FBI Terrorist List: Guilty by Association?

Writers of color share their concerns about privacy and surveillance.

Assata Shakur (YouTube)
Assata Shakur (YouTube)

“Let me put it this way,” began Salim Muwakkil, the veteran Chicago writer, in a Facebook posting Wednesday. “I’ve known Assata Shakur from the days when she was known as Joanne Chesimard.

“What’s more, while working as a journalist for the Associated Press, I covered the deadly encounter on the NJ Turnpike that resulted in her imprisonment. Thus, I have a rather specialized knowledge of her case. I consider her a victim rather than criminal and have written sympathetically about her plight.

Assata recently was placed on the FBI’s 10 most wanted terrorist list. Am I now considered a terrorist associate vulnerable to NSA targeting?” he continued, referring to the National Security Agency.

“With that security agency reportedly in possession of all my tele-communications’ contacts, can they now be data mined for any ‘incriminating’ evidence[?] What about those hundreds of people on my contact lists? Are they similarly implicated in associating with someone who once associated with someone now deemed a terrorist? These are not just idle questions and point to the real threat of a national security state.”

As more information about the extent of government surveillance surfaces, others are sharing similar concerns. Last week, the Poynter Institute published “6 ways journalists can keep their reporting materials private & off-the-record” by Beth Winegarner.

Among Winegarner’s suggestions: “Get old school.” “Run your own mail server.” “Encrypt or go anonymous.” “Don’t keep anything online.” “Stay off the phone.” “Consult a lawyer.” She referred readers to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense site, created “to educate the American public about the law and technology of government surveillance in the United States, providing the information and tools necessary to evaluate the threat of surveillance and take appropriate steps to defend against it.”

Meanwhile, the conversation about Edward Snowden, the former employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton whose leak of NSA documents has dominated the headlines all week, turned to whether he should be considered a hero or a traitor.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden told reporter Lana Lam: “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.

David Simon, creator of television’s “The Wire” and a former Baltimore Sun reporter, did not think Snowden disclosed much new. Simon wrote on his blog, “Having labored as a police reporter in the days before the Patriot Act, I can assure all there has always been a stage before the wiretap, a preliminary process involving the capture, retention and analysis of raw data. It has been so for decades now in this country. The only thing new here, from a legal standpoint, is the scale on which the FBI and NSA are apparently attempting to cull anti-terrorism leads from that data. But the legal and moral principles? Same old stuff. . . .”

Clarence Page, syndicated Chicago Tribune columnist, agreed. “The NSA phone sweeps are a large-scale version of police tracking the calls — but not content — on pay phones (remember those?) that were frequented by drug dealers. As a character on ‘The Wire’ used to say, ‘Things change but the game stays the same.’

“Those who fear constitutional breaches should first read the Constitution. It is not biblical scripture. It is often conditional, as in the Fourth Amendment’s protections against ‘unreasonable searches.’ The 10 Commandments, by contrast, do not permit ‘reasonable adultery.’ . . .”

Leonard Pitts Jr., the syndicated Miami Herald columnist, took the opposing view. “If ever tyranny overtakes this land of the sometimes free and home of the intermittently brave, it probably won’t, contrary to the fever dreams of gun rights extremists, involve jack-booted government thugs rappelling down from black helicopters,” he wrote. “Rather, it will involve changes to words on paper many have forgotten or never knew, changes that chip away until they strip away, precious American freedoms.

“It will involve a trade of sorts, an inducement to give up the reality of freedom for the illusion of security. Indeed, the bargain has already been struck. . . .”

Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio: Big Brother Phone Surveillance (podcast)

David Bauder, Associated Press: Media: No mistaking how NSA story reporter feels

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: The convenient [Constitution].

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Edward Snowden isn’t exactly a hero

Irin Carmon, Salon: How we broke the NSA story

Editorial, USA Today: NSA whistle-blower hero or villain? Our view

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Pundits vs. Edward Snowden

Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report: Rep. Clyburn: Putting Obama First – Civil Liberties, Peace, Justice, and Reality Last

Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: Blowing a Whistle

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, “Democracy Now!”: Is Edward Snowden a Hero? A Debate with Journalist Chris Hedges & Law Scholar Geoffrey Stone

The Grio: Little backlash against Obama from Congress, public on controversial surveillance programs

Nikolas Kozloff, Al Jazeera: Edward Snowden and Washington’s revolving-door culture

Howard Kurtz, CNN: Leakers seek out advocacy journalists

Andrew Leonard, Salon: Edward Snowden: A libertarian hero

Julianne Malveaux, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Is ‘Big Brother’ racially biased?

Dylan Matthews, Washington Post: No, Edward Snowden probably didn’t commit treason

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: NSA’s intrusions are quite a wake-up call

Mark Trahant, Indian Country Today Media Network: Indian Country’s Data Scandal: Invisibility

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: CNN coverage on ground floor of IRS scandal!

DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: U.S.-China cyber spying not a big surprise

Armstrong Williams blog: Privacy [Concerns] (via Facebook) 

Magazines’ “New Golden Age” Looks Like the Pale Old Age

An upscale men’s magazine decided to praise [its] favorite magazine editors’ work, declaring boldly a ‘New Golden Age’ on its cover,” Connor Simpson wrote Tuesday for the Atlantic Wire. “Except there’s one small diversity problem: all the editors basking in this new golden age are white dudes. . . .”

Simpson noted that for its efforts, “Port is getting taken to task on Twitter and other realms of the Internet. ‘Don’t you buncha jerks dare forget about the relevance of white men at legacy brands!’ said Gawker’s Cord Jefferson. “The ‘new golden age of publishing’ only features white men, obvi,” added [BuzzFeed’s] Rosie Gray. ‘Hey [Port magazine], you don’t admire a single lady magazine editor?’ wondered Spry’s Katie Neal. ‘If I’d known all it took to make a Golden Age was a bunch of white dudes in suits I’d’ve started one a long time ago,’ chimed another. It was posted to the 100 Percent Men tumblr real quick. ‘So, based on the makeup of Crowe’s expert panel, are we meant to conclude that white men are the future of magazines?’ Salon’s Katie McDonough asks,” Simpson continued, referring to Port magazine editor-in-chief Dan Crowe.

” ‘In which case, shouldn’t Port re-title its feature to something like “a new pale, male age” of magazines or something more descriptive of its content?’ That doesn’t seem like a half bad idea. And so on and so on the outrage train went. . . .”

Ruth Franklin blog: An open letter to a few good magazine editors; or, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore”

Soledad O’Brien to Join “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel”

Soledad O’Brien has inked an overall content development deal with HBO and also will join the network’s award-winning sports journalism program Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Marisa Guthrie reported Wednesday for the Hollywood Reporter. “The deal lets HBO have first look at scripted projects and long-form programming concepts developed by O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group.

“O’Brien’s first piece is about an innovative regimen at a San Diego fight club that helps veterans combat mental illness and PTSD. It will air on the June 25 edition of Real Sports.

“Real Sports” airs monthly. Guthrie added, “O’Brien left CNN earlier this year after incoming CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker set about revamping the network’s ill-fated morning show, which O’Brien had been hosting. At CNN, she was responsible for the Black in America and Latino in America franchises. A graduate of Harvard University, she will serve as a visiting fellow for the 2013-14 school year at the university’s Graduate School of Education.”

Rosa Flores, Baton Rouge Anchor, Joins CNN

CNN has named Rosa Flores as correspondent, it was announced today by Terence Burke, Vice President of Newsgathering for CNN/U.S. She will start in July and will be based in New York City,” CNN said on Wednesday.

The announcement added, “In addition to her role as correspondent Flores will serve as substitute anchor.

“Throughout her career Flores covered a variety of national, state and local stories. Before joining CNN, she anchored the late afternoon newscast at WBRZ, the ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge. . . .”

CNN President Jeff Zucker was criticized by leaders of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists after his failure to include journalists of color among his first few appointments.

Alex Weprin, TVNewser: CNN Targeting Younger Viewers To Attract New Advertisers

Trahant Appointed Journalism Chair at U. of Alaska

Journalist Mark Trahant will serve as the 20th Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The position brings nationally known journalists to teach courses and speak to students, journalists and the public in Alaska,” the university announced on Tuesday.

“Trahant is the former editor of the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where he chaired the daily editorial board, directed a staff of writers, editors and a cartoonist. He [is] chairman and chief executive officer at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and a former columnist at The Seattle Times. He has been publisher of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in Moscow, Idaho; executive news editor of The Salt Lake Tribune; a reporter at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix; and has worked at several tribal newspapers. . . . “