Sacramento journalist R.V. Scheide recounts his experience with an overzealous National Guardsman, who took him into custody for taking photographs at the airport. "When a half-dozen different cops tell you you've done something wrong for two hours straight, there's a tendency to start believing them, even if you haven't done anything," he writes.
In the aftermath of September 11, Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) has tracked blows against press freedom in numerous countries: reporters in Afghanistan have been arrested; journalists in Pakistan have been detained and beaten; the Palestinian Authority has pressured reporters and banned interviews with Palestinians; and the United States has tried to pressure both domestic and overseas media outlets.
As the world focuses on efforts to stop terrorism, some governments are cynically taking advantage of this struggle to justify or intensify their own crackdowns on political opponents or religious groups. Human Rights Watch has begun to compile reports on government statements or actions which use the anti-terrorism campaign as a cover for their own human rights violations.
As the United States embarks on a campaign against international terrorism abroad, it is important that we carefully consider what such a conflict could mean for our freedoms here at home. Wars often give rise to conditions of secrecy and suppression of dissent that are antithetical to democracy.
Vanessa Leggett, a college English teacher and freelance writer, is languishing in jail after she refused to turn her notes over to the FBI, which is investigating a murder case she is writing about. The FBI rejected her claims of being a journalist because she hasn't published yet. She insists that she is "sacrificing personal liberty" to maintain her "journalistic freedom." But should the FBI be deciding who is or isn't a journalist?
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which reported that the New York City Police Department used improper racial profiling and which found serious flaws in the Florida voting process, is now facing criticism for spending $135,000 on public relations. The Holmes Reports writes that according to a Scripps Howard story, "payments made during the current fiscal year are more than double the amount that the panel is allowed to pay to outside consultants, according to the requirements of its 2001 spending allocation from Congress."
Portland, Oregon resident Susan Hager's daughter Morgan was one of three U.S. citizens hospitalized in Genoa as a result of unprovoked violence by Italian police against protesters at the Group of 8 summit meeting. In the early hours of July 22, 92 young people were dragged from their beds by squads of Italian anti-riot police officers who kicked them, pummeled them with clubs and threw them down stairs. Emergency room doctors said a number of the injured would have died without treatment.
Nike has created a website offering an online virtual tour of one of its factories in Vietnam, claiming that the tour demonstrates its commitment to continuous improvement in labor practices overseas. A year in the making, the video depicts a clean, well-run factory where workers are well-treated. But according to Jason Mark, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Global Exchange, a labor rights group, "It seems more like a publicity stunt than a genuine effort to make systematic changes across the board.
In a major surrender to Israeli diplomatic pressure, BBC officials in London have banned their staff in Britain and the Middle East from referring to Israel's policy of murdering its guerrilla opponents as "assassination." BBC reporters have been told that in future they are to use Israel's own euphemism for the murders, calling them "targeted killings."
The San Francisco Independent Media Center reports that in response to escalating police sweeps and media vilification of homeless people, protesters plastered the front doors of the San Francisco Chronicle offices with copies of biased news coverage taken from the Chronicle's own pages and demanded an end to an editorial policy that is aiding and abetting the harassment and criminalization of homeless people.