Sunday, May 21, 2006

Attorney General claims the right to violate the First Amendment

Here's the lede from CNN's story on Attorney General Albert Gonzalez's 'comments':

"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday he believes journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, citing an obligation to national security."

It just gets worse from there.
"He added that the First Amendment right of a free press should not be absolute when it comes to national security."

I'm not a lawyer, but I think Gonzalez should take a look at this article on the State Department's website, written by James Goodale, the attorney who defended the New York Times during the Pentagon Papers case (which also involved classified information).
"The protection of the First Amendment extends beyond press reports concerning major government policies and well-known public figures. The Supreme Court has held that if the press "lawfully obtains truthful information about a matter of public significance then [the government] may not constitutionally punish publication of the information, absent a need to further a state interest of the highest order," Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing Co., 443 U.S. 97 (1979)."

And here's the conclusion to Mr. Goodale's article:
"As the cases discussed above illustrate, over the course of the 20th century the Supreme Court has breathed life into the text of the First Amendment by upholding the right of the press to pursue its mission, no matter how odious that mission might seem to those in power. The courts have imposed some limits on this liberty, and questions remain as to how far this liberty will extend to new media, and to some of the more aggressive efforts employed by journalists to obtain the news. Still, I am confident that the Supreme Court will continue to recognize that, as Justice Stewart wrote in the Pentagon Papers case, "without an informed and free press there cannot be an enlightened people."

What is it going to take to stop this administration from destroying the Constitution of the United States?