The First Amendment has its place, yes. Behind glass in a museum.

On December 7, the U.S. State Department issued a press release through official spokesman P.J. Crowley, announcing that the United States would host the 2011 World Press Freedom Day:

The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 – May 3 in Washington, D.C…

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age…

And now today, as reported on the front page of the online edition of The New York Times (“Air Force Limits Access to Web Sites Over Secret Cables”):

The Air Force is barring its personnel from using work computers to view the Web sites of The New York Times and more than 25 other news organizations and blogs that have posted secret cables obtained by WikiLeaks, Air Force officials said on Tuesday.

When Air Force personnel on the service’s computer network try to view the Web sites of The Times, the Guardian of London, Germany’s Der Spiegel, Spain’s El Pais and France’s Le Monde, as well as other sites that posted full confidential cables, the screen says: ”Access Denied: Internet usage is logged and monitored,” according to an Air Force official whose access was blocked and who shared the screen warning with The Times. Violators are warned they faced punishment if they tried to view classified material from unauthorized Web sites.

Freedom of the press is sacrosanct, except when it isn’t. For those keeping track at home, please file this one under “Censorship That Would Never, Under Any Circumstances, Happen in the United States.”

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About jaypinho

Jay is a recent graduate of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York. Previously he studied international security at L'Institut d'Études Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. He currently writes about politics, foreign affairs, and journalism and continues to make painstakingly slow progress in amateur photography.

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