Freedom drops drastically in the USA (Reporters without Borders)

Originally published 10/26/06:

Reporters without Borders has put out its annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2006.  The US has fallen from 17th on the list in 2002, to #53 this year.  Reasons given for this precipitous decline are as follows:

The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

I would add that our bombing of Al Jazeera in Afganistan and Bagdad, plus Bush’s threat via Downing Street to bomb Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar, would be another reason for a decline in freedom of press.  Of course then there’s the fake press releases prepared by US PR firms at the behest of the Bush administration and disseminated in the middle east for a price.

The questions in the questionaire used for compiling the data can be found at:

I’m not entirely happy with these results though.  I have got to think that Haiti’s situation for the press should have been worse in the last 2 years than it was before Aristide was booted.  I also have doubts about Venezuela’s low ranking. 


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