THE BLOG
01/12/2011 02:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

US Prosecution of Icelandic MP vs. Iceland as a Free Press Sanctuary Against Political Prosecutions

Recent actions by the US DOJ under Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama have reached a new low. Under the overly broad and vague auspices of 'national security,' our Department of Justice has subpoenaed the online records via Twitter, et al... of an Icelandic MP, namely MP Birgitte Jonsgottir. For those of you unfamiliar with the titles used by European legislatures -- an MP is the equivalent of a federal member of Congress.

The official DOJ rationale behind demanding online records from Jonsgottir (among other parties named), is her involvement as a WikiLeaks volunteer and -- more specifically her role in releasing the 2007 video of an American Apache helicopter shooting two Reuters reporters in Iraq, accompanied by the lilt of our soldiers laughter -- the entire time. While this revelation is politically embarrassing -- it does not fulfill the requirements for espionage charges. DOJ will claim that the video was leaked by Bradley Manning, but the use of such leaked information is not illegal, unless the DOJ and President Obama intent to make investigative journalism a crime. Yet, Jonsdittor is facing an attack by US DOJ as they demand her private messages from Twitter.

..."Do they realize I am a member of Parliament?

Her response was first one of disbelief at the arrogance of the demand, as she claimed..." Do they realize I am a member of Parliament in Iceland?" Apparently, the US DOJ doesn't care that she is a member of parliament from a sovereign nation; rather DOJ is treating Iceland as a subservient 'vassal' satellite of the US. That's diplomatic blunder #1.

Jonsgottir was rightfully incensed by this disrespect for her and her country. After demanding a meeting with the US ambassador to Iceland; she issued her opinion of this political prosecution of another nation.

"It's not just about my information. It's a warning for anyone who had anything to do with WikiLeaks. It is completely unacceptable for the US justice department to flex its muscles like this. I am lucky, I'm a representative in parliament. But what of other people? It's my duty to do whatever I can to stop this abuse."

Jonsdittor went on to compare the attacks by DOJ as a mafia style warning...

"I think I am being given a message, almost like someone breathing in a phone."

The true target of prosecution...US DOJ wants to kill IMMI or Free Press Sanctuary Act

I agree with Ms. Jonsgottir on the motives of DOJ, but with one proviso -- her WikiLeaks involvement, though embarrassing does not meet the level of criminality, but her actions as a chief sponsor of the new media law in Iceland is the true target.

The IMMI is a 'Journalist's Bill of Rights...

Jonsdittor is the Chief Sponsor of the IMMI (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative), a newly crafted legislative act specifically engineered to re-establish and defend a 'free speech'/ 'free press' zone in Iceland, devoid of harassment and political prosecutions. This 'free press' zone would sanction Iceland as a sanctuary for journalists. In a climate rife with prosecutorial abuse (both here in the US and abroad); the legal rights articulated in the IMMI legislation would protect journalists against extradition and subsequent political prosecutions which are barely legal 'gruel' thinly disguised as... 'the rule of law.'

IMMI 'highlights':

More specifically, the IMMI is a set of legislative principles, similar to a 'journalist's bill of rights' subdivided into 13 distinct sections designated to be finalized as laws during the revision process. The highlights of the IMMI legislation are as follows:

1.)"Protection from 'libel tourism' and other 'extrajudicial abuses'; (libel tourism occurring when plaintiffs actively search for jurisdictions or countries to file libel cases where the result will favor the would be censor); cynically, the US Congress passed with President Obama's signature the SPEECH Act of 2010 which makes any foreign libel judgment null and void unless it is in compliance with the US First Amendment);

2.) Protection of intermediaries (ie. Internet Service Providers); (the very idea of privacy from government intrusion minus actual proof of wrongdoing was ironically a pillar of our Bill of Rights -- prior to the age of the obscene and hapless Patriot Act);

3.)..Statute of limitations on publishing liabilities; (consider a world where you can be prosecuted for any statement you made verbally or in writing--no matter the history...this protection is necessary to prevent the virtual strangulation of free speech/free press);

4.)..Virtual limited liability companies; (again--the issue is obvious);

5.)..Whistle-blower protections; (without whistle-blowers, the actions of tyrants would remain secret...);

6.).Source protection; (see whistle-blower protections...just a bit more specificity to prevent any legal loopholes);

7.Source-journalist communications protection;
8.)..Process protections;
9.)Ultra-modern Freedom of Information Act. (At this point, the modernized Freedom of Information Act would bring the entire concept into the 21st century; forbidding illegitimate loopholes which would allow the withholding of information because the requesting source did not reflect official ideas of who constitutes a journalist).

The IMMI proposal became law via a UNANIMOUS PARLIAMENTARY VOTE, on June 16th, 2010, and is now being edited to a final form. The intent of the Icelandic Parliament is to make this 'editing' an amending process, while retaining the original's legislative intent according to the espoused principles. In short, the initial document was a 'journalist's declaration of independence and the final document a journalist's bill of rights. The Icelandic parliament is also making strides to have the legal profession 'catch up' with the new technology in a fashion which clearly protects the very concept of a free press.
(Source: http://immi.is/?/=en)
(Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_Modern_Media_Initiate)

IMMI leaves renegade leaders no place to hide...

In a world dominated by 'globalism,' the IMMI marries the new technology to the old, original concept of a 'free and vigorous press.' This new legislation would present US DOJ several unique challenges.

The first challenge speaks to the right of each nation to enact legislation as a sovereign entity. Either respect each sovereign nation as global equals, or continue to act as an illegitimate force for global, corporate empire. This particular challenge would open multiple legal floodgates as new information surfaces, regarding the conduct of our military and CIA--particularly where charges of 'crimes against humanity' are justified.

US culpabilities would be openly reported on international channels not controlled by corporate sources, and consequently, criminal charges against those involved in such crimes would have greater validity. Even the office of President would be vulnerable to the true 'rule of law.' Both current and past presidents could be held accountable for various crimes, including (but not limited to..) illegal rendition, acts of torture and genocide.

No current president could refuse to pursue charges against past president's or past cabinet members when crimes against humanity are in evidence.

Another new challenge would be the right of any sovereign nation (such as Iceland), to act as a sanctuary for journalists escaping political prosecutions. Again, no president could order an illegal rendition for an escaped journalist. No president could inoculate themselves against the transparency and accountability of a free and vigorous press. No president could order an illegal war of empire, murder hundreds of thousands of civilians, and cover up the crime. It is quite obvious how this new act by the Icelandic parliament, sponsored by Ms. Jonsgottir--represents a true danger to any despot--anywhere in the world--from the closed doors of the Chinese dictatorship to ...the Oval Office.

When the US Congress passed the SPEECH Act of 2010 with President Obama's signature, they
should have considered the full name of the act when reflecting on the shameful behavior of our government. The full name of the SPEECH Act of 2010 is : The Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act.

What the congress, the Attorney General and the President fail to recognize is the simple fact that our constitution and Bill of Rights are more than a 'heritage,' they are the cornerstone of our democracy. Rather than viewed as a dying or dead relic of history or our 'heritage' --the Bill of Rights must be supreme over any petty government officer--including the President. Perhaps the present occupant of the Oval Office should re-acquaint himself with those very principles.