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HR2278: A Threat to Freedom of the Press

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Petition Defend Freedom of the Press, HR 2278 is a Threat to US Without fanfare or publicity, the House of Representatives passed a bill to inhibit freedom of the press and other views from reaching American audiences. H.R. 2278 passed in December, 2009, by a margin of 395 to 3 votes. The bill potentially impacts the operation of predominantly Arabic-based electronic media in America. Those immediately affected are satellite carriers Nilesat and Arabsat. The former is owned and operated by the Egyptian government; the latter by the League of Arab States. The bill’s authors and ostensible sponsors demonstrated proclivity to demonize the Arabs and Muslims at large; this bill is based on new language of deception, hatred and prohibition. It is punctuated by a new phraseology “incitement of violence against American citizens,” to selectively exclude certain media outlets critical of U.S. foreign policy parameters and its support for perpetuating the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While the proposed bill would target news organizations that allegedly promote anti-American "violence", there is no clear proposed definition of what "anti-American" actually means, nor is there any reference to the violence and destruction committed by U.S. allies in the region. This new language, however, is believed by many lawyers and the Center for Constitutional Rights, based in New York, to be too broad to constitute a legal basis for prosecution. More importantly, the signatories to International Law recognize that no country, signatory to the fundamental law, can legislate outside its national borders – extrajudicial legislation. This view is not of concern to the US-Israel lobby since its goals are not judicial prosecutions but rather intimidation-- of more than 600 channels operating in 19 Arab countries. HR 2278 legislation reflects the growing aggressiveness on the part of pro-Israel constituents in the United States who fear that American minds will be contaminated if exposed to opposing views broadcast on non-US media outlets in the Middle East, like Al Manar television. Suffice it to say that a fundamental component of the Israeli lobby in Washington, Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), proudly says on its website that its research was used in the writing of the bill. Members of the U.S. House Representatives cheerfully accepted and signed on the MEMRI claims without challenge or substantiation. MEMRI’s appalling claims, against Al Manar, were shattered by scholars’ meticulous examination. A decade old investigation by Prof. Anne Marie Baylouny, Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, suggests that there is no evidence in any Al Manar programming, as claimed by MEMRI and AIPAC of “bomb making classes.” Freedom of the press is fundamental to any democratic form of government. Likewise, our personal freedoms must allow us to embrace, or reject, the views inherent in our television news consumption. Any attempt to truncate this freedom in the name of "political correctness" must be vigorously opposed and rejected, not only to save our press freedoms, but to insure that the news we receive from around the world is not subject to censorship or control. Let us join hands in publicizing this nefarious threat to our freedom of choice, and urge the media outlets to focus on its unprecedented language of extrajudicial exclusiveness- in contrast to the provisions of International Law, of which the U.S. is a signatory, that prohibit nations from legislating outside their national borders. Calling those who voted for the bill to register disdain for their attempts to limit the freedom of the press should be done judiciously. Individuals and organizations in agreement with this petition are encouraged to sign and publicize it.

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