Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Putting the "F" (and a "U") in FBI

Good to see someone is stickin' it to The Man. The family of late newspaper columnist Jack Anderson Scalia'ed the FBI when it came knocking and asking for Anderson's files, dating back 50 years.
The family of the late newspaper columnist Jack Anderson yesterday rejected a request by the FBI to turn over 50 years of files to agents who want to look for evidence in the prosecution of two pro-Israel lobbyists, as well as any classified documents Anderson had collected.

Kevin P. Anderson, son of the storied Washington-based writer, said the family is outraged at what it calls government overreaching and "a dangerous departure" from First Amendment press protections, a stance joined by academic and legal experts.

Fighting back and resisting are strategies for ending government abuse of power. Kudos to the Anderson's for not caving. Here's more:
First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams noted "a disturbing logic" to government efforts first to target the receipt of information that journalists have historically discussed without any threat of sanction, and then to track down documents "which even the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover would not have taken steps to obtain from Anderson."

Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, said the executive branch's increasingly aggressive effort to control publication even after documents have been disclosed "is a profoundly dangerous step."

"It is both ironic and somehow fitting that Jack Anderson should again be at the center of a controversy like this," Aftergood added. "What the FBI couldn't do during his lifetime, they're now seeking to do after his death, and I think many Americans will find that offensive."

Washington Post: FBI Rebuffed on Reporter's Files

Andy in H-burg

6 Comments:

Anonymous An Elf Named Bob said...

The government has simply asked them for information.They havent made them.They are just doing what should be done:Seeking all evidence so that a fair trial can be conducted.Again, all im saying is, all the government has done, is asked for information, that may or may not convict 2 people.How would you like if you are on trial, you are innocent, and the one piece of evidence that will save you is owned by a man.Government, comes up asks for the information, but the guy says no.Then you are imprisioned for 20 years.the governments trying to be fair.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous The Mad Scotsman said...

I appreciate your sentiments, Bob, they sound fair minded and non judgemental. Unfortunately, some of us believe the executive branch is desperately trying to control information as a way to control the citizenry (is that a word?), and this fits very well with our existing opinions.

To answer your question, if I was on trial, I would be horrified if the government started going on a fishing trip looking for incriminating information. At a superficial level, my take is that the government either doesn't have the goods on the two guys, or have realized that some of the papers might cause political harm to some people (and the two guys are a ruse to access the papers) - it does not suggest to me that the government may be trying to be fair

It's ironic that this comes out at a time when many of us believe the biggest leaker of classified information for political gain is the president himself.

Cheers, Neil.

10:02 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

Bob, your scenario is plausible. However, in the current atmosphere, I would lean toward the voices of caution in the article. It's just hard to envision the government as the agent of good. For other examples:

1. Brandon Mayfield:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5092810/site/newsweek/

2. Thomas Merton Center:
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/24528prs20060314.html

3. PETA, Greenpeace, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/19/AR2005121901777.html

The examples go on, including the use of sneak-and-peek warrants under the new standard of the Patriot Act for non-terrorist investigations and the 300-fold increase in the use of National Security Letters. In a perfect world, your scenario would be accurate, but the world is far from perfect at the moment.

peace,
Andy

10:05 PM  
Blogger RADAtheist said...

I guess my biggest concern for this country right now is that the government keeps saying "trust us" and then proving we can't, while people keep saying "we don't mind giving up our freedoms if you're making us safer."

While there are some of us willing to stand up and say "Stop it!" too many Americans seem to think it's ok to let the government do anything they want in the name of freedom, even if it means getting rid of it.

To quote from Star Wars, Episode III: So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.

I hope we never get to that point.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous an elf named bob said...

Aclu of pennslyvania:We dont live in a perfect world,we will never live in a perfect world, were just trying to do the best.I cant believe how the government has requested information, and then everybody goes crazy.Does anybody remember the insident when the cuban boy was forcibly removed from his father my force during the clinton admenitration.That was bad.So your saying the government isnt fair, because its trying to be fair.
to mad scotsman: the government always looks for incriminating information, because that means , if found, you were a criminal, and broke the law.And if they dont have the goods, its there job to follow every lead.And then this conspiracy theory:how can you form a grounds on that?Apparently, the government is out to get us.Or as Is said.And political gain, its his last term.And the classified information?people call for it, its sent out, and then everybody attacks the government (though I admit, there has been aproblem with the leaks, a fairly large problem.

You people say you support freedom and justice, and yet you people explode when the government tries to do what its supposed to do.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Peter G said...

ElfBob - where did you get the idea that the FBI agents might even possibly be looking for evidence that would be favorable to these defendants? In 30 years as a criminal defense lawyer in all sorts of cases I have never *once* heard of a federal prosecutor or agent going looking for exculpatory evidence. When favorable evidence exists in their files they generally will turn it over to the defense (as the Constitution requires), although not always. But again, I've *never* heard of them going looking for it. On the other hand, they will go the ends of the earth looking for additional incriminating evidence (as is their job). I do agree with you that the agents didn't necessarily do anything wrong by asking (if all they did was ask, and not demand or threaten), but I also think the Anderson family clearly did the right thing by saying No. Normally, the right thing is for any person who has evidence in their possession relating to a crime, whether incriminating or exonerating to a defendant, to turn the evidence over to the lawyer for the side that the evidence favors. But this story describes a clear exception to the rule: an investigative reporter (now deceased) obtained secret information from government sources in order to reveal official wrongdoing. Freedom of the press requires that he (and his heirs) be allowed to keep his sources secret.

9:16 PM  

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