Over the weekend I drove to Ohio (and back), affording me plenty of time to catch up on past episodes of Fresh Air, Science Friday and other podcasts. During one of the Fresh Air episodes, I heard the most astonishing thing.
On the Jan. 11 episode, Dave Davies interviewed Matthew Aid, the author of a book titled “Intel Wars: The Secret History of The Fight Against Terror.” The book looks at the intelligence apparatus in the United States in the years since Sept. 11, 2001.
The interview was interesting enough, but toward the end, the guest said something astonishing:
MATTHEW AID: Well I have, first of all, I’m not a reporter so I have no First Amendment protections, and so I have to be very, very careful. I have to self-censor because, you know, obviously it goes without saying that the worst thing that could possibly happen to me is to get a knock on the door and a pair of FBI agents are standing there in the doorway. So I tried to be very careful. I kept a lot of material out of the book that dealt with ongoing operations, particularly those of a technical nature – which, you know, if I was to say or write anything about them, you know, could cause harm to national security.
Hearing this was startling and sad. Reporters have no special privilege in the U.S. The First Amendment applies to everyone equally. Furthermore, the First Amendment protections are much stronger than what Aid suggests, as explained by the First Amendment Center.
It was especially disappointing that Dave Davies, who should know better, didn’t correct this misstatement.
Why does it matter? Because people need to know their rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.