We've seen a powerful show of support for our Defend The Press campaign against military intimidation and harassment of journalists including Sarah Olson. In the past 72 hours Defend the Press has been endorsed by a diversity of news media and public interest organizations from Free Press to the Organic Consumers Association, from Mother Jones to Mothering magazines. Some of these organizations have sent emails to their thousands of members urging support for the campaign. Others have posted banners at the top of their websites. The National Press Club issued a news release on behalf of Sarah Olson and other subpoenaed journalists, and endorsed Defend The Press.
Defend the Press
Add the National Press Club to a growing list of journalists fighting back against military harassment of the press. In a news release, "The National Press Club today announced its opposition to the U.S. Army's subpoenas of Oakland, CA, freelance journalist Sarah Olson and Honolulu Star Bulletin reporter Gregg Kakesako. The subpoenas call for the reporters to testify at the Feb. 5 court martial of Army Lt.
Lt. Gen. James Dubik
Fort Lewis and I Corps
Bldg 2025 Stop 1
Fort Lewis WA 98433
January 24, 2007
Lt. General Dubik,
We write to object to the Army's efforts to compel journalists to testify in the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada.
Marc Cooper writes in The Nation's website that Sarah Olson's "plight hasn't gotten much attention from professional media associations, in part because she's not being asked to reveal a confidential source but only to verify what's already been published, and no doubt in part because she works primarily for small alternative outlets. Olson is being defended, however, by the First Amendment Project in Oakland on a pro bono basis.
Editor and Publisher reports that "a petition challenging U.S. Army subpoenas ordering reporters to testify in the court martial of an Army lieutenant has drawn more than 50 signatures from prominent media members, and will be placed online for more to sign later this week. Sarah Olson, a freelance journalist and radio producer in San Francisco, began circulating the petition last week, which supports her efforts and those of Honolulu Star Bulletin reporter Gregg Kakesako to oppose the order to testify.
Author Norman Solomon writes, "We often hear that the Pentagon exists to defend our freedoms. But the Pentagon is moving against press freedom. ... People who run wars are notoriously hostile to a free press. They're quick to praise it -- unless the reporting goes beyond mere stenography for the war-makers and actually engages in journalism that makes the military command uncomfortable. Evidently, that's why the Pentagon subpoenaed Sarah Olson.
The Nation magazine's John Nichol's writes that American journalism is under assault and "the greatest of all threats comes when journalists fail to defend fellow reporters and editors who have come under direct attack. ... Sarah Olson, a 31-year-old independent writer and radio producer from Oakland, California, finds herself in the targets of Army prosecutors, Those prosecutors are demanding that Olson help them build the case against 1st Lt.
"In May 2006, freelance journalist Sarah Olson interviewed Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada for Truthout.org and National Radio Project's 'Making Contact.' Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to Iraq (he considers the war to be illegal), and as a result became the first military officer charged with public dissent since 1965. Lt. Watada faces four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.