Governments ‘Fundamentally Do Not Believe in Democracy’

Paris Attacks & Press Freedom

Video – Going Underground RT

Norman Soloman, says part of the role of governments is to deceive, and no one should be surprised.

Norman Soloman, founder of U.S. Institute for Public Accuracy and part of the team behind ExposeFacts.org, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the fight for journalists’ free speech. He says part of the role of governments is to deceive, and no one should be surprised. James Risen, a New York Times journalist faces jail time as the government tries to force him to give up his sources, and even without threatening jail governments can apply pressure to ensure people lose their jobs. Veteran journalist Seymour Hersh was forced to publish revelations about the US government misleading the public over chemicals weapons use in Syria in a London magazine because his usual magazine declined to publish it. He says this is symptomatic of the surveillance state, as it becomes so far reaching confidentiality of journalists and would-be whistleblowers cannot be guaranteed – those in power want the ‘uninformed consent of the governed’ and do not believe in democracy. The government pressurises and intimidates news outlets, such as the smashing up of the computers at the Guardian offices, or the RIPA laws allowing communications monitoring between journalists and their sources. Governments, he says, ‘want to choke off the access to sources who will tell us truthful information.’

With the media changing, and being controlled by fewer internet companies, he has been looking into Amazon. The CIA entered into a $600 million contract with Amazon, so housed on Amazon servers was information from intelligence agencies, alongside a ‘treasure trove’ of personal information about Amazon’s millions of customers. Whilst Amazon does say it safeguards personal information, he says that in the smallprint ‘there are enough loopholes to fly a drone through.’ An NSA whistleblower said it was a secret agreement and we had ‘no idea’ what was in the agreement between Amazon and the CIA.

There is an ‘accentuated tension’ between conscience and integrity for journalists, and an incentive not to incur the wrath of top officials. He describes the British government as ‘obscenely contemptuous’ of press independence, and threaten and suppress journalists when they can. He argues it is collusion between governments and private contractors, not just state power, which is threatening journalists. In the West, journalists are usually threatened with jail rather than assassination, which can be a risk in some countries around the world, but nevertheless there is a lot of fear which is ‘corrosive’ and ‘damages the capacity of the press to serve democracy.’

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