Authoritarian Regimes (Like the U.S. and Britain) Treat Reporters Like Terrorists

George Washington's picture

The U.S. Government Condemns Authoritarian Regimes Which Use Anti-Terror Laws to Stifle Journalism

It is widely known that authoritarian regimes use “anti-terror” laws to crack down on journalism.

But this extreme tactic is becoming more and more common.  The Committee to Protect Journalists reported a year ago that terrorism laws are being misused worldwide to crush journalism:

The number of journalists jailed worldwide hit 232 in 2012, 132 of whom were held on anti-terror or other national security charges. Both are records in the 22 years CPJ has documented imprisonments.

The American government has rightly condemned such abuses.  For example, the U.S. State Department noted last April:

Some governments are too weak or unwilling to protect journalists and media outlets. Many others exploit or create criminal libel or defamation or blasphemy laws in their favor. They misuse terrorism laws to prosecute and imprison journalists. They pressure media outlets to shut down by causing crippling financial damage. They buy or nationalize media outlets to suppress different viewpoints. They filter or shut down access to the Internet. They detain and harass – and worse.

The State Department condemned Burundi in 2012 for treating journalists as terrorists.

The 2012 State Department human rights report on Turkey criticized the country for imprisoning “scores of journalists…most charged under antiterror laws or for connections to an illegal organization.”

The State Department rightly announced in 2012:

We are deeply concerned about the Ethiopian government’s conviction of a number of journalists and opposition members under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. This practice raises serious questions and concerns about the intent of the law, and about the sanctity of Ethiopians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.


The arrest of journalists has a chilling effect on the media and on the right to freedom of expression. We have made clear in our ongoing human rights dialogue with the Ethiopian government that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are fundamental elements of a democratic society.


As Secretary Clinton has said, “When a free media is under attack anywhere, all human rights are under attack everywhere. That is why the United States joins its global partners in calling for the release of all imprisoned journalists in every country across the globe and for the end to intimidation.”

Last October – in response to respected Moroccan journalist Ali Anouzla being arrested under an anti-terror law for linking to a Youtube video – the State Department said:

We are concerned with the government of Morocco’s decision to charge Mr. Anouzla. We support freedom of expression and of the press, as we say all the time, universal rights that are an indispensable part of any society.

U.S. and U.K. Do the Exact Same Thing

Unfortunately, the American and British governments are doing the exact same thing.

The British High Court just ruled that Glenn Greenwald’s partner could be treated like a terrorist because he was trying to deliver leaked documents to reporters.

Amnesty International writes:

It is clearly deeply troubling if laws designed to combat terrorism can be used against those involved in reporting stories of fundamental public interest. There is no question the ruling will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the future.

Indeed, the British government considers the following activities to constitute terrorism:

The disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government [or] made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause.

The ACLU’s Ben Wizner satirically writes:

Relax, everyone. You’re not terrorists unless you try “to influence a government.” Just type what you’re told.

The U.S. government is targeting whistleblowers in order to keep its hypocrisy secret … so that it can keep on doing the opposite of what it tells other countries to do.

As part of this effort to suppress information which would reveal the government’s hypocrisy, the American government – like the British government – is treating journalists as terrorists.

Journalism is not only being criminalized in America, but investigative reporting is actually treated like terrorism.

Veteran reporters and journalists say that the Obama administration is the most “hostile to media” of any administration in history.

The government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws (and here). For example, after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge

After the government’s spying on the Associated Press made it clear to everyone that the government is trying to put a chill journalism, the senior national-security correspondent for Newsweek tweeted:

Serious idea. Instead of calling it Obama’s war on whistleblowers, let’s just call it what it is: Obama’s war on journalism.


  • The Bush White House worked hard to smear CIA officers, bloggers and anyone else who criticized the Iraq war
  • In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)

And the American government has been instrumental in locking up journalists in America (and here), Yemen and elsewhere for the crime of embarrassing the U.S. government.

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Randoom Thought's picture

Once again, the government and the powers that control the government have tried to make it very clear that they want us to fear them. Whereas the vast majority of people would never even considering murdering or blackmailing someone else, we are being told that is not the case with the puppet and the puppeteers. We are told that they will blackmail us and they will murder us if we try to get in their way.

They might in fact have the power to murder any individual person. However, if they murder everyone then they have no one to be their slaves and no one to rule over. They lose all of their power.

If enough people do not fear them then they lose all of their power too.

Greshams Law's picture

To be treated like terrorists, the government would have to be giving reporters gifts of cash and weapons.

blindman's picture

the problem appears to be that fraudulent induction of
credit is required by the monetary system to sustain
its continued functioning and it only works so long as
a majority of the people remain ignorant of this fact,
obviously not a desirable or sustainable state or design.
the result is reporting or speaking intelligently
must be outlawed and criminalised. if it is tolerated
the monetary system will fail.
that is the main point. we have an impossible design
that will destroy us through our adherence to its
demands; designed by proto-fascists in 1910-1913.
oh well.

Bohm Squad's picture

I thought FOX settled this once and for all...MSM is entertainment, not "news".

On a more serious note...the "us vs them" battle lines are being more clearly drawn.  People are choosing their teams.

Walt D.'s picture

To understand how authoritarian regimes react, you need only ask -"What would Hitler have done? What would Stalin have done? What would Mao have done?" 

dreadnaught's picture

the corrupt, lieing thieves in government are frightened of Mr Snowden-hence they want to jail him or kill him    lol if they have nothing to hide-why do they want to silence him so badly?

kurt's picture

Sedition Mr. Washington (if that is your real name)!


Tim_'s picture

Americans should be fighting against the occupation government. Instead, they make tribute payments to it on every April 15th.

DaveyJones's picture

"It is clearly deeply troubling if laws designed to combat terrorism can be used against those involved in reporting stories of fundamental public interest."

reminds me of terrorist torture techniques used on terrorists to create "truths" to "combat terrorism"

Mad Muppet's picture

It's going to take a while for folks raised on "Land of the Free" propaganda to wake up and see we're little different, and no better than any other third-world shithole when it comes to our government. Same bunch of authoritarian bastards trying to steal all they can, for as long as possible.

YHC-FTSE's picture

I'm a fan of Abby Martin on RT. There I said it. I've never been a fan of anyone living, she's not my type physically,  and she goes off on tangents sometimes, but by everything I hold dear, she has what Americans call "moxi", and I adore her for it. I don't want to gush, and she'll probably hate it, but she's like a family member I worry about and want to protect. Truly inspirational lady who is a credit to her profession. 

So when the recent Wikipedia nonsense happened to Abby (She apparently does not exist on it and it was being blamed first on her lack of notoriety and then on the wiki editorial process which stinks of bs. If third rate bit actors have their own wiki page but she has been deliberately left out, it's obviously because there's a concerted effort to ban her from the world's most popular encyclopedia.), I did some research, found an unfinished "sandbox talk page"about her and there discovered something that is both shocking and relevant to GW's article today:


Rand Paul

  • Martin was a Ron Paul supporter
  • Confrontation with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Martin was allegedly harassed by Capitol Hill police after she asked Rand Paul why he endorsed Romney instead of his own father. According to sources, Martin was threatened with losing her job and being the subject of a lawsuit by the senate media relations committee for asking uncomfortable questions in her role as an independent journalist that didn't fit the scripted Capitol narrative. Because of her unscripted investigatory questions, RT America was threatened with the loss of all of their press credentials.[1



Now I can't find this "Senate Media Relations Committee"  anywhere on the US government websites, so which body was threatening to sue is a mystery,  but if this story is accurate, it means press organisations and journalists can lose their credentials for asking questions politicians do not like. Questions that are too close to the truth. Journalists cannot go anywhere in Washington without their credentials,  so its loss is the same as shutting up shop forever. Considering the touted freedom of the press propaganda we often hear, I find this idea of politicians having the power to revoke journalists' licenses or even shutting a media outlet down very disturbing. 

It is not surprising that all the petty, salacious details are allowed to be aired in the name of the free press, but dig into any meaningful political strategem, and it's bye bye press freedom if they are lucky and if not, maybe get their cars blown up on the highway.  

Abby is a proponent of the 'citizen journalist' idea, and I think that way, together with whistleblowers, may be the only way to get any real news these days. The system is stacked against the organised press, and the mainstream is a sick joke that merely echoes whatever their backers spout for the public's consumption.  

I used to keep a list of outright lies and lies by omissions aired by the BBC news in the UK.  It grew so large especially during the first 3 months of the Syrian conflict on a daily basis, it was impossible to keep up and I had to stop. We even played a game to see who can spot the first lie when the news came on in our household. It is just ridiculous. How the hell can things become this surreal and twisted in the 21st century?  

Vendetta's picture

There is video of Abby trying to ask Rand some questions out there somewhere.  I saw it.  Rand proves the apple does fall far from the tree.  Ron would have been glad to answer her questions because he is honest and not a political player like his dear son.

Tim_'s picture

The Senate (Including Rand Paul) Vote to Extend $9 Billion in Loan Guarantees for the Benefit of Israel

"Have you heard about the the 'United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012'? It was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer on 3/6/12 with 71 Cosponsors."

"The U.S. Senate passed their version on Friday June 29, 2012. Known in the Senate as S.2165, the measure guaranteed an astonishing $9 billion dollars in loans to Israel (plus all fees and interest!) in addition to giving 'military assistance- stockpiles of defense articles' valued at $200 million for 2013 and $200 million for 2014."

"Confirming Rand Paul's support of this bill was Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who said 'I am very pleased that this important piece of legislation passed quickly and unanimously in the Senate today, demonstrating the United States' strong, unwavering commitment to Israel and its security and self-defense.'"

Ignatius's picture

Abby's first news site is Media Roots:

Her and her brother Robbie do a semi-regular podcast together posted and archived at Media Roots. 

Abby is an unrepentent 9/11 skeptic and that is likely at the heart of her Wiki problems.

shankster's picture

Oh! and Homeland 'Security' is purchasing 700 million more bullets too.

dexter_morgan's picture

I'm really gettin sick of that shit. Been hard as hell to stock up when it's either all sold out or double the price of what it should be. When did piddly little 22LR's start costing $.15 each. Is the world going mad?

Peter Pan's picture

And a few more nails for their nail guns.

wisehiney's picture

That nail gun will more likely get you hurt than prevent it.

Infinite QE's picture

MSM is finished. The people are stupid in large part, but even they can sense they're being bamboozled.

rsnoble's picture

You can have all the bombs in the world but if everyone hates you because you're a deuchbag good luck.

Tall Tom's picture

Let me give you a clue about people with bombs.


If they do not care about their own lives then they will not care about your life.


So go ahead and piss them off.

lakecity55's picture

"Authoritarian Regimes like the US and GB treat their own citizens as terrorists now...ALL of them!"

The primary enemy of the USG is EVERYONE who lives here.

bugs_'s picture

and reporters made deals with Saddam.  they are the hand lotion between the hand and the glove.

nmewn's picture


It would be much easier for the population to stand with "journalists" if they resumed their proper role as critical thinking watchdogs OF government, instead of being the sock puppets OF government they have become.

But occassionaly something slips through the editor/statist screening process...

"Surprised by how tough this winter has been? You’re in good company: Last fall the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that temperatures would be above normal from November through January across much of the Lower 48 states. This graphic shows just how wrong the official forecast of the U.S. government was:

“Not one of our better forecasts,” admits Mike Halpert, the Climate Prediction Center’s acting director."

...and makes one wonder, what is the purpose of this mea culpa expose'?

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say NOAA is pressing behind the scenes for more funding and is, again, using "journalists" to their ends knowing the press will dutifully comply ;-)

leekyuranus's picture

Other than the Internet (and we know how much we can trust what is written here!) there are few vehicles for serious journalists to get their message out. Since most of the world's major media are owned by a few corporations, there is no incentive to report what is really going on, or to provide serious analysis. It is simply not in the corporations' best interests.


While the Internet has provided an enormous opportunity for us to find out what is going on around the world, it is terribly diluted by meaningless junk. Which is obviously what we want. Hence the lack of serious journalism as well! :)


Corporations and governments; hand-in-glove. Politics is the shadow cast by big business.

dexter_morgan's picture

The fucking media deserves it for being prostiutes and propagandists instead of doing their jobs. Where are the real journalists? Nixon must be pissed (in the afterlife....) about Woodward and Bernstein - just think of the shit he could of gotten away with given todays 'journalists'.

Tall Tom's picture

Real journalists are censored and harassed by the Terrorism laws. One is sitting in an embassy over in London because of some trumped up sex charges. Wikileaks was journalism of a sort at the start.


Revolution is stirring and you want to write about who deserves what. Okay.


What do you think that the entire nation deserves?

Infinite QE's picture

Definitely worthy of a high quality organic cotton t-shirt.