A New Assault on Freedom of Press …

Department of Homeland Security.  Their job?  To protect us with their 229,000 employees and their $40.6 billion budget.  Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management.

Now tell me how the following fits into their stated goals?

Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers

Feel that chill creeping down your spine, my fellow-bloggers?  Fellow citizens who still believe in the First Amendment?  Journalist friends?

While I feel the chill in my spine, I am more incensed than anything.  HOW DARE THEY???

According to Bloomberg Law …

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.””

Threats to the freedom of the press began emitting from Trump & Co long before the election, and haven’t slowed since.  For the past two weeks, Trump has been railing against The Washington Post because he doesn’t like the way they report on him, and has even suggested they be forced to register as a lobbyist group.

Last October, Indiana State Representative Jim Lucas, proposed a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by the state, pay a $75 fee, and submit fingerprints.  Lucas is a nutcase who was claiming that if “his” 2nd Amendment right to ‘bear arms’ required a license, so should the press’ 1st Amendment right, but even so …

According to an article in Columbia Journalism Review yesterday …

“… liberal journalist Greg Palast announced on his blog that he and fellow producer Matt Pascarella have become subject to a Department of Homeland Security criminal investigation for filming the exterior of an Exxon Mobil refinery [emphasis added] near New Orleans while working on a documentary entitled New Orleans: Big Easy to Big Empty.”

It should be noted that ExxonMobil is a corporation, not a top-secret government facility.

And now DHS is seeking a contractor that can help it monitor ‘traditional news sources as well as social media and identify “any and all” coverage related to the agency or a particular event’, according to a request for information released April 3.  But it is in the details that we see a darker intent, for they outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and ‘influencers’, those of us who disperse information to the public.

Since John Kelly left the Department of Homeland Security to become the White House babysitter, the agency has been led by Kirstjen Nielsen, who was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in on 06 December 2017.  Nielsen is a Trump sycophant (one of many) who claims he did not make the comment about “shithole countries” (he did) and who claims the threat along the U.S.-Mexican border is real (it isn’t).  And now she wants to spend precious DHS resources to monitor journalists all over the world, as well as here at home, even those of us who write humble little blogs.  What could possibly go wrong, right?

Freedom of the Press is under attack in many areas of the world, including some led by the very autocrats that Donald Trump appears to nearly worship, such as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, The Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, and of course let us not forget Russia’s Vladimir Putin.  Journalists who tell too much or criticize the regime are jailed and silenced.  “But surely that cannot happen here!”, you say.  How much are you willing to bet on that?

The rules have changed and they are frequently re-written as per Donald Trump.  Agencies now spend their allotted budgets to do the bidding of Trump, rather than to meet the stated goals of their agencies. And the media are under attack daily by the bombastic ‘man’ sitting in the Oval Office.  What could go wrong?  Imagine, if you will, that Nielsen decided to actually run DHS in the proper way and said to Trump that no, the agency’s priority at this time is not to monitor the activities of journalists.  She would be out within a week, and a different sycophant would take her place.

According to ThinkProgress …

“One of the other points that DHS wants to be able to search is the ‘sentiment’ of a story. Was a writer’s take on events pro-America or not? Did a columnist write an op-ed that looked on President Trump’s latest policy trainwreck unfavorably?”

To which Tyler Q. Houlton, on behalf of DHS responded:

“Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists.”

Oh no, I don’t think so, Mr. Houlton.  When asked to clarify what, precisely, he meant by ‘standard practice’, he replied …

“You are embarrassing yourself with these questions and wild conspiracy theories. Just like you monitored the media to find this story, DHS does the same. Enjoy your weekend.”

Not a very professional response, if you ask me.  And remember that WE pay his salary.

I have long sensed that Trump took office believing that the entire federal government, including all its agencies, Congress and the Judiciary were his toys to play with and use as he wishes.  This is not the case, and for an agency to even be considering infringing on the 1st Amendment freedoms of press and free speech simply because not all of us admire him or choose to dance to his tune, is unconscionable.

Again … What could possibly go wrong?

49 thoughts on “A New Assault on Freedom of Press …

  1. It is absolutely deplorable to me that simply questioning the DHS constitutes a “conspiracy theory.”

    They are just fueling the narrative that being a skeptic is synonymous with being insane.

    Sad times 😦

    Like

    • I have had thoughts of Orwell’s 1984 since Trump took office … the 2nd day when Kellyanne, referring to the size of the inaugural ‘crowd’ referred to ‘alternative facts’. Newspeak anyone? And then when the EPA took all references to ‘climate change’ off of their website …

      Yes, sad times, and if we aren’t proactive quite soon, bound to get even sadder. 😨

      Like

  2. Dear Jill,

    I find this news to be very distressing. I may not make the DHS list for bloggers with influence. But this tells me that we need to encourage more bloggers who make their arguments based on verifiable facts versus the president’s lies which can be proven to be false.

    The most recent one is when the president’s says we have a trade deficit with China $500 billion dollars versus $375 billion dollars.

    The other is that there is a crisis on the US Southern border of immigrants entering the USA who are rapists and drug pushers to where he was forced to send up to 4,000 US national guardsmen to the area. The DHS secretary was complicit in this lie.

    As per a 4/7/18 Daily Beast report, “What exactly constitutes this “crisis” remains a mystery.”

    “Illegal immigration rates have been dropping steadily for more than a decade. And the rate of decline has further plummeted since Trump took office. Would-be migrants now fear harsh treatment and know that asylum is unlikely to be granted—conditions his supporters have boasted is the “Trump effect.” In fact, the five months between October of 2017 and February of 2018 saw arrests at the border drop by 27 percent since the year before.”

    “And while there was an uptick in border apprehensions in March of this year, those numbers are still in keeping with the overall decline since the mid-2000s. A Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) report from fiscal year 2017 indicated immigration was at its lowest rate in half a century. At least two CPB detention centers in Texas were shuttered last year, due to a lack of detainees to put in them”

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Like you, I think my blog is probably too small and perhaps insignificant, but frankly, I would welcome then coming to my door in their dark sunglasses! I write only the truth, as do you … not that anybody in this administration recognizes or respects truth. But it seems events and threats are escalating, and that worries me. The ones you named, but then tonight, after the FBI raided Cohen’s office, many are speculating that this will make Trump all the more determined to fire Rosenstein and put somebody in his place who will fire Mueller. THAT worries me more than anything. I really wish somebody would just do whatever is necessary to get rid of Trump. They would go down in history as a hero!
      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m not American and don’t know what to make of it, the cultural context being quite foreign to many of us here in the UK. Maybe it’s all part of a wider oppressive world domination attempt. By allowing freedom of speech it’s easier to identify and track potential threats from actually dangerous individuals. As long as any database isn’t used as a tool for US Homeland Security to pin blame on innocents at home or abroad for their own US Military / Intelligence Services cover-ups and atrocities made in the name of ‘art’ or ‘religion’ alike some events in our recent world histories. Of course, I’m not up to speed on most of the stuff of such things. Just how it seems possible…and maybe even quite likely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • the problem with DHS is that it DOES pin the blame on innocents far too frequently since Mr. Trump took over. The president’s screams about “fake news” when speaking of true journalism is anathema to us, and his listening to the propaganda of Fox news then ACTING upon the things he hears there are slowly destroying our freedoms…we are frankly terrified of his government as none of them know what they are doing and our Congress has abdicated their authority in the name of votes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes I feel some of those things in our UK news too. Quality of journalism here has gone so downhill while parrot-fashion repetition of propoganda seems rife. It’s just so obvious though with the language differences and it is scary for the obvious oppressive driving force behind why that seems to be happening. I was frankly terrified too around the lead into the elections and had to decide to ignore it all until the results were announced. But it doesn’t always appear to be the same person appearing as ‘the President’ in things I see or read over here. That’s concerning too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Part of the problem with the quality of journalism in both our countries is the profit factor. Media outlets are for-profit, and as the saying goes over here, “if it bleeds, it leads”. People like gore, controversy, etc., so the media give ’em what they ask for. I do believe that the more serious outlets, Reuters, BBC, Washington Post, New York Times, to name a few, do try hard to provide quality reporting, but sometimes important tidbits get buried on page 23! That’s why I use no less than 15-20 credible sources on any given day, and double/triple check my stories. Sometimes you just have to go digging. Sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

      • And it’s something that has been going on long before Trump and even before Obama and i’m not at all convinced that any individual president can be held solely responsible for those issues and they may even be priority issues they are trying to counteract. Hope these thoughts do not cause you or your readers offense.

        Liked by 1 person

        • No offense at all! We are all well aware of it … it has been going downhill for eons, as I said … the profit motive. BUT … what has changed dramatically in the last ten years are the garbage outlets like Fox and Breitbart, the acceptance by many of the Rush Limbaugh’s, Alex Jones’, Sean Hannity’s … and the wholly partisan and not always truthful internet venues. Plus, more people are perfectly content to get their news from Facebook or Twitter. I read this morning that when Trump won’t listen to his aides, they call Fox and suggest certain topics they want him to hear, because he watches Fox avidly and believes whatever he hears there. Sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

    • It appears that the intent is to identify those who speak against the current administration, but that, of course, is speculative based on the idea that they want to record the ‘sentiment’ and ‘tone’ of the stories they see. He has already threatened journalists, and CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) has expressed concerns for the past year or so, based on the rhetoric coming out of the White House. Just something we need to keep a close eye on, so we don’t wake up one morning and find ourselves watching the state-run television network and reading the state-controlled newspaper.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    How dare they, indeed? This is not the nation that I know ….
    ‘Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers
    Feel that chill creeping down your spine, my fellow-bloggers? Fellow citizens who still believe in the First Amendment? Journalist friends?’ …
    Where is the 1st amendment?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: A NEW ASSAULT ON FREEDOM OF PRESS … (Jill Dennison at Filosofa’s Word) | Impromptu Promptlings

  6. We are like the proverbial frog put in a pot of cold water then having the heat turned on. He can’t tell he’s about to be boiled to death. I’d say we’re right about at or near medium at the moment. Medium-high coming up. Someone please tell me the citizens of this country are NOT dumb enough to go down the same rabbit hole that Germany did!!! Lordy! There was a journalist in Germany who, on the day Hitler was made Chancellor, noted the event in one line in his day journal. The next sentence was much longer. It was about taking his son swimming. Years later he looked back at that journal and couldn’t believe he had let such an important and likely horrible event slip past him. Gave it no weight what-so-ever. What has to happen to wake people up??? (Sending this one around the world, Jill. Hope you don’t mind…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t mind at all! In fact, thank you very much for sharing it!

      I wish I could reassure you that the citizens of this country are smarter than the Germans were in 1933-34, but in truth, I cannot. In fact, I would say the opposite is true. Far too many in this nation do not understand the lessons of history, and as long as shiny objects are dangled in front of them, they see dreams of the future and are content to follow the Pied Piper … wherever he leads them. This is why I keep writing this blog … I may not reach many, but I think we all have to use our voices to at least try to enlighten the people.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jill, this is extremely troubling to see the freedom of the press attacked like this. With a President who is measured as lying more than two out of three times, his attacks on the media ring both unethical, unconstitutional and untrue. The editor of the New York Times called him on the carpet for attacking the Washington Post.

    With journalists getting jailed and killed around the world, we need to be supporting their efforts here and abroad. And, it is not surprising after Trump calls something fake news that it turns out to be true.

    All Americans need to be concerned with this effort including his followers, when they finally realize Trump to be as untruthful as the record shows. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, the freedom of the press is the last barrier to a dictatorship, and we cannot let it be attacked. Right now, the thing that troubles me most is that he has the support of the sycophants in Congress as well as some 37% of the people, and I’m not sure I trust Congress to apply the brakes if needs be. Trump seems to feel that he can ‘rule’ by signing executive orders, and so far there has been very little to convince him otherwise. I read this morning that since he is more likely to listen to Fox News than his advisors, the advisors sometimes call into Fox News and give them tips about what to report so that he will listen!

      Like

  8. I’m appalled, and thoroughly confused. How is it possible for one man to end up controlling so much of the machinery of the state? I mean, I understand about appointees favourable to Trump, but WHY is he in a position to hire and fire them in the first place?
    Honestly, if this is what all republics look like, I want Australia to remain a Westminster system where the Prime Minister can be replaced by his/her party if he/she becomes too uppity.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hey, ac, sure wish we could do that in Canada. Most of our Prime Ministers go on power trips once they are elected, and nobody seems to care. Our previous PM, Stephen Harper, ran his party, and the country, like he was king, just like Trump is now doing in the USA. Right wing political parties seem to specialize in that. The centrist Liberals, in Canada, seem to prefer to be mere princes in comparison. The left have, of course, never been in power nationally, because .the other parties have convinced our electorate they will destroy our way of life. Pure hogwash.
      But such are the ways of democracy…

      Liked by 1 person

        • He learned from his daddy, who was a true politician: Piss off as few people as possible, and smile no matter what.
          I think Justin is slowly crumbling under the pressure, but if he can rise up and learn from that maybe there is hope. Meanwhile, he needs his cabinet to stay away from any scandals, and that is not what any politician is good at. Only time will tell.
          Meanwhile, he is tiptoeing his way through the flower garden trying to avoid crushing anything. Good luck with that…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ah…I feel sorry for him. It was obvious that he had the charisma, and possibly the integrity we’re all looking for in a leader, but I didn’t realise his path would be so tough.
            Wouldn’t it be nice if just once, a good guy managed to do good things for the country without getting shot down in flames? Or having to play dirty politics simply to stay in power. 😦

            Liked by 1 person

    • Well, with the sycophants in Congress, his power — at least for the moment — goes almost unchecked. Even in your Parliamentary system, if all but a few MPs are licking the Prime Minister’s boots, they are not likely to give a vote of ‘no confidence’. Governments like ours work well as long as the people in the top positions have a genuine desire to govern with conscience. Once that is thrown out the window, and assuming there is a majority who support the leadership, they can live in hog heaven. For a while. Ultimately, they will be voted out of office and then the real fun begins. Sigh. This circus has gone on far too long … I wonder if the rates of suicide, drug addiction and alcoholism have increased?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, that’s true. Power in both houses always leads to a bad political situation. That’s one reason I bless all the Independents in ours. Neither major party is strong enough to ride roughshod over the parliament. They /have/ to get help from the Independents and that always means compromise. Of course it also means horse trading so….-sigh-

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, but remember, there is no perfect system and never will be, for we are humans. I would far rather live with the results of a bit of horse-trading and compromise than the corruption that is rampant here today. Sigh.

          Like

          • True. The Offspring and I were talking about forms of government today and the threat to democracy that we all face. We both agreed that having one party in control of both houses is always bad. Beyond that it’s cross your fingers and hope.

            Liked by 1 person

            • It is always bad, and especially if the head honcho is also of the same party, for they then feel that they can ignore us, being in total control. It is … frustrating, to say the least! And dangerous, for … too much power in the hands of one is a recipe for disaster, for autocracy without a peep from the peeps.

              Like

              • Yeah. I imagined that technology would make democracy more democratic by maybe letting us vote on ‘issues’ instead of just elections, but…it’s being used to make things even less democratic. 😦

                Liked by 1 person

                • Very much so. Technology in itself is neither bad nor good … it’s all in how you use it, and like most everything these days, people will find a way to use it to increase their own wealth. Greed seems to be the buzzword of the 21st century.

                  Like

                    • After a while, my friend, one becomes a bit jaded, I’m afraid. Oh, I will keep fighting the good fight as long as I draw breath, but I have no illusions that what I say or do makes any difference any more. It doesn’t mean I care any less, only that I am a realist.

                      Like

                    • Your voice, my voice, every little voice is part of a critical mass that will eventually bring about change. I know I’m a Pollyanna of the worst sort but the average American is now more awake than at any time since the Vietnam demonstrations. Trump has been a rude awakening but sometimes change only happens after a major crisis because humans can’t really learn from history. Only personal experience has the power to really move us. But at least people are being moved. That’s something.
                      -big hugs-

                      Liked by 1 person

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