Freedom of the Press in Liberated Iraq

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U.S. soliders shut down an Iraqi opposition newspaper. The ban, from the office of Iraqi strongman Paul Bremer, is supposed to last 60 days.

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  1. Thoreau

    I rushed to this hoping to challenge you to do a capsule entry on the stereo-typed faux outrage at an occupation government closing a rumour-peddling incindiary rag…but I was too late.

    I can see this was has you terribly upset, and that after acknowledging that Bremer probably made the most reasonable decision under the circumstances (about 5 to 10 more exchanges) you will launch into a sputtering “…but if we hadn’t been there in the FIRST place…” speech.

    Have fun.

  2. So historical oppression justifies current oppression?
    How about the propoganda value: “Those Americans are hypocritical in their support of free speech.”

  3. “Muqtada al-Sadr is a very bad man, and I can understand the concern about letting him grind out propaganda, but if more speech is the solution to bad speech in America, shouldn’t it be the same in Liberationstan?”

    “…but if more speech is the solution to bad speech in America,…”

    It is *a* solution. It may even be the *best* solution. But it’s certainly not *the* (only) solution.

    There are restrictions galore on speech even in America (e.g., find a tobacco ad on TV). And we’re not even talking about speech that involves a person advocating killing other people.

  4. Western-style democracies have more freedom of the press than anywhere else on earth-

    and EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM criminalizes incitement to violence.

  5. Andrew,

    Can you tell us where thoreau made such a statement? Point out the discussion thread that is.

    Mark Bahner,

    Actually, “prior restraint” (which is what this is) is universally forbidden in the US; indeed, the only time the issue was even close was during the “Pentagon Papers” case, and even there it lost. Ergo, you are arguing the wrong legal doctrines.

  6. Sir Real,

    Which is fine; but this is an issue of a “prior restraint,” not someone being hailed into court on a criminal proceeding. Again, get your legal doctrines in order.

    Sam,

    Sycophants like Andrew will defend every measure taken in Iraq (and everything else Bush does); you should simply get used to it.

  7. Thoreau

    Don’t neglect to anticipate how Ruthless and the other Anarchos will be by to offer the subtle point that if there were no government, there couldn’t be any censorship…it’s THAT simple!

  8. Quote: On Feb. 26, an article in Al-Hawza claimed that a suicide bombing two weeks earlier that targeted the mostly Shiite town of Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad, was a rocket “fired by an (American) Apache helicopter and not a car bomb.” The attack killed 53 people.

    ——

    Interesting … so the statement being made here is that printing misinformation is a willfull attempt to incite violence against the occupation? Do we not follow that logic, then, and say that American media, and those that it quotes, are equally as guilty?

    What would the American response have been had these misstatements been limited to wrongful accusations of AQ/Iraq connections that led to anti-Sunni or anti-Baath violence?

    The problem is not that propaganda is being spewed forth — the problem is simply the subject.

  9. Thoreau-
    You need to accept the fact that America is never, ever wrong.

    Here’s a hypothetical situation: say you’re giving your wife a backrub, and you notice a big, ugly spot of melanoma. Skin cancer, in other words; if left untreated your wife will die. You have two options:

    1. Tell your wife about the melanoma, because you love her and want her to fix whatever is wrong, or;

    2. Keep silent, because you love your wife too much to ever admit she is anything less than perfect.

    I used to think that option 1 was the best course of action for a loving spouse (or dedicated patriot), but all these reasonable fucks on the Reason postings have taught me that option 2 is always and forever the best course of action; anyone who chooses option 1 is either an abusive spouse or a goddamned traitor. As is anyone who agress with Jean Bart.

  10. Thoreau

    Your “point” being, that although there are in fact two sides in this discussion, and you will doubtless acknowledge– after a time– that one side (Bremer administering an occupied country has both the authority and responsibility to monitor the emergent press for a few months) is very possibly the correct one…

    …still, somehow you just “know” that one side of the question contains all the morons.

  11. Andrew,

    Would you please stop digressing into worthless psycho-babble? Or do I have to start calling you Deanna Troi?

  12. Don’t kid yourself. Anyone who doesn’t agree that this proves once and for all that the US is facsist is probably a fascist themselves.

    The US did the same thing to the Vietcong. This is Vietnam all over again. We need to take it to the streets! Damn the man! Kill the pigs!

  13. Don’t kid yourself. Anyone who doesn’t agree that this proves once and for all that the US is facsist is probably a fascist themselves.

    The US did the same thing to the Vietcong. This is Vietnam all over again. We need to take it to the streets! Damn the man! Kill the pigs!

  14. I bet ClearChannel is behind this. Damn corporate media!

  15. JB

    The very first post on this thread has been what by now is a fairly standard “Thoreau” entry to “anticipating” that everyone who takes up a certain side in the discussion (if there IS a discussion) has got to somehow be an unthinking lummox. You get to be insulted before you even express your point of view (Prior Restraint, I suppose).

    I hear an EU whistle-blower is going to be charged with something like “disrespect for the EU”. Want to discuss that? Or is this just some sort of anti-war chatroom, where the “right sort” scrub each other’s backs?

  16. “anyone who chooses option 1 is either an abusive spouse or a goddamned traitor”

    Of course not!!

    “As is anyone who agress with Jean Bart.”

    Well, maybe! πŸ™‚

  17. I hear an EU whistle-blower is going to be charged with something like “disrespect for the EU”. Want to discuss that?

    Since my government has no say in how the EU conducts itself, no.

  18. Tim

    The EU whistle-blower is making ACCURATE observations on deeply-rooted corruption and mismanagement in an instiution with an unlimited future touching about half of the free world…and stands to face personal consequences…at just the time when very consequential decisions are going to be made about the EU’s future…

    …but you think the story of a radical sheet being kept off the street for 60 days (while the POV associated with it is given amole expression– including a voices on the council I believe), by an authority that won’t exist a few months from now is of central importance, analytically?

  19. I hear an EU whistle-blower is going to be charged with something like “disrespect for the EU”. Want to discuss that?

    Sure. If what you say is accurate, it’s fucked and stupid and an immoral use of government coercion.

    But what does this have to do with shutting down the Iraqi newspaper?

  20. Fyodor-
    Don’t you get it? If anyone criticizes America, a proper patriot ignores the criticism and says “Oh yeah? Well, so-and-so is even worse!”

    If the subject is embarrassing, you change it. That’s SOOOOOO much easier than debate.

  21. Jennifer,
    Even better, a proper patriot will acknowledge that our government isn’t perfect, but, “its still the best damn government in the world.”

    When asked if they even own a passport, the “typical” patriot will tell you they are too damn exspensive or why the hell should I have one!

  22. I don’t know… This may or may not make me a fascist or god-knows-what-else, but in my humble opinion, Bremer’s actions in this situation do not seem at all unreasonable to me.

    It’s great to fight “bad” speech with “good” speech, but in this extremely special case where lives could very well be lost if the “bad” speech is allowed to continue… It just doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  23. Do any of you here think that if the militias in the northwest or the Black Panthers started shooting people and breaking things here in the US that our own government would not move to supress their public communications? That’s the difference. There is still a shooting war going on over there. The American press and the emerging Iraqi press are not the same, and can not play by the same rules. If the CPA thinks that this paper exists to recruit for the “resistance”, or spread its propaganda, then it has the responsibility to shut it down. Especially when you consider that doing so will save the lives of innocent people if it means bringing an earlier end to the violence. Yes, government is evil, but sometimes that evil is nescessary.

  24. OK

    For all the Clintonian lip-chewers out there, I will get you launched:

    “This is how it all began in Weimar Germany– first THEY came for the radical Sunni editor in the country under a temporary occupation regime, and we failed to blog our outrage (perhaps that is when the spiral of tyranny became irreversible)– THEN…”

    Pump up the Eternal Vigilance, guys! It is the Price of…well, you know the script.

  25. On another subject I’m sure libertarians can agree, isn’t it high time that the US allows the oil fields in Iraq to be privatized? Enough of this (puppet) state run bullshit.

  26. Andrew-

    Exactly! You are a Proper Patriot. Mention how much worse things could be, or better yet, use humorously exaggerated strawman arguments!

    Keep it up, and nobody will ever knock on YOUR door in the middle of the night!

    Remember, America: you have it a lot better than Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge, or Russians under Stalin, or women under Islamic theocracy, so SHUT UP AND STOP COMPLAINING!

  27. Geez, Darth, talk about your strawmen…

  28. Andrew-

    Well, my pre-emptive post seems to have had a multiplicative effect. You’ve already posted several responses arguing with me.

    From now on, instead of doing a predictive post (“I predict that somebody will say the following…”) I’ll just wait for it to happen and then say “I knew it.” Just so I can’t be accused of provoking it, or of making unfair accusations.

    Second, I’d much rather see radical viewpoints expressed in the open, where everybody knows who’s saying them, than have them expressed underground. I’d much rather have a situation where speech is greeted with gov’t indifference, because arresting somebody for speech (even noxious speech) simply makes people sympathetic to his claim that he’s fighting against an oppressive system.

    And I’d much rather use the tried-and-true axiom that the best remedy for bad speech is more speech. It’s worked in the US, I’m confident it will work elsewhere.

  29. Whew, get your boots out!
    The shit’s getting thick.

  30. btw, can we all agree that it’s unfair to go arresting guys who paint “Americans go home” on walls at the behest of the People’s Front of Mesopotamia? And even more inhumane to punish them for punishing those who get the spelling wrong?

    After all, the People’s Front of Mesopotamia poses no threat to us, since they’re far too busy fighting with the Mesopotamian People’s Front and the Popular People’s Front of Mesopotamia.

    Hey, just thought I’d inject a little silliness into this heated discussion. Always look on the bright side of life…

  31. Speaking of grammatical errors…

    And even more inhumane to punish them for punishing those who get the spelling wrong

    should be

    “And even more inhumane to punish those who get the spelling wrong”

  32. “Muqtada al-Sadr is a very bad man, and I can understand the concern about letting him grind out propaganda, but if more speech is the solution to bad speech in America, shouldn’t it be the same in Liberationstan?”

    Well, no. You see, in America we don’t have too many RPG fights.

    Imagine what would happen if we hadn’t done anything and their agitprop had resulted in more attacks. The whiny liberaltarians would say, “Why didn’t we do something?”

    That said, there was probably a smarter way to do this. But sometimes the dumb way is the only way to prevent a serious problem.

  33. Today’s Chicago Tribune has a front page (above the fold) photo of Iraqis burning the flag in protest of the newspaper being closed.

    It’s kind of an interesting, conflicting picture.

    One part of me wants to reinstall Saddam as the editor-in-chief of this paper, the other part just wants to give these dumbasses a good shake.

  34. That was a general comment.
    Nothing personal, t.

  35. Andrew,

    “The very first post on this thread has been what by now is a fairly standard ‘Thoreau’ entry to ‘anticipating’ that everyone who takes up a certain side in the discussion (if there IS a discussion) has got to somehow be an unthinking lummox.”

    So? That demonstrates neither of your assertions (nor is it an excuse for your psycho-babble).

    “I hear an EU whistle-blower is going to be charged with something like ‘disrespect for the EU.'”

    First demonstrate that the case actually exists. BTW, grow a backbone.

    “…deeply-rooted corruption and mismanagement in an instiution…”

    Oh no; government corruption; that is really just so unique to the E.U. Please, stop trying to make the E.U. into some special pariah.

  36. Andrew,

    You’ve slipped from psycho-babbler to troll; how typical.

  37. Andrew at 01:00 PM:

    “faux outrage at an occupation government closing a rumour-peddling incindiary rag”

    As if “rumor-peddling, incendiary” was just cause. This reminds me of the Sandanistas’ and Castro’s excuses for censorship. Which is why it’s not “faux” outrage that was expressed. Real outrage is indeed justified here. Shame on the government! Shame!

    Why must the government so often sully the good name of the American people?

  38. Deanna Troi?

    I had to google that one. If I was in to psycho-babble, I would diagnose you AND (24 Hours) Thoreau as suffering from crap-television.

    Corruption in the EU is surely a rich irony, inasmuch as Turkey and several other nations are pending admission until they can demonstrate a sufficient degree of “transparency” (not to say fiscal balance– conspicuously missing in both France and Germany).

  39. Sure Lonewacko, not many RPG fights here, but plenty of gun fights. I second Rick Barton. And now that we’ve opened the door to censorship in Iraq, what’s to keep the Iraqis from continuing it after we’ve left? And then, Democracy? What Democracy?

  40. Andrew’s right, Jean Bart. Any familiarity with the characters on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ pretty much proves that what you say is not to be taken seriously. As does saying anything against George Bush. Of course, as a snail-eating Frenchman you can’t be expected to do any better.

    I’m sensing a mood of disgusted sarcasm. . .as usual, I sense things which are incredibly obvious and don’t require any actual psychic powers, just an IQ in the three-digit range. . .

  41. Jean Bart-

    Sorry to take so long to get back to you, but I have to do work sometimes πŸ˜‰

    Re: Your point on prior restraint-

    Iraq has enough problems establishing a transparent, trustworthy judiciary right now. I agree that the newspaper editors should have the benefit of an open trial where they are allowed to defend their actions-

    However, we don’t inhabit that world at this moment. As commander of the Occupation, I don’t believe Bremer is at all beyond his authority in this sort of brute-force “restraining order”, especially given the situation American troops face at the moment. Because the occupation is technically under the Geneva Convention, Bremer does have laws, and as far as I know, closing this newspaper doens’t violate them.

    (Of course, if Bremer wanted to make a difference, he would be much more concerned about the underground press advocating violence against Sunnis, Shiites or Kurds, thus calling for civil war…)

  42. First, the name of the show is “24”, not “24 Hours”! πŸ™‚

    Second, there’s nothing crappy about it! I find it watch our hero thwart multi-tentacled terrorist conspiracies.

    Third, now that you and I have staked out our respective opinions on 24, what do you think of my argument above, which I will repost?

    I’d much rather see radical viewpoints expressed in the open, where everybody knows who’s saying them, than have them expressed underground. I’d much rather have a situation where speech is greeted with gov’t indifference, because arresting somebody for speech (even noxious speech) simply makes people sympathetic to his claim that he’s fighting against an oppressive system.

    And I’d much rather use the tried-and-true axiom that the best remedy for bad speech is more speech. It’s worked in the US, I’m confident it will work elsewhere.

  43. Andrew,

    “Deanna Troi?” Yes, you argue just like that prattling moron. Bad television or not, it is an accurate description of you (which is of course the real point of my statement – dodging again I see).

    “Corruption in the EU is surely a rich irony, inasmuch as Turkey and several other nations are pending admission until they can demonstrate a sufficient degree of ‘transparency’ (not to say fiscal balance — conspicuously missing in both France and Germany).”

    Fiscal balance is not required for entry into the EU (if you are going to comment on something, at least have the tact to actually know what you are talking about).

    As to corruption, again, the notion that the E.U. is somehow special in these matters is (a) hypocritical, and (b) (and this is course a neccessary corollary) a jaundiced opinion. And as has been noted above, the issue of the EU is not at stake here; so one must ask why are you avoiding and dodging the issue?

  44. thoreau,

    All you will get from Andrew is evasions and dissembling.

  45. Well, I guess I just had my libertarian creds pulled, because I, for the life of me, can not help but see the common sense behind shutting down a newspaper that is publishing propaganda for the bad guys in Iraq. And regardless of what you think about the Iraq war, the terrorists are the bad guys. Any movement that makes targets of civilians based on the fact they are civilians does not deserve support. It is evil, pure and simple. And when faced with an adversary bent on violence, the only way to face it is with violence. So no, in this case, the cure for “bad speech” is not “more speech”. That’s the pacifist way out, and it sounds great, but as a policy in this case is absolutely worthless. The only way to stop the murder of innocents by this “resistance” movement is to imprison its members or kill them. If using government power (and its implicit threat of violence) helps in that regard, then you do it. In the end, Iraqi civilians’ individual rights are better protected by making them safe from the “resistance” attacks than by making it safe for the terrorists to recruit and spread their lies.

  46. This is great. We’ve finally reached the critical stage in blogdom where the readers’ disagreements overshadow interesting debate on the subject matter.

    Thoreau’s initial comment, artfully postscripted with “Just had to get that out of the way before intelligent debate begins” had the effect of precluding any such thing. Not that Andrew et al are blameless.

    Quit staring at your fucking navels, folks, and debate the goddamn issue.

    To that end, I offer the following:

    This is a delicate situation–on one hand you have the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” argument for shutting the paper down. In the other corner, you have the “If we’re making Iraq into a western-style democracy, we should not contradict ourselves by violating the sacred freedom of speech.”

    Both are valid positions that must be considered. What do I think? We know what the paper published–a lie about the cause of an explosion. Is this simply a harmless case of conspiracy mongering (the U.S. is trying to deflect hatred from itself by manufacturing a nonexistent threat of suicide bombers)? Or was the paper printing this kind of item with the intent of incitement to anti-U.S. attacks?

    Unless the paper was directly advocating violence, I don’t see a justifiable reason for shutting it down. If what it published led to panic and violence, it’s a bit different, just as it would be in the U.S.

    What would the criteria be in the U.S. for shutting down such a publication? If it couldn’t be justified in the U.S. then it shouldn’t be in Iraq. Are the standards any different in the U.S. during times of civil disorder?

  47. Andrew,

    BTW, as long as the EU bureaucracy is beyond the control of an elected body as it is today, you will always have problems with corruption. Of course its moronic euro-skeptics like yourself who most hate that idea. BTW, though you try to imply that Frenchmen and Germans are at the heart of this problem, its Neil Kinnock that van Buitenen has howled about the most.

  48. But what does this have to do with shutting down the Iraqi newspaper?

    Newsflash: I do not in these United States have the right to publish newspapers exhorting my readers to kill the president, or anyone for that matter. I cannot take out an ad on television inciting viewers to assassinate their local resident aliens for a lack of devout following to “our Lord,” or whatever schmuck they kneel to. By doing so I would in effect be soliciting for murder, functionally no different from standing a street corner and asking for volunteers. Moreover, the paper in question was not functioning as “the press,” merely a body seeking to conscript military enemies of the occupying force using the written word.

    Please, stop trying to make the E.U. into some special pariah.

    JB, the EU is no more or less a “special pariah” than the U.S. – a largely influential body that alternately makes noise and mess everywhere it goes, like a St. Bernard with a sphincter problem. Given those governments’ proclivity to corruption, and those societies’ generally greater willingness to turn a blind eye thereto, it is as justly open to condemnation, vitriol, and accusation as the United States, from its complicity in the brouhaha in Iraq since the fall of the Ottoman Empire to the ETA/a.Q. bombing.

  49. Mike H.

    I had a room mate years ago named Mike Harris that was a sci-fi fanatic, and really loved the movie Silent Running. Kind of a weird coincidence…

    And that weird coincidence continues(just read some of your blog, silentrunning.tv)! You and my old room mate are nearly identical politically, right down to never having a bad thing to say about any republican, no matter how badly they are fucking up this country or others).

    Regards,

    Steve

    πŸ™‚

  50. Now I am sensing denial on the one hand and frustration on the other. . . .I am capable of sensing this because I am psychic but nobody else would ever ever get it. . . .I am sensing that Andrew’s beginning to think that helping the French in World War Two might have been a bad idea. . . .

  51. a body seeking to conscript military enemies of the occupying force using the written word.

    Hate to quote myself, but I’m also pretty sure the Geneva Conventions call that an illegal army.

  52. rst,

    Apparently it is a “special pariah” in Andrew’s eyes; which was of course my point.

  53. He’s an American; he seeks to shift blame to the EU, as Europeans want to shift blame to the Americans. It’s much easier to live with yourself when you can point to someone else as the source of all your problems. The mode of a constituent sample makes their value judgements in this manner.

    It’s the same old struggle…mostly ideological bullshit aimed at ultimately establishing one or the other as the Moral Referent. As if.

  54. “Sure Lonewacko, not many RPG fights here, but plenty of gun fights.”

    That may be why the U.S. is “fully loaded” with “prior restraints” on the right to keep and bear arms.

    “I second Rick Barton. And now that we’ve opened the door to censorship in Iraq, what’s to keep the Iraqis from continuing it after we’ve left?”

    We’ve “opened the door to censorship in Iraq”?! Ever hear of a man called Saddam Hussein???

    As for your question, there’s nothing to keep Iraqis from continuing or instituting much more censorship after they take over. In short, they *could* return to censorship as strict as under Saddam Hussein. Or censorship equal to the average Arab country (which would be far more strict than anything Paul Bremer has done).

  55. Jean Bart writes, “Actually, ‘prior restraint’ (which is what this is) is universally forbidden in the US;…”

    Actually, “prior restraint” is not “universally forbidden” in the U.S. It’s allowed under “exceptional circumstances.”

    From Findlaw.com:

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/09.html#f47

    Supreme Court Chief Judge Hughes in Near v. Minnesota ex rel. Olson, “The fact that the liberty of the press may be abused by miscreant purveyors of scandal does not make any the less necessary the immunity of the press from previous restraint in dealing with official misconduct. Subsequent punishment for such abuses as may exist is the appropriate remedy, consistent with constitutional privilege.”

    Findlaw goes on to comment:

    “The Court did not undertake to explore the kinds of restrictions to which the term ”prior restraint” would apply nor to do more than assert that only in ”exceptional circumstances” would prior restraint be permissible.”

    I can give at least one good example of an “exceptional circumstance”:

    1) A government (say, from country U.S.A.) has overthrown a brutal dictatorship, and plans to put a democracy in its place.

    2) Said government plans to turn over its control to a native elected government (say country I-raq) within a year. Therefore, the U.S.A. government will have no way to punish after the fact those whose words incite the murder of U.S.A. government’s troops.

    The “exceptional circumstance” is that the U.S. government that’s in place in Iraq is only temporary, and therefore there is no method for “subsequent punishment for such abuses as may exist” which Judge Hughes recommended as the best way to deal with abuses of free speech by the press.

    The press in Iraq is–without question–freer right now than in ANY OTHER ARAB COUNTRY…let alone compared to when Saddam Hussein was in power. Brian Doherty’s “…Iraqi strongman Paul Bremer…” is typical of Reason writers. They’re oh-so-clever with a turn of phrase, even if that gets in the way of honest reporting. And the interesting thing is, “Iraqi strongman Paul Bremer” would unquestionably allow Reason to publish such witty commentary in Iraq. Perhaps Reason writers ought to try writing such witticisms where REAL strongmen exist (e.g. Kim Jong Il, or the strongman formerly known as Saddam Hussein).

  56. People on this forum are always so good at digging up legal precedents to support the suppression of basic liberties. Perhaps they should help Congress draft legislation. If somebody should ever be bothered by the dubious Constitutional basis for the legislation, a poster from this forum could find some court ruling to support it.

  57. Mark Bahner,

    Hmm, my comments concerning the “Pentagon Papers” related that there may be an exception; so your criticism is unfounded. Besides, the “modern test” is to be found in the “Pentagon Papers” case (as I implied in my first statement).

    As to press freedom in Arab countries, what metric did you use to come to your conclusion with? How is the press freer in Iraq than say in the UAE or Qatar?

  58. Rick Barton writes, “As if “rumor-peddling, incendiary” was just cause. This reminds me of the Sandanistas’ and Castro’s excuses for censorship. Which is why it’s not “faux” outrage that was expressed. Real outrage is indeed justified here. Shame on the government! Shame!”

    This wasn’t just ANY “rumor,” Rick! The newspaper wrote that suicide bomb was really a missile shot by an Apache helicopter!

    “Why must the government so often sully the good name of the American people?”

    Perhaps, Rick, it’s because Paul Bremer feels he’s responsible for a little more than just the “good name of the American people!” Perhaps Mr. Bremer feels he’s responsible for minimizing the number of American troops shot by Iraqis acting on false information.

  59. Mark Bahner,

    BTW, you rather erroneously (and stupidly) assume that the U.S. constitution applies to Iraq amd Iraqis, when indeed it doesn’t. I only used the legal precedent as a means to describe what is really going on in Iraq – a prior restraint on the press.

  60. So many points…

    Thoreau

    If you wanted to sponsor an intellegent debate in the first place, then why did you launch with another tedious reprise of how those who characteristically disagree with your own (rather) predictable take on these matters are predictable, only because THEY fail to bring the same thoughtful detachment to the issue that would cause you to denounce an administer who temporarily closed a paper in a war-zone.

    That’s OK though…as long as we don’t have to hear about your wedding, or a synopsis of the latest “24”.

    JB

    I take it you have googled the EU story (or knew about it from go). I have been moving today and have taken my computer set-up apart, and put it back toether again.

    Good story, huh? Along with Oil-For-Food and the fact that Iraq DID pass a constitution that satisfies most of the concerns expressed by alarmists at least three times in anticipatory threads. Good stories, and Reason out to create threads on them…except they have to make room for Clarke’s mind-reading act.

    (…and, as I gazed into those teddy-bear eyes, I realised the President didn’t WANT the truth– so, what the hell, I lied.”)

    I notice that in at least a half a dozen posts so far, you have managed to avoid committing as to whether Bremer made the right decision or not. Perhaps because you are so busy monitiriing whether other posters address the issue or not.

    Rick

    The US has concluded a war and occupied a nation of 25 million, for more than a year, enduring 600 casualties in ongoing violence…and yet has so little to apologise for in terms of human rights abuses, and so much to be congratulated for, in termas of the latitude given to free expression, and the good-faith effort to sponsor representative government…

    that to respond with “Shame”…well, kinda leaves me speechless.

  61. Jean Bart writes, “Hmm, my comments concerning the “Pentagon Papers” related that there may be an exception; so your criticism is unfounded. Besides, the “modern test” is to be found in the “Pentagon Papers” case (as I implied in my first statement).”

    In case you had noticed, Mr. Bart, the issue is NOT a newspaper in the United States. So the “modern test” of the “Pentagon Papers” does not apply.

    This is a TEMPORARY U.S. military government, that will be handed over to an Iraqi government. After the U.S. military government hands over control to the Iraqi government, the U.S. military government will no longer have jurisdiction to try any Iraqi citizen for incitement to murder U.S. troops.

    Even the very best of parents send their children to their rooms for “time out” periods. This is a 60-day “time out” period for Muqtada al-Sadr’s libelous and dangerous (to U.S. troops…AND U.S. civilians) paper.

    You can moan and rant all you like about how this is some sort of big deal. But the simple fact of the matter is that your moaning and ranting is occurring primarily because YOU are not in Iraq, and YOU are not the target of people with guns, driven to anger by newspapers printing lies.

  62. Andrew,

    “I take it you have googled the EU story (or knew about it from go).”

    Given that he has been investigating these issues since 1999, you seem a little slow in gaining cognizance of the investigation.

    “Good story, huh?”

    Again, what does it have to do with the issue at hand? You try to be slippery; yet you are not.

    “Good stories, and Reason out to create threads on them…except they have to make room for Clarke’s mind-reading act.

    Which have absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    “I notice that in at least a half a dozen posts so far, you have managed to avoid committing as to whether Bremer made the right decision or not.”

    In order to avoid something one must be asked the question first. But I think that it is reasonably easy to imply my answer; thus your silly and dishonest attempt to paint that as avoidance is laughable.

  63. Mark Bahner,

    “In case you had noticed, Mr. Bart, the issue is NOT a newspaper in the United States. So the ‘modern test’ of the ‘Pentagon Papers’ does not apply.”

    You are the one who made the sin of arguing that the US constitution applied here, not I. Don’t foist your faults onto me. I merely stated that this was a prior restraint and gave examples of US jurisprudence on that issue.

  64. Andrew,

    “So many points…”

    And some day you might actually address one.

  65. Jean Bart-

    Stop wasting your time. You’re not going to win over the Andrews of the world through reason, any more than scientists manage to convince George Bush that evolution is real. Seriously now: when Andrew seriously implied that his ignorance of the Deanna Troi reference made him, by default, your intellectual superior, you must have realized deep in your logical French mind that this was a lost cause.

    A couple days ago I had a run-in with an Andrew clone who blamed by lack of Bush-love on female hormones. Something about the Bushies seems to inspire not only a lack of logic, but an outright hatred of it.

  66. No JB…I am not a mind-reader…so what is your position on Bremer’s decision– and as a matter of principle, whether a country experiencing turmoil under an occupation regime should enjoy the same latitude re freedom of the press as American citizens do (or even EUnachs).

  67. Jean Bart writes, “I merely stated that this was a prior restraint and gave examples of US jurisprudence on that issue.”

    The “U.S. jurisprudence” is irrelevant, as even you acknowledge. So your bringing up the “Pentagon Papers” was merely a journey into irrelevancy. I KNOW it is prior restraint.

    It’s reasonable prior restraint done in extraordinary circumstances. (Of course, it’s not reasonable to you, because your butt is safely outside of Iraq!)

  68. Jennifer,

    You are likely right; Andrew is an unthinking sycophant after all.

    Andrew,

    Principle is not a quality that you can muster.

  69. Holy Crap.

    I get home from work and find that my last-minute post on how you guys are letting personal differences trump legitimate debate, and what do I find? MORE NAVEL STARING.

    Try again.

  70. Mark Brehner,

    If you knew the US constitution doesn’t apply, I don’t see why you should go into your constitutional analysis; after all, whether it is or is not a prior restraint doesn’t particularly matter in this context. I merely discussed the notion to explain what was happening; I never applied it to the situation at hand as if US law on the matter had anything to do with Bremer’s actions. You are the one who went into the detailed analysis not I. That you are now furiously backpeddaling from that position is really not my concern.

  71. db,

    I am more than willing to address the issue; Andrew is not. He’d rather insult me and talk about the EU.

  72. As it has become increasingly obvious that Andrew is playing the self-important windbag today, I will say adieu.

  73. Jean Bart writes, “If you knew the US constitution doesn’t apply, I don’t see why you should go into your constitutional analysis;…”

    Because YOU brought up the Constitution, Jean! Don’t you read your own posts?!

    Tim Cavanaugh wrote that “the” solution to bad free speech was more free speech. I pointed out that that was not the ONLY solution.

    Then YOU wrote:

    “Actually, ‘prior restraint’ (which is what this is) is universally forbidden in the US; indeed, the only time the issue was even close was during the “Pentagon Papers” case, and even there it lost. Ergo, you are arguing the wrong legal doctrines.”

    So YOU made the remarks that prior restraint is is “universally forbidden in the US” and that, “the only time the issue was even close was during the ‘Pentagon Papers’ case” and that “even there it lost.”

    YOU are the one who journeyed into irrelevancy. It is completely IRRELEVANT whether prior restraint is “universally forbidden in the U.S.” (which it is NOT).

    The issue is IRAQ under the control of a temporary U.S. government, that will be handed over to Iraqis. And this prior restraint seems reasonable, given that extraordinary circumstance.

    But once again, it’s easy for you to argue otherwise from the comfort of YOUR position, far outside Iraq.

  74. OK, I thought I’d maybe try to pre-empt some of the predictable responses and get people to think “Hmm, maybe I can do a little better.” Instead I set a low standard, and everybody else followed my lead.

    I apologize. It is clear that when you set a low standard you merely encourage more of the same. I’ve cut down on the sarcasm before, and I’ll do so again.

  75. Well, people, it’s been a slice. Maybe when I come back hours from now, someone will have actually gotten back to the subject.

    Jennifer, since you’re looking to form new words, could the majority of this thread be considered “shitheadery”?

  76. “Maybe when I come back hours from now, someone will have actually gotten back to the subject.”

    The subject is what to do with a papers in Iraq that print: 1) positions that directly advocate killing people, or 2) falsehoods (e.g. that a suicide bomb was really a rocket fired by an Apache helicopter) that can incite people to commit murder.

    For the CPA (temporary U.S. government in Iraq) temporarily shutting down papers that do either #1 or #2 doesn’t seem unreasonable, given the circumstances.

  77. Mark Bahner,

    You are correct that whatever the Iraqi government does after we relinquish control is not directly affected by this decision and that Saddam Hussein practiced much worse censorship there previously. The point that misses however is that we are supposed to be leading Iraq to democracy and away from Hussein. If we react to civil disorder with censorship, it provides much better cover to a future Iraqi government to do the same, and then it will likely be indefinitely, until that government gets overthrown in a civil war, of course.

  78. For the CPA (temporary U.S. government in Iraq) temporarily shutting down papers that do either #1 or #2 doesn’t seem unreasonable, given the circumstances.

    Why do we have a certified public accountant running the government in Iraq anyway?

  79. So to perhaps salvage some merit out of the (dubious) editorial decision to run this thread– how about we make some distinctions here. The editor, and all of the staff of this paper are at liberty. So is the Imam they are associated with, their political party, and their street-following (who staged a demonstration of three thousand when the offices were closed, where the US troops were ordered to stand off, and the Iraqi police didn’t show at all). No one has been arrested, and no one obviously fears being arrested. No one associated with this journal has anything to fear .

    Really…does this remind you of Cuba. Come on Jennifer, does this sound like Tianaman Square?

    Or does it sound rather like the sort of war-time censorship (practiced, oddly enough, in a war zone) enforced in every democratic society during both world wars.

    Thoreau– unless you make an absolute fetish of civil liberties– under what circumstances would you allow for even the briefest and most benign application of censorship, which don’t pertain here?

    (You may use characters from 24 to describe your scenario.)

  80. Andrew-

    I don’t have time for a full response, but words like “only after due process” come to mind.

  81. “Or does it sound rather like the sort of war-time censorship (practiced, oddly enough, in a war zone) enforced in every democratic society during both world wars.”

    Not disputing, just wondering: who did that?

  82. Thoreau

    Which court is Bremer going to take this to (which character from 24 will preside)? What is to be established– that the hotel was in fact levelled by a suicide bomber, and not an Apache…and do you really think it is wise to dignify the accusation with a prolonged hearing, while the paper continues to run it, in a tense crowd control situation?

    Btw: I am pretty sure joe will not be visiting this thread…as Kerry (I am sure, although I have been nowhere on the Net today) if he hasn’t already, will certainly side with the Administration. No one who seriously pursues the Presidency places ACLU geekery ahead of the welfare of American servicemen.

  83. So I guess Andrew is saying that if the editors were ARRESTED, that would be bad, but since they were merely deprived of their public voice and their livelihood nobody should complain.

    Mmm. I am not convinced.

  84. In the end, Iraqi civilians’ individual rights are better protected by making them safer from attacks than by allowing the terrorists to recruit and spread their lies.

    I just wanted to repeat myself to see if we can get back on track here. The decision that the CPA made is just one of the many ugly decisions I’m sure they make every day. Afterall, it is a rather ugly situation that they find themselves in. They are tasked with creating an ordered society amid chaos, and they made a good decision by shutting some of the bad guys up. In the end, there is a conflict of rights involved here; the public’s right to live in a peaceable, ordered society safer from terrorist attack, and the rights of the terrorists to spread their message in an effort to foster more attacks. This is a no-brainer to me, only because it was made in a state of open warfare. Bremmer and his people sided with the right folks.

  85. I wrote, “For the CPA (temporary U.S. government in Iraq) temporarily shutting down papers that do either #1 or #2 doesn’t seem unreasonable, given the circumstances.”

    Tim Cavanaugh responded, “Why do we have a certified public accountant running the government in Iraq anyway?”

    You mean, as opposed to the President of the United States running Iraq also? πŸ˜‰

    Do you think we could “trade up” and get Paul Bremer for President, for G.W. Bush and cash…or a President to be named later? πŸ˜‰

    Based on his biography, I’d say Paul Bremer is exceptionally well qualified by experience and education, for his current position:

    http://www.cpa-iraq.org/bios/

    But his qualifications are irrelevant. The question at hand is whether or not this particular action was correct. It seems to me good arguments can be made on both sides.

    It also seems to me to be a tad arrogant for anyone who has not spent even one day in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, to judge this particular action as being clearly wrong.

  86. Think Germany 1945.

    Would pro-Nazi papers get shut down?

    If it was good enough for Germany it is good enough for Iraq.

  87. “The point that misses however is that we are supposed to be leading Iraq to democracy and away from Hussein.”

    We ARE leading Iraq to democracy! It’s utter nonsense for anyone to claim otherwise! In fact, the organization I work for has people in Iraq training Iraqis in local democracy even as we write. (At no small danger to those people, as a matter of fact.)

    “If we react to civil disorder with censorship,…”

    This is not simple “civil disorder!” When a paper in a country FALSELY prints that a bomb that killed a large number of people was actually a missile fired by the occupying military, that could very *easily* cause people to *murder* innocent people (either soldiers or civilians).

    In the United States, if such a murder occurred, the person who committed the murder would explain that the reason he committed the murder was to avenge the missile attack. Then the owner of the paper could properly be sued for every cent he had, and/or the paper owner could be criminally prosecuted.

    But the fact is, that could take months or years. Since the U.S. government likely won’t be in charge years from now, one way to protect U.S. soldiers (and civilians) from the effects of such lies is to shut down papers that print the lies, after they have been warned.

    This is not some dramatic curtailment of freedom of the press in Iraq:

    1) No newspaper in Iraq is allow to advocate killing people, and

    2) No newspaper is allowed to *falsely* claim that the U.S. military has committed attrocities.

    In the U.S., there is no real need for such laws, because the various levels of government in the U.S. (state and federal) are permanent. But as I’ve written, the CPA is a *temporary* government. It likely will not be around long enough to punish those who incite others to commit murder.

  88. M. Simon writes, “Think Germany 1945.

    Would pro-Nazi papers get shut down?

    If it was good enough for Germany it is good enough for Iraq.”

    Geez, it’s amazing the ridiculous things that get written here!

    Forget Germany in 1945. Think the U.S. in 1917. People were actually thrown in PRISON for passing out leaflets saying that the U.S. military draft violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against “involuntary servitude.”

    And that law was UPHELD all the way through the U.S. Supreme Court.

  89. For you people who seem to be clueless about what REAL press censorship is (and in far less extenuating circumstances than present-day Iraq):

    http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=11168

    P.S. Oliver Wendell Holmes…what a maroon!

  90. I’m going to have to agree w/ the hawks on this one. There are extenuating circumstances and while it doesn’t set a particularly good example, things like this sometimes have to be done in the middle of a war zone that we’re currently occupying. Though I don’t know how productive this will be to dispel the rumor, I still think we have to be careful with allowing lies that will incite violence or bring our troops in danger.

    If what the paper had printed was true, I wouldn’t defend the closure.

  91. “As to press freedom in Arab countries, what metric did you use to come to your conclusion with? How is the press freer in Iraq than say in the UAE or Qatar?”

    Here are some excerpts from Riverbend’s “Baghdad Burning” blog. (I don’t have access to many Iraqi newspapers.)

    “The discussions about the Transitional Law all focus on the legitimacy of this document. Basically, an occupying power brought in a group of exiles, declared Iraq ‘liberated’, declared the constitution we’ve been using since the monarchy annulled and set up a group of puppets as a Governing Council. Can these laws be considered legitimate?”

    And…

    “And where are we now, a year from the war? Sure- we own satellite dishes and the more prosperous own mobile phones? but where are we *really*? Where are the majority?”

    “We’re trying to fight against the extremism that seems to be upon us like a black wave; we’re wondering, on an hourly basis, how long it will take for some semblance of normality to creep back into our lives; we’re hoping and praying against civil war?”

    “We’re watching with disbelief as American troops roam the streets of our towns and cities and break violently into our homes… we’re watching with anger as the completely useless Puppet Council sits giving out fat contracts to foreigners and getting richer by the day- the same people who cared so little for their country, that they begged Bush and his cronies to wage a war that cost thousands of lives and is certain to cost thousands more.”

    “We’re watching sardonically as an Iranian cleric in the south turns a once secular country into America’s worst nightmare- a carbon copy of Iran. We’re watching as the lies unravel slowly in front of the world- the WMD farce and the Al-Qaeda mockery.”

    “And where are we now? Well, our governmental facilities have been burned to the ground by a combination of ‘liberators’ and ‘Free Iraqi Fighters’; 50% of the working population is jobless and hungry; summer is looming close and our electrical situation is a joke; the streets are dirty and overflowing with sewage; our jails are fuller than ever with thousands of innocent people; we’ve seen more explosions, tanks, fighter planes and troops in the last year than almost a decade of war with Iran brought; our homes are being raided and our cars are stopped in the streets for inspections? journalists are being killed ‘accidentally’ and the seeds of a civil war are being sown by those who find it most useful; the hospitals overflow with patients but are short on just about everything else- medical supplies, medicine and doctors; and all the while, the oil is flowing.”

    “But we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned that terrorism isn’t actually the act of creating terror. It isn’t the act of killing innocent people and frightening others? no, you see, that’s called a ‘liberation’. It doesn’t matter what you burn or who you kill- if you wear khaki, ride a tank or Apache or fighter plane and drop missiles and bombs, then you’re not a terrorist- you’re a liberator.”

    “The war on terror is a joke? Madrid was proof of that last week? Iraq is proof of that everyday.”

    If you can find a newspaper or weblog in Qatar or the UAE that is anywhere near as unremittently critical of the governments in those countries (calling them puppets and terrorists, for example…or even questioning their legitimacy at all, for that matter), I’d like to see it.

  92. “Though I don’t know how productive this will be to dispel the rumor, I still think we have to be careful with allowing lies that will incite violence or bring our troops in danger.”

    I don’t think the goal is to “dispel” the rumor. The goal is to tell all newspapers that there are some lies that they simply can’t tell.

    “If what the paper had printed was true, I wouldn’t defend the closure.”

    Nobody should defend the closure if the paper was printing the truth!

    This is about papers telling lies. And not simply little lies that put people’s reputations in danger. It’s about telling lies that really and truly put peoples’ lives in danger.

    It’s *not* to much to demand that the press refrain from telling significant lies (lies that put peoples’ lives at risk) in an extradinarily dangerous situation.

  93. “Though I don’t know how productive this will be to dispel the rumor, I still think we have to be careful with allowing lies that will incite violence or bring our troops in danger.”

    I don’t think the goal is to “dispel” the rumor. The goal is to tell all newspapers that there are some lies that they simply can’t tell.

    “If what the paper had printed was true, I wouldn’t defend the closure.”

    Nobody should defend the closure if the paper was printing the truth!

    This is about papers telling lies. And not simply little lies that put people’s reputations in danger. It’s about telling lies that really and truly put peoples’ lives in danger.

    It’s *not* too much to demand that the press refrain from telling significant lies (lies that put peoples’ lives at risk) in an extradinarily dangerous situation.

  94. Did they put the editor of the opposition paper through a shredder like Saddam and his sons would have done? I didn’t think so. Stop your whining!

    If it isn’t as bad as Saddam tnen anybody who complains is just some liberal who hates America.

    (Just had to get that out of the way before intelligent debate begins.)

  95. yes, cause pointing that out is unintellegent.

  96. Thoreau, you’re getting to be a regular Frank Gorshin with these impressions.

    Muqtada al-Sadr is a very bad man, and I can understand the concern about letting him grind out propaganda, but if more speech is the solution to bad speech in America, shouldn’t it be the same in Liberationstan?

  97. Was there total freedom of the press in the former Axis countries in the months immediately following World War II? The “new” Iraq is in its infancy. It is fighting a civil war. It is occupied by troops who are being shot at and killed daily. If those are not extenuating circumstances, I’m sure the following posts will explain it to me.

  98. Should the Catholic Church be allowed to use its considerable influence to rustle up an army with the stated purpose of assassinating abortion doctors, supporting government officials, the women who have them, and the feminist lobbyists who fight on their behalf? Our (possibly naieve) belief that they wouldn’t do that protects us from having to consider that possibility. So consider it anyway.

  99. “Liberaltarians,” hahahaha

  100. Mark,

    “Because YOU brought up the Constitution, Jean! Don’t you read your own posts?!”

    Actually, I brought up the concept of prior restraint, and described it in some detail – I never stated or implied that it US law applied to Iraq; you were the one naively applying US constitutional law to Iraq (thus implying that said law does apply in Iraq). I know you are too obtuse to see the difference, but I shall keep trying.

    “But once again, it’s easy for you to argue otherwise from the comfort of YOUR position, far outside Iraq.”

    Well, the same can be said of you; so what? BTW, I’ve actually been to Iraq; have you ever been there?

  101. Mark,

    “If you can find a newspaper or weblog in Qatar or the UAE that is anywhere near as unremittently critical of the governments in those countries (calling them puppets and terrorists, for example…or even questioning their legitimacy at all, for that matter), I’d like to see it.”

    I’m still waiting for that metric.

  102. I was agreeing with you, Mark.

  103. this is a guy who is acting on behalf of a group who would use force that a minority would impose their religios beliefs on everyone.

    Worse, this is a guy using a newspaper to solicit an illegal army of non-combatants for the purpose of escalating hostilities. In a region where 13-year olds are sometimes armed and dangerous, it would be callously irresponsible to allow such nonsense to continue. The press isn’t even free from the prevailing religious institutions…whether it is free from government intrusion, when there isn’t even yet a valid government, seems almost a silly question.

  104. Jesus, some of you really are kids.

  105. Mo writes, “I was agreeing with you, Mark.”

    Yes, I know. I’m sorry if it seemed like I was berating you. My last sentence was directed at those who think it’s somehow horrendously evil to shut down a newspaper that’s printing lies that literally can get people killed.

  106. “Should the Catholic Church be allowed to use its considerable influence to rustle up an army with the stated purpose of assassinating abortion doctors,…”

    In fact, the situation in Iraq is even more extraordinary than that. The CPA is not a permanent government. So if the Iraqi newspaper encourages the murder of Americans in Iraq, the CPA government likely won’t even be around to prosecute those who incite the murders.

    At least here in the U.S., the government will still be around for the 2 years…or 10 years…it might take to follow through on the prosecution of those who incite murder.

  107. “I’m still waiting for that metric.”

    I *provided* the metric, Jean. Find a newspaper, TV station, or weblog in Qatar or the UAE that calls the emirs of their countries terrorists or American puppets, or in fact in any way questions the legitimacy of those emirs to rule.

    You’re probably a big fan of Al Jazeera. Find even one Al Jazeera editorial that suggests that the Emir of Qatar is in any way not the legitimate ruler of Qatar…that Qatar should be a democracy, for example.

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