A beleaguered right

A recent report published by the U.S. ArmyâÄôs 304 Military Intelligence Battalion labeled Twitter, the social networking and microblogging service, a âÄúpotential tool for terrorists.âÄù Street protesters used Twitter at the Republican National Convention earlier this year to organize movements and to communicate the location of police with the purpose of eluding them. This sort of organized elusion is legal, but it has some in the law enforcement and military community concerned. The report cited this use as an example of how terrorists could employ the technology, but any security bureaucrats whose eyebrows peaked at this report best take it lightly. It goes on to describe TwitterâÄôs users as âÄúsocialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others âĦ âÄú (a vast vegetarian insurrection looms). The report also states that âÄúTwitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives.âÄù That an Army publication associates Twitter with political, activist and religious groups is alarming, and perhaps a step in the direction of chilling the speech of those groups. We hold that any tool that enhances political dissent âÄî especially amid heightened security threats âÄî strengthens the nationâÄôs market of ideas through revelation of those ideas. To be sure, the report proposed no governmental oversight with respect to Twitter. LetâÄôs see to it that it stays that way. As Justice Hugo Black eloquently dissented in Dennis v. United States, a 1951 ruling during the red scare, âÄúThe First Amendment makes confidence in the common sense of our people and in their maturity of judgment the great postulate of democracy.âÄù Twitter represents a great boon to our democracy, unless we fear our country to be so weak as to be threatened by a technological advancement that will progress the ConstitutionâÄôs most basic yet paradoxically beleaguered rights.