Farewell, First Amendment

The U.S. government has failed in enforcing free press rights across the world.

The repercussions of the war on terrorism have not only included a damaged U.S. reputation abroad because of this nationâÄôs circumvention of domestic rights enshrined in the Constitution. Perhaps a more serious repercussion was the loss in political and moral capital afforded to the United States to enforce those rights abroad. This is especially apparent when one considers damages to the free press across the world. For the past eight years, the United States has been allying with oppressive regimes in the name of chasing a ubiquitous term called terrorism while ignoring free press violations on behalf of those regimes. For instance, because of an intelligence-sharing deal the United States has with Yemen, former President George W. Bush proposed to double our fiscal year 2009 funding to that country from the previous year, approximately $33.8 million. Yet that same regime has rarely been friendly to a free and open press. Just recently, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Yemenis government officials seized thousands of copies of Al-Ayyam, an independent paper there which dared to cover an ongoing conflict in the countryâÄôs southern region. And more journalists are being executed across the globe: In 2002, the number of executions was 25, according to Reporters without Borders. That number spiked to 87 in 2007 and dropped to 60 last year. Citizens everywhere should be alarmed; as regional conflicts and economic problems turn global, our ability to properly report those problems should follow. But no fear, the U.S. government is on the job. Six U.S. senators recently spearheaded a brave bipartisan resolution acknowledging threats to the free press abroad and reaffirming the United StatesâÄô commitment to promoting this essential right globally on May 1, World Press Freedom Day. Ha. The United States will continue to remain silent on ChinaâÄôs oppression and U.S. journalists remain detained by Iran and North Korea. When traveling abroad, bode farewell to the First.