Free press crucial to our democracy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

One element of Operation Iraqi Freedom is moving too quickly for the Bush administration – freedom of the press. Both the U.S. State Department and commanders of U.S. occupation forces in Iraq are scurrying to come up with rules for the proliferation of media suddenly blossoming in the absence of Saddam Hussein’s reign of censorship and repression.

Vehicles of news and opinion, and, apparently, more of the latter, are popping up everywhere, and much of the opinion is apparently critical of the United States and its occupying troops.

There are calls for resistance, even violence. There are statements that spokesmen for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority say are likely to incite “violence or ethnic or racial hatred.” …

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But what sort of democracy can the Iraqis build without a free press? …

Those shepherding this new democracy would do well to consult one who helped birth another one more than 200 years ago. In the Virginia Bill of Rights, a model for Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, George Mason wrote that freedom of the press &uot;can never be restrained but by despotic governments.”

– Seattle Post-Intelligencer