freedom of the press, the government and its usances

Freedom of the Presse
Freedom of the Presse

Whilst a certain woman out of the east prepares for her new job

the new chancellor in one of her better moods

– widely believed to be a manifestation of further lethargy in the country for another four years, it seems that a greater part of the public and the voters do no longer care at all. they are not to be blamed, i believe, and i have personally spoken to several individuals who expressed their frustration and confessed that they had not even bothered to vote – a phenomenon described in the nineties by one of my esteemed professors, dr. moser from hamburg university, himself the husband of the late minster for social affairs in schleswig-holsten, as political frustration:

he pointed out in his lectures that the political caste had a deep interest in fueling this frustration in order to stay in power, regardless of their political beliefs, if they had any at all, clinging to their positions and regarding themselves partly as semi gods or sharers of stately state-incomes, pensions paid lifelong and i spite of their populations plight and unemployment.

let it be known that there are some voters and journalists who see this as scandalous behavior, undignified for a true subject of the state. one asks oneself why the esteemed political class is so eagerly clinging to their social positions, or as a friend of mine recently very fittingly put it: „a country run by teachers and lawyers will not function properly“.

one is suddenly reminded of times, when for instance the british government was run by gentlemen who had a status in society unchallenged perhaps and gained by family connections,

winston churchill speaking in the houses of parliament

who nevertheless could be swept out of office and made mistakes, who were uncorruptable and in the best case uncorrupted. it is with the greatest concern that i see the united states run by a bunch of millionaires, letting the power go from family to family, guarding their interests by force and suppression of the freedom of the press, as the case of mrs. miller, reported in the new york times yesterday, readily seems to prove:

„October 16, 2005

The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal
In a notebook belonging to Judith Miller,

mrs judith miller with her lawyer

a reporter for The New York Times, amid notations about Iraq and nuclear weapons, appear two small words: „Valerie Flame.“
Ms. Miller should have written Valerie Plame. That name is at the core of a federal grand jury investigation that has reached deep into the White House. At issue is whether Bush administration officials leaked the identity of Ms. Plame, an undercover C.I.A. operative, to reporters as part of an effort to blunt criticism of the president’s justification for the war in Iraq.
Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify and reveal her confidential source, then relented. On Sept. 30, she told the grand jury that her source was I. Lewis Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff. But she said he did not reveal Ms. Plame’s name.
And when the prosecutor in the case asked her to explain how „Valerie Flame“ appeared in the same notebook she used in interviewing Mr. Libby, Ms. Miller said she „didn’t think“ she heard it from him. „I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall,“ she wrote on Friday, recounting her testimony for an article that appears today.
Whether Ms. Miller’s testimony will prove valuable to the prosecution remains unclear, as do its ramifications for press freedom. Yet an examination of Ms. Miller’s decision not to testify, and then to do so, offers fresh information about her role in the investigation and how The New York Times turned her case into a cause.
The grand jury investigation centers on whether administration officials leaked the identity of Ms. Plame, whose husband, a former diplomat named Joseph C. Wilson IV, became a public critic of the Iraq war in July 2003. But Ms. Miller said Mr. Libby first raised questions about the diplomat in an interview with her that June, an account suggesting that Mr. Wilson was on the White House’s radar before he went public with his criticisms.
Once Ms. Miller was issued a subpoena in August 2004 to testify about her conversations with Mr. Libby, she and The Times vowed to fight it. Behind the scenes, however, her lawyer made inquiries to see if Mr. Libby would release her from their confidentiality agreement. Ms. Miller said she decided not to testify in part because she thought that Mr. Libby’s lawyer might be signaling to keep her quiet unless she would exonerate his client. The lawyer denies that, and Mr. Libby did not respond to requests for an interview.“

the current cicero affair, where our interior minister ordered a raid on the magazine´s editorial office to uncover a source in the bundesnachrichtendienst, eerily reminds of the spiegel affair, a scandal that under similar circumstances brought down franz josef strauss, then minister of the defense – a parallel which has in my view not been explored in the political pages yet.

the mere fact that telephone converations of journalists are allowed to be tapped into by the verfassungsschutz, a right by law that is only but greatfully and hopefully still guarded by our worthy german judges, is shocking enough. it seems that our democratic rights, so established by our founding fathers of the constitution in 1948 have come under severe attack after the events of september 11 and with the sole justification of security measures. „may you live in interesting times“ is an ancient chinese curse. for me, they seem interesting enough, thank very much.

I am off to zurich.

Monday, October 17, 2005, 13:28