Republicans for muzzling speech

by Walter Olson on June 12, 2013

Friends of liberty? Not exactly:

Sen. Lindsey Graham would propose censoring Americans’ “snail” mail if he thought it would help protect national security, the South Carolina Republican said Tuesday. But for now, he says he doesn’t think it’s necessary.

“For now.” Nice. And Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wants to prosecute reporters who publish leaked material. Meanwhile, say what you will about Glenn Greenwald, he’s willing to call out by name some “principle-free, hackish, and opportunistic” media lefties whose views on surveillance and civil liberties have proved malleable.

P.S., a reminder: Rep. Peter King made his name as an apologist for unspeakable IRA terrorism [Riggs]

{ 7 comments }

1 John Fembup 06.12.13 at 12:48 pm

“Graham pointed to a World War II-era program in which the federal government censored mail. . . In World War II, the mentality of the public was that our whole way of life was at risk, we’re all in. ”

Maybe – and provided that our whole way of life is truly at risk.

Somehow, this brings to mind the WWII-era military censors in “Catch-22″ who amused themselves by blotting out every word in soldiers’ letters home except “a,” “an,” and “the.”

2 Conor McCartney 06.12.13 at 3:38 pm

Soldiers swear to protect the constitution and I admire them for their service and bravery. But if we keep chipping away at it bit by bit will it be worth defending in the near future?

3 John Burgess 06.12.13 at 5:33 pm

I swear, I want a 10-question exam on the Constitution required of all candidates for elective office. If you don’t get 10/10, you’re ineligible for election.

Yes, it’ll take a constitutional amendment to make that happen. There, you’ve already got one of the 10 answers you’ll need.

4 John Rohan 06.12.13 at 6:02 pm

I do wonder if the WWII era Office of Censorship (yes, that was its actual name) could ever be revived today even if we were facing the same gravity of threat as we were at that time.

5 En Passant 06.13.13 at 5:21 pm

Only one person, Velvalee Dickinson, was prosecuted for spying for Japan during WWII. She used clumsy steganography, essentially jargon code, to communicate in letters she posted through ordinary mail to her contact in Argentina.

She was not caught by the Office of Censorship. Her letters sailed right through.

She was caught because her contact moved and some letters were returned to the return addresses she used. The parties to whom the letters were returned thought they were suspicious, and contacted the FBI.

So much for the value of government mail reading.

If you want a citation, start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvalee_Dickinson

6 En Passant 06.13.13 at 5:42 pm

Minor correction: One letter was caught by the Office of Censorship, for which the FBI opened an investigation.

But whether that one letter would have led to Velvalee, or would have resulted in conviction, is conjecture. I’ll agree with the possibility that it could have, though I think the probability would have been very small.

On the other hand, the returned letters and the complaints by those who received them cinched both detection and conviction.

7 Ron Miller 06.13.13 at 6:50 pm

I think the idea that the problem is that these guys just don’t know what is in the Constitution is silly. People interpret the Constitution very differently. I don’t even like Lindsey Graham but I’m taking him in a “knows his Constitution” over 98% of the people in this country.

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