sources fail to meet their own obligations to the community."
TAIWAN: "U.S. Freedom Of Press Is Facing Serious Test"
Centrist China Times editorialized (7/12): "The imprisonment of Judith Miller is a red light for the United States' freedom of the press and a severe test for the press. At this critical moment, the press should insist on the tradition of telling the facts and safeguarding the fourth estate. Thus, constitutional democracy will not be eroded and the people's right to know will not be distorted."
"News Freedom Needs Protection"
Pro-independence Taiwan News editorialized (7/11): "[President] Chen said he holds the deep conviction that 'we would rather overdo protection of news freedom instead of not doing enough. ...should freedom of the press ever be in conflict with national security, he 'would rather sacrifice national security in the interest of defending the complete freedom of the press.' ...To counteract the degeneration of the news media from a "fourth estate" to monitor and balance the power of the great into a mouthpiece for commercial or official "adeditorial" instead of independent and professional news coverage and editorial content, we support the expansion of space for independently and professionally managed public broadcast and print media. How the media can fulfill its democratic and social roles without impinging on the freedom, or legitimate rights of other citizens, or sabotaging national security, and how our society can protect the ability of the media to resist commercial control and uphold professional and ethical autonomy will determine the maturity of Taiwan's democracy."
"Chen Vows To Defend News Freedom Over National Security"
Pro-independence Taiwan News stated (7/9): "President Chen Shui-bian yesterday declared that he was willing to defend '100 percent news freedom' even if it was necessary to 'sacrifice national security' and chided the United States for failing to fulfill its constitutional commitment to uphold the freedom of the press. Chen stated that without the news media exercising its proper function as a 'fourth estate' by fulfilling its responsibility to monitor government policy and the implementation of all types of reforms, 'Taiwan's democracy would absolutely not have been able to develop in step with the world's 'democratic community' in such a short time.' ...news freedom in the Asian region faces severe challenges, both in Taiwan and in many other countries, ...he 'solemnly urges that news freedom should not only be respected but we should also proceed to take concrete actions such as legislative protection and international cooperation to bolster guarantees of news freedom.'"
JAPAN: "U.S. Reporter Jailed: Freedom Of The Press Is Under Question"
An editorial in liberal Asahi stated (7/8): "We hail this journalist for upholding the moral obligations of her profession, and we salute the newspaper that supports her. We remain unconvinced that her incarceration was justifiable."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "No Free Tax In U.S."
The right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (7/12): "The First Amendment to the American Constitution,... cited as an example of how modern democracies are expected to defend the liberty of the individual so that it is not circumvented by the state...has been abridged by the U.S. judiciary which has sent Ms Judith Miller, a reporter with the New York Times, to jail for not disclosing the identity of a government source....By sending her to jail, he [the judge] has...exposed the "land of the free" to international ridicule. The world's sole superpower, it would seem, does not have the strength to deal with a free media."
Centrist The Times of India editorialized (7/9): "The sentencing of New York Times journalist, Judith Miller, strikes at the heart of freedom of the press in the United States. Miller has begun a four-month prison term for refusing to reveal one of her confidential sources for a story. The events leading to Miller's arrest are a telling comment on the disregard of the Bush government for a free press.... By handing down a prison term to Miller, the U.S. courts have sent a chilling message. Confidentiality of sources is one of the major weapons of a journalist. If that is not protected, people with critical information won't speak out against injustice or wrongs. By refusing to reveal their anonymous source, Miller and the NYT have made a strong statement against the U.S. government's attempts to gag the press.... This is a dangerous trend that undermines not only the freedom of the press but also the founding values of any democracy. The importance of a free press was recognized by James Madison, one of the architects of the U.S. Constitution, who wrote that among the principles deemed sacred in America, 'there is no one of which the importance is more deeply impressed on the public mind than the liberty of the press'. Miller's imprisonment violates that principle."
ARGENTINA: "U.S.: Journalist To Jail For Not Revealing Her Source"
Alberto Armendariz, wrote in daily-of-record La Nacion (7/7): "In a case that is considered a 'crucial test' for freedom of the press in the U.S., a federal judge from Washington yesterday ordered the immediate arrest of journalist Judith Miller, from the New York Times, for refusing to reveal her sources to a jury investigating which government official leaked the name of a CIA secret agent. Instead, the other journalist involved in the investigation, Mathew Cooper, from Time magazine, was released after announcing he would cooperate with the jury given that, and according to his dramatic presentation, his source had authorized him to disclose his identity to Justice. Unless she changes her position, Miller – a prestigious, 57 year-old investigative reporter – will have to be behind bars until October, when the investigation conducted by special attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ends...."
MEXICO: "The Miller Case"
Ramon Cota Meza wrote in nationalist El Universal (7/12): "The imprisonment of Judith Miller, star reporter for the New York Times, has caused a lot of protests in defense of the first amendment and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources in the U.S.… The core of the problem, however, is that the leaking of the identity of Valerie Plame was made by officials who supposedly are loyal to U.S. security agencies.... With regards to Iraq, the U.S. and Great Britain are unable to deal with developments in that country. They would like to leave, but they can’t because it would be a sign of irresponsibility and humiliation. Further, if they left, Iraq would fall into a civil war, and the conflict would expand to other nations and put the oil supplies to the West in jeopardy. The most civilized way to solve the situation would be to impeach (President) Bush because he is fully responsible for it. This is why it is of utmost importance to know who in the White House leaked the information to the media."
"Prisoner Of Conscience"
Sergio Sarmiento asserted in independent Reforma (7/8): “The U.S. is supposed to be a nation of freedoms. However, Judith Miller, a reporter from the New York Times has been sent to jail for refusing to reveal her sources. Judge Thomas F. Hogan is placing the U.S. side by side with the dictatorships that reject freedom of expression. Judith Miller is a prisoner of conscience. The whole world should demand her release.”
COSTA RICA: "Judith Miller, Assault On Journalism"
Conservative La Republica editorialized (7/6): “No judge or tribunal should have the power to incarcerate people for being loyal and responsible, much less for not revealing their sources. The truth is that much of the information that citizens obtain from all parts of the world are gathered from anonymous sources. The idea of using this type of punishment in the hope of soliciting a confession is to use the most deplorable and detestable methods in history. New York Times director, Bill Keller, said that is 'a draconian act of punishment for an honorable reporter.' In the U.S., in Costa Rica and wherever necessary, it is important to guarantee the rights of journalists along with their confidential sources."
GUATEMALA: "Revealing Sources"
Guatemalan influential, El Periódico published an editorial (7/12): “The functionary or public employee that orders, obligates or tries to obligate a form of social communication or news reporter to reveal his/her sources of information or professional secret, will be sent to jail from one to six years [omitted Guatemalan proposition for reform to the Criminal Law presented by the Presidential Commission for Transparency and against Corruption].”
"Judith Miller, A Modern Day Heroine"
Mario Antonio Sandoval commented in moderate Prensa Libre (7/11): "Judith Miller has become proof of how serious the threat is toward the press in the United States; a truth that every day has greater evidence to prove it. It's proved by watching how the press is accused of placing itself above the law, not being patriotic, being biased, and furthermore the existence, without a doubt, of infiltrated reporters or at least those convinced that journalism as it is being exercised nowadays is detrimental to society. The press isn't perfect due to human interaction in it. It shouldn't be exempt from criticism or self-control. But the press can't serve the people if its hands are tied, or if there are reasons for the press to be afraid. Judith Miller started a battle of an uncertain outcome, but it must be fought."
NICARAGUA: "Land Of The Free?"
Bayardo Altamirano López, dean of the Commercial Sciences University, opined in leftist El Nuevo Diario (7/11): "In their national anthem the U.S. proclaims itself the 'land of the free, and the home of the brave'. One of the basic rights of a journalist is to protect its sources. This is the basis for a free press. There is a great distance from what is said to what actually happens, though. Judith Miller, a journalist for the New York Times, was sentenced to jail by a judge because she did not want to reveal her sources regarding the identity of a CIA spy, something that is illegal. But she and a colleague from Time invoked the First Amendment of the Constitution which deals with freedom of expression. ...They turn to the justice system because they can't just take journalists to Guantanamo and torture the truth out of them. The journalist will remain incarcerated until she reveals her sources. '...If there is no respect towards the journalists keeping their sources confidential, then they cannot work. If there is no free press then the land of the free becomes a big lie.'"
PARAGUAY: "Succession In The Supreme Court"
Business-oriented La Nacion commented (7/3): "The [Judith Miller] decision of the Supreme Court strongly threatens the peoples’ ability to control the government by closing the avenues through which government employees who may have knowledge of irregularities can get the support of the public in order to intervene… The nominations that Bush will make [to the Supreme Court] will mark the destiny of liberty and democracy in the world for the next 20 years."
"Spine-Chilling Pressure On The Press In The United States"
Left-of-center Ultima Hora noted (7/3): "What has happened in the United States seems like it could only occur in underdeveloped countries, without strong democratic traditions.... But in the United States, whose citizens were so proud of their liberties?!"
VENEZUELA: "Judith Miller"
Pro-government Diario VEA (7/12) editorialized: "A journalist from the New York Times, Judith Miller, was sent to jail last Wednesday July 6th, ordered by a judge from Washington because she refused to reveal her information sources. The country that complains the most about press freedom in Venezuela sends its journalist to its dungeons. The Bush administration, which unleashed a furious campaign of official statements on Chávez’ ‘threats’ against the Venezuelan media, cannot tolerate the fact that a journalist keeps the identity of her sources, a sacred moral principle in the exercise of the profession. Where is the Inter American Press Association? Where is Vivanco, that repugnant individual paid by the State Department and Súmate? The harassment against journalists in the United States is not out of the context of elimination of the democratic freedoms that is taking place in that country under the domination of the neo-fascist and fanatical right headed by George Bush. The so-called ‘Patriotic Act,’ passed by the conservative majority in Washington, has served to persecute and jail militants from workers’ organizations. The prisoners in Guantánamo, deprived from the most basic human rights, are a slap on the face of humankind. Throughout the United States there is an atmosphere of terror provoked by those who present themselves as the ‘champions of Human Rights.’"
Liberal El Nacional editorialized (7/7): "As expected, New York Times journalist, Judith Miller, was sent to jail in Washington yesterday by Judge Thomas Hogan, who refused to reveal her anonymous sources. This fact is a real cataclysm for the world’s journalists, not only because it significantly reduces the availability of the confidential sources (who are of basic use for reporters) but also because it puts one of the most beautiful modern freedoms, freedom of the press, under the control of a judge's sectarian and individual (therefore arrogant) decision. Judge Thomas Hogan, who hears the case and hopes to receive a doubtful glory for that, said very pleased that the time had come to ‘sanction journalists.’ But it is not about a person or two, it is the heart of a system of work which is being affected. In fact, anarchy will come when society’s information channels are closed by such sectarian and arrogant judges like Hogan. Judith Miller...told the judge the following words: ‘If journalists cannot be trusted so that they guarantee the confidentiality of their sources, then journalists won’t be able to work. No free press can exist.’ Did you get that, Hogan?"
"Press Freedom In The United States Is In Danger"
Sergio Muñoz Bata commented in liberal El Nacional (7/7): "Never, over the last 30 years, had the secret about the activities of the Administration reached the current levels and that is something that should make American citizens worry because the information is only kept secret to hide abuses, complicity and the errors of the administration. The problem for society is that without promising confidentiality to the sources embedded in the administration, like the case of Deep Throat in 1972, journalists can do little to fulfill one of the most honorable duties which is to bring the abuses of those in power to public light."
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