Suppression of News in the United States and Political
Statements and Documents Prevented from Reaching the People
It is true that the United States generally allows a relatively greater freedom of speech and freedom of the press than many other countries. But only in the sense that there is usually less suppression of publications and ideas here through laws and government force than in many other countries. The reason for this is that the U.S. ruling class has come close to perfecting the suppression of ideas it disapproves of through an alternative method; that is, through its control of the economic system and its nearly total control of the media and means of communication and education in the country. Thus, individuals can usually say what they like even if it goes against the interests and desires of the capitalist class, but still only on the condition enforced by the capitalist ownership and control of the media, that very few other people will ever get a chance to hear what the dissenters have to say. It is the genius of this evil system that it still effectively silences most dissent while loudly proclaiming the supposed freedoms of speech and the press!
However, whenever the ruling class does feel seriously threatened by information and ideas that go against its interests, it does not shrink from forcible suppression, no matter what its Constitution says about the freedom of speech and of the press. Thus during World War I, the government closed down antiwar newspapers and magazines, and locked up socialists and others (including the prominent labor leader Eugene V. Debs) who opposed the U.S. participation in that inter-imperialist war. After the war and the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the American bourgeoisie instituted the Palmer Raids and a “Red Scare”, in which many socialist publications were closed down and many socialists arrested. Similarly, during the McCarthy era (late 1940s and 1950s) a new round of suppression was carried out against the so-called Communist Party USA, and its leaders, even though that party had become only a reformist party and was no longer even a revolutionary party at all! And in the late 1960s and 1970s the U.S. government used “dirty tricks” and secret programs like COINTELPRO to harrass and try to destroy organizations and publications that it disliked, and the Black Panther Party in particular. The plain fact is that the U.S. ruling class stands ready to hypocritically suppress information and ideas whenever it feels a strong need to do so.
Furthermore, even during periods of more open bourgeois democracy, there are always some examples of the forcible suppression of information and ideas in the U.S. Much of the workings of the U.S. government, both within the country and overseas, are labelled “top secret”, for example, and it is made illegal for anyone to let the public know what their “own” (supposedly!) government is really up to.
At the present time the U.S. Justice Department (so-called!) is attempting to intimidate, and even arrest and jail, some of those who engage in purely verbal support work for people’s struggles against injustice around the world. Their excuse is that free speech must be suppressed in order to fight “terrorism” (and of course any political movement that the U.S. rulers dislike is easily labelled “terrorism” by them). The irony that the U.S. government itself is by far the biggest terrorist force in the world today is completely lost on them.
Specifically, the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court have recently decided that any speech, no matter how peaceful and opposed to violence, is not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution (which supposedly “guarantees” free speech) under these conditions:
“…last June in Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project [the Supreme Court] decided that non-violent First Amendment speech and advocacy ‘coordinated with’ or ‘under the direction of’ a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as ‘terrorist’ was a crime.”
“In 1996, Congress made it a crime then punishable by 10 years, later increased to 15 years, to anyone in the U.S. who provides “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization or attempts or conspires to do so.” The present statute defines “material support or resources” as:
‘any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial services, lodging training, expert advice or assistance, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel and transportation except medicine or religious materials.’”
—Michael Deutsch, “U.S. Justice Department Prepares for the Ominous Expansion of Law Prohibiting ‘Material Support’ for Terrorism”, posted in full below.
— NOTICE —
While we at BANNEDTHOUGHT.NET find these U.S. laws outrageous and hypocritical violations of free speech, we ourselves are in no way violating them. For the record, we want to make it absolutely clear that we are not under the direction of any foreign (or domestic!) organization whatsoever; we have no connections whatsoever with any other organization; and we in no way “coordinate” our work and postings here with any other organization or individual. We receive a large number of materials from a great many sources, and pick and choose what to post entirely by ourselves. In most cases we have no idea who the people sending us materials are, or what their own political ideas and beliefs are. And in no case are we acting in their behalf. We do not aid, promote, assist, support, or provide any sort of services or advice to any other organization or individual. Our efforts on BANNEDTHOUGHT.NET are entirely devoted to promoting free speech in the U.S. and around the world, and in posting news items and documents which are suppressed elsewhere.
Another area where the U.S. government is especially uneasy about the free flow of information and ideas is the Internet. While big capitalist corporations largely dominate the Internet too, there are openings here and there where groups and individuals opposed to capitalism and/or U.S. imperialism have their say. (We are proud that BANNEDTHOUGHT.NET is one of these!) It worries the bourgeoisie that they do not have absolute 100% control over the Internet, and sometimes even at the present time they try to, or succeed in suppressing some of these web sites or in forcing the removal of information from them.
We at BANNEDTHOUGHT.NET will try to help break down this government and media news embargo, and to expose and criticize all government attempts to suppress progressive or revolutionary information and ideas.
If you know of other suppressed documents and news reports that should be posted here, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
General Attacks on Free Speech by the United States Government
- “U.S. Justice Department Prepares for the Ominous Expansion of Law Prohibiting ‘Material Support’ for Terrorism”, by Michael Deutsch, People’s Law Office, November 2010, 3 pages. PDF Version (147 KB); MS Word (66 KB)
Suppression (or Attempted Suppression) of Information on the Internet
- “Free Speech and the Internet”, editorial in the New York Times (July 3, 2011), admitting that free speech on the Internet is being restricted not only by what they acknowledge are blatantly oppressive regimes but also by “democracies” [i.e., bourgeois democracies], including the U.S. Also links to a UN report on restrictions of free speech on the Internet around the world. PDF Version (67 KB); MS Word (32 KB)
WikiLeaks: WikiLeaks is an international organization which tries to keep governments and corporations from hiding or suppressing information about their wrong-doings and misdeeds. Whistle-blowers send documents to WikiLeaks for their public posting. Of course the governments and companies thus exposed hate this and attempt to stop it.
- “The Secret War between WikiLeaks and the Pentagon (and some media outlets)”, by Danny Schechter, originally on Al Jazeera, Oct. 25, 2010, 4 pages. This article also criticizes the New York Times coverage (see item below) of the massive exposure by WikiLeaks of nearly 400,000 secret field reports by the U.S. military during its imperialist war in Iraq. PDF Version (143 KB); MS Word (44 KB)
- “The Iraq Archive: The Strands of War”, New York Times, Oct. 22, 2010, 2 pages. Brief and dismissive summary of the massive exposure by WikiLeaks of nearly 400,000 secret field reports by the U.S. military during its imperialist war in Iraq. Although these reports were of course still from the point of view of U.S. imperialism, they nevertheless did not want either the U.S. public or the world to know about them. PDF Version (75 KB); MS Word (36 KB)
- “A Grim Portrait of Civilian Deaths in Iraq”, New York Times, Oct. 22, 2010, 3 pages. Based on secret U.S. military field reports exposed by WikiLeaks. PDF Version (105 KB); MS Word (143 KB)
- “U.S. Military Scrutinizes Leaks for Risks to Afghans”, New York Times, July 28, 2010, 3 pages. An article expressing concern that Afghans who cooperate with U.S. imperialism in Afghanistan may find themselves at risk because of leaks of U.S. documents to the press, and giving further information about possible U.S. legal and other efforts to stop such leaks and to suppress information on the Internet. PDF Version (83 KB); MS Word (40 KB)
- “Afghanistan War Logs: WikiLeaks Founder Rebuts White House Criticism”, the Guardian [England], July 26, 2010, 3 pages. PDF Version (87 KB); MS Word (43 KB)
- “U.S. Intelligence Planned to Destroy WikiLeaks”, a one page WikiLeaks summary of a 32-page U.S. intelligence document, posted March 18, 2008. The full document is available from the linked to WikiLeaks page. PDF Version (8 KB); MS Word (29 KB)
- “Political Prisoners in America”, by Stephen Lendman, Countercurrents.org, Aug. 9, 2010, 7 pages. This article also provides an overview of the history of repressive legislation in the U.S. PDF Version (78 KB); MS Word (42 KB)
Social Problems in the United States
- “The Opium Trail: Heroin and Imperialism”, 2nd edition, by a collective study group supported by the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, which included Pat Haseltine, Jerry Meldon, Charles Knight, Mark Selden, Rod Aya, Henry Norr, and Mara. (New England Free Press: April 1972), 92 pages. Searchable PDF Version (10,340 KB)
Other Situations and Materials
- [To be added.]
Communist Party, U.S.A. — Documents and Publications
Revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A. — Documents and Publications
Revolutionary Workers Headquarters organization — Documents and Publications
Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO/OSCL) — Documents and Publications
Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO FightBack!) — Documents and Publications [To be added.]
Kasama Project — Documents and Publications
BANNEDTHOUGHT.NET Home Page