Monday, January 14, 2013

Invasion of the Data Snatchers

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine
Date: Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 9:50 AM
Subject: re: Invasion of the Data Snatchers

To the Editor:
      YOU are the editor of a national newspaper. A reporter on your
staff comes to you having obtained evidence that one of the candidates
in an upcoming election is engaged in a pattern of criminal activity.
The reporter proposes to publish the evidence  and to make the larger
argument that we, the people can't really be sovereign here if we
don't even know what we're voting on.  You might find that the tricky
part is articulating how many news stories can one quash to buy access
to tomorrow's press conference and tomorrow's and tomorrow's.
    Make no mistake. Eric Lichtblau brought the story of wiretaps in
violation of the FISA statute of 1979 to Bill Keller before the
presidential election of 2004. And Bill Keller chose to quash it
rather than face the wrath of Dick Cheney.  So this newspaper could
continue to get its reporters into White House press conferences. But
we the people engaged in a sham democratic exercise, voting for the
president of the United States without knowing what the incumbent
stood for and what he was doing.
    Secrecy is an important and thorny issue. Because he who gets to
keep secrets gets to rule. That's why in another system, the king and
his privy council got to know what's going on and the subjects didn't.
  If we the people are sovereign here, then we must know on what it is
that we're voting.  A newspaper editor who kowtows when the powerful
want a story suppressed betrays both journalism and democracy. And that's not hypothetical.
Barry Haskell Levine

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