As a matter of faith, some people believe that God can see and hear everything. But as a matter of fact, the U.S. government now has the kind of surveillance powers formerly attributed only to a supreme being.
The Obama administration's statements about the three Al Jazeera journalists are encouraging and ring true to the needs of both the Egyptian and the American people, but it's unsure whether they are in the right position to point their finger just yet.
According to the operating consensus, the American public has no right to know what the CIA is up to, even when what it's up to is extremely questionable in terms of dealing with our officially proclaimed enemies; and liberating such data from the crypt called classification is criminal behavior.
Charging that the administration has launched "an assault on freedom of the press," a new petition tells Obama and Holder: "We urge you in the strongest terms to halt all legal action against Mr. Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources."
This isn't an attempt to improve the Free Flow of Information Act, it's an attempt to kill it. As appealing as it might seem to cover absolutely everyone in the United States as a potential "journalist," the result is clear. A privilege held by everyone can be held by no one.
The term "spring offensive" may be out of favor in the media, but more than 50 organizations endorsed a forum this past Friday with some of the media's best known editorial heavyweights, to discuss the most serious crisis journalistic freedom has faced in decades.
As a nation at peace becomes a fading memory, so does privacy. Commitments to idealism -- seeking real alternatives to war and upholding democratic values -- are under constant assault from the peaks of power.
Journalists who can be compelled to violate the confidentiality of their sources, or otherwise go to prison, are reduced to doing little more than providing stenographic services to pass along the official story. That's what the White House wants.