Under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, The government of America safely guarantees Freedom of the Press. This assurance provides society with a free public press composed of newsgathering organizations and both the printed and electronic newspaper media. To be more specific, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifically states the basis for Freedom of the Press as:Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.
After the events of September 11 though, this freedom has come under close scrutiny and debate. Is the Freedom of the Press is not a National Security loophole being used by the enemies of freedom? If so, should the government be allowed to curtail press freedom to a certain degree in order to protect the interest of the state?This is gray area that can only be best discussed once we understand what National Security is all about. The most basic meaning of the word leads us to understand that national security pertains to an act of protecting the nation from acts of war and crime, more specifically, acts of terrorism in any form, shape, or size. Due to technological advancements and the continuously changing face of the enemy, it has come to the attention of the powers that be that there may be too much information dissemination going on. So some of them wish to curb the freedom of the press in order to prevent the leakage of any sensitive and volatile nature to the public. If the goal of the government and intelligence agencies is to protect the citizens of the most democratic nation in the world, why is there a move to keep the people in the dark? In the bodyguard business, they say that a protected needs to know what the threats to his safety are in order for him to be better prepared for any action his guards may take to save his life or to allow him a chance to protect himself if need be. Can the case of National Security be any different when what is at stake is the life of the whole nation?When the common man is asked for is opinion on this topic, the immediate response is usually yes. Their agreement is usually dependent on 2 factors.
There is a sector of society that believes that Freedom of the Press should not be restricted across the board. The belief is that if the government has their own people who maintain the required security level, there will be no need to worry about the press because they will never get close enough to find out anything to write about.That problem seems to always boil down to one important decision making factor. Who shall make the decisions on what topics and matters can be restricted? Everything goes wrong in this part of the decision tree because even though the rules are there and already in place, there is always some political appointee who wants to decide what to enforce on who and when to enforce it. This is the specific moment when curtailing press freedom as an idea goes bad.The press does not automatically have the green light to be everywhere and know everything but a country that dictates what the press can or must write is a corrupt and fascist government. The United States of America most certainly has never had and will never have such a reputation as a leader of the free world.The government need not worry about placing restrictions on press freedom for the sake of national security because the government is already empowered to classify what information the press can be given access to.
This information is further classified as public, and therefore open for public information dissemination, or protected, meaning that the information is sensitive, classified, or high clearance. As such, the information is protected from the peering and inquisitive eyes of the press because the information they wish to gain access to is of vital importance to national security. Such information is protected by freedom of information legislation. This is the law that defines what information is to be considered relevant to national interest.Information shared with and by the press is not an act of endangering national security. The right of the citizens to be informed is a part of the Constitution that made this country great. Whatever knowledge the press has is a double-edged sword, it can be of tremendous use to national security or it could end up endangering the nation.
Even if such is the case, we cannot willingly surrender the freedom of the press.It is the duty of the government to keep the nation secure, that is the duty they swore to. The press swore to keep the people informed regarding any and all issues affecting them. National security is an issue that affects very citizen of this land.
In a perfect world, we would have effective news restriction guidelines that will allow the press to get the information they need, share it with the citizens in order to keep them informed enough to stay abreast of the issues, while keeping the state of national security protected. This way, there would be no need to curtail press freedom in the interest of national security.Works CitedForgiven_Sinner. “Give Me Freedom and Give Me Security” Online Posting. August 12, 2002. Free Republic.
February 11, 2007. <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/732105/posts>Ross, Brian and Esposito, Richard.
“FBI Acknowledges: Journalists’ Phone Records are Fair Game”. May 16, 2007. ABC News. February 11, 2007.
<http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/05/fbi_acknowledge.html>”Freedom of the Press”.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. February 10, 2007. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_the_press>