News Media & War Issues Issues

News Media:

Romanesko / Poynter Institute, Gannett lays off 700 newspaper division employees, Jim Romenesko, June 21, 2011.  That’s about 2 percent of the workforce, according to Gannett US Community Publishing division president Bob Dickey. “The economic recovery is not happening as quickly or favorably as we had hoped and continues to impact our U.S. community media organizations,” he says in a memo that’s posted below. “Publishers will notify people today and we will make every effort to reach everyone by end of day.” In March it was disclosed that Gannett CEO Craig Dubow received a $1.25 million cash bonus and had his salary doubled.

Nieman Watchdog, In Des Moines, Gannett’s cuts are devastating, Michael Gartner, June 25, 2011. The latest round of layoffs at The Register is devastating. The layoffs are devastating for those involved, of course – for those whose lives have been jolted by sudden joblessness, for those who survived but now have new uncertainties about their own futures, and for those who had to make the excruciating decisions about who would stay and who would go. Editor’s Note: For those who depend on the Register to tell them what is going on in Iowa, writes former editor and NBC News president Michael Gartner, 'what matters is all the news that we won't know. And, of course, we don't know what we won't know.'

War Legality:

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Congress v. the President on war powers, Glenn Greenwald, June 25, 2011.  Yesterday's strange House vote -- rejecting an authorization for the war in Libya but then also rejecting a bill to partially de-fund the war -- has produced substantial commentary, much of it misguided.  The so-called "de-funding" bill the House rejected yesterday was not really a de-funding bill.  It would have barred the spending of money for some war purposes, but explicitly authorized it for others.  That's why dozens of anti-Libya-war members in both parties voted NO on the de-funding bill. They they were worried (appropriately so) that had that "de-funding" bill passed, Obama lawyers would have exploited it to argue that Congress, by appropriating some money for the war, had implicitly authorized Obama to wage it. The vote failed 180-238 - but, in fact, there were more than enough lawmakers to pass the measure. Of the 149 Democrats who stuck with the president, up to 70 of them are totally opposed to the Libya intervention and want to see it completely defunded as soon as possible.

War on Terror:

Salon /Unclaimed Territory, Climate of Fear: Jim Risen v. the Obama administration, Glenn Greenwald, June 23, 2011. The Obama DOJ's effort to force New York Times investigative journalist Jim Risen to testify in a whistleblower prosecution and reveal his source is really remarkable and revealing in several ways; it should be receiving much more attention than it is.  On its own, the whistleblower prosecution and accompanying targeting of Risen are pernicious, but more importantly, it underscores the menacing attempt by the Obama administration -- as Risen yesterday pointed out -- to threaten and intimidate whistleblowers, journalists and activists who meaningfully challenge what the government does in secret.

New York Times, Free to Search and Seize, David K. Shipler, June 22, 2011 This spring was a rough season for the Fourth Amendment. The Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to allow GPS tracking of vehicles without judicial permission. The Supreme Court ruled that the police could break into a house without a search warrant if, after knocking and announcing themselves, they heard what sounded like evidence being destroyed. Then it refused to see a Fourth Amendment violation where a citizen was jailed for 16 days on the false pretext that he was being held as a material witness to a crime. The Fourth Amendment is weaker than it was 50 years ago, and this should worry everyone. "Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government," Justice Robert H. Jackson, the former chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, wrote in 1949. "Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart."Harvey Silverglate

Reason, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: The peril of vague criminal statutes, Harvey Silverglate, July 2011. The Soviet Union enacted an infamous law in 1922 that criminalized “hooliganism.” The crime was in the eye of the beholder, the beholder of consequence being the Soviet secret police. Because it was impossible for dissidents to know in advance whether they were violating this prohibition, they were always subject to arrest and imprisonment, all ostensibly according to law. One of the gravest threats to liberty today is the federal government’s ability to prosecute the innocent under hopelessly vague statutes and laws. Far too many federal laws leave citizens unsure about the line between legal and illegal conduct, punishing incorrect guesses with imprisonment. The average working American adult, going about his or her normal life, commits several arguable federal felonies a day without even realizing it. Entire lives can change based on the attention of a creative federal prosecutor interpreting vague criminal laws.

Forbes, Revolving Door at the Department of Justice, Harvey A. Silverglate, June 24, 2011. It is not unusual for a prosecutor to call a company he or she is prosecuting evil, unseemly, or some other moralistic epithet. But what happens when that prosecutor turns around and begins to defend the very company he disparaged? And what is the impact, more generally, of the current revolving door syndrome by which so many former federal prosecutors become “white collar defense lawyers” immediately after leaving the Department of Justice?