The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 has given corporations increased power to censor speech that they don't like. It severely curtails the "fair use" doctrine which allows artists, writers and scholars to use fragments of copyrighted works without permission for the purposes of education, criticism and parody.
During the first war in the Persian Gulf, U.S. citizens saw mostly sanitized images of smart bombs hitting non-human targets. Images of death and suffering were kept to a minimum, thanks in part to the military's pool system which controlled the movements and activities of most journalists. Photographer Peter Turnley refused to participate in the pool system and managed to get pictures that few people have seen. "Many people have asked the question 'how many people died' during the war with Iraq and the question has never been well answered," he writes.
Front page attention in the New York Times is priceless publicity. Heavy-handed censorship at UC Berkeley has backfired, landing a fundraising appeal by the school's Emma Goldman Papers Project on the Times front page. "Goldman died in 1940, more than two decades after being
deported to Russia with other anarchists in the United
States who opposed World War I. Now her words are the
source of deep consternation once again, this time at the
University of California, which has housed Goldman's papers
"The Bush administration has put a much tighter lid than recent presidents on government proceedings and the public release of information, exhibiting a penchant for secrecy that has been striking to historians, legal experts and lawmakers of both parties," writes Adam Clymer in a detailed report on the administration's new and wide-ranging secrecy policies.
"The administration's fight to keep a tight hold over government information is far from over," reports Vanessa Blum. "Watchdog groups continue attempts to penetrate the inner sanctum of the executive branch using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other open government laws." Numerous FOIA fights are currently underway against the White House and Justice Department. "It's absolute trench warfare," says Georgetown University Law Center professor David Vladeck.
"The United States edited out more than 8,000 crucial pages of Iraq's 11,800-page dossier on weapons, before passing on a sanitized version to the 10 non-permanent members of the United Nations security council," reports the UK's Sunday Herald. Apparently the report includes embarrassing evidence of U.S. and European culpability in aiding the Iraqi weapons programs, dating back to before the Gulf War, but covering the period of Saddam Hussein's rise and his worst crimes.
"A dozen years after the Gulf War, public perceptions of it are now very helpful to the White House," media critic Norman Solomon writes in his Media Beat column. "That's part of a timeworn pattern.
The congressional Joint Inquiry into September 11 is recommending revising government information policies not only to promote information sharing among government agencies, but also to expand public access to government information, because ""an alert and committed American public" could be "the most potent weapon" in the war against terrorism.
O'Dwyer's reports that top PR and lobby firms for the Saudis are dodging subpoenas from the Congressional Committee on Government Reform. Says the O'Dwyer website (now only accessible by subscription, but well worth the fee), "Michael Petruzzello, head of Qorvis Communicatins and Jack Deschauer of Patton Boggs, were not found at their offices or homes by U.S. Marshals, according to The New York Sun. A lawyer for Jamie Gallagher of the Gallagher Group stalled Congressional staffers until too late in the day for agents to serve a subpoena, reports The New York Post.
Bob Woodward's reporting on the Watergate story made him a journalistic legend, but his reliance on secret sources troubles Richard Blow. "Among journalists who care about nagging details like accuracy, there will also be the inevitable handwringing over Woodward's dubious reporting methods, the fact that he writes from a fly-on-the-wall perspective yet never identifies his sources," Blow writes.