The events on September 11th paralyzed all of us with fear last year. We grappled with anguish and searched for ways to safeguard our society from future attacks. When Congress enacted the U.S. Patriot Act, nobody dared to question it. And when the Department of Justice announced new guidelines that give FBI agents the freedom to monitor Internet sites and libraries, few people dared to question it.
Many Americans are not aware of the freedoms they have surrendered in the name of “homeland security.” But as members of the press, we know all to well. We know that our beloved First Amendment that we’ve fought so hard to preserve is increasingly being sacrificed as the war on terrorism continues.
We do not wish to jeopardize society by disclosing our nation’s top-secret information. But we also do not believe that the actions of our government should be shrouded in secrecy. Fear should not undermine freedom. A free press is the soul of a democratic society. An ignorant society is not safer from attack than an informed society. When the government oversteps its right to shield information from the public it is up to us to speak up.
Changes in freedom of information laws are threatening the basic bloodline of our country’s free press. As students we need to rigorously defend the First Amendment and fight for our rights to information. The freedoms afforded to us by the First Amendment are fundamental rights that should never be sacrificed, especially not in time of war.