When Tyranny Is Okay With the United States
by Cate Regan
Thomas Jefferson once said that “the only security of all is in a free press,” and that the public “cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed.” Now, I would consider Jefferson to have been an expert of the democratic process, but apparently I am quite mistaken.
Three journalists from Al Jazeera were detained today in Egypt.
“Egyptian authorities [are] detaining reporters and gangs of young men [are] roaming the streets looking for anyone with camera equipment,” a producer of Al Jazeera explained. “Spotters stand outside many hotels, watching balconies with high-powered binoculars. When they see balconies with camera equipment or photographers, they use radios to call in the details.”
The producer added that those details have been used in raids on journalists. The Washington Post reported that its Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel as well as photographer Linda Davidson and an interpreter were also arrested. And, according to the Post, two reporters for the New York Times were jailed but released. Human Rights Watch said that Dan Williams, a former journalist and current HRW staffer, was taken into custody, along with several other human rights activists.
I’m not talking about Myanmar or Iran. This is Egypt, a country that the US and Israeli governments have hailed as one of their strongest allies in the Arab world. A country to which we send $1.3 billion in military aid, aid used to buy those neat teargas canisters chucked into the streets of Egypt during the pro-democratic demonstrations.
The Obama administration’s language on Egypt has gotten stronger since the protests began on January 25th, but I’m not sure it’s strong enough. And yes, I know that Mubarak’s Egypt has been a friend to Israel. I know his title is President. But that doesn’t justify the overwhelming censorship of journalists in Egypt and the peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square and beyond.
Just because the guy calls himself a president doesn’t mean that he is a democratic leader. That would be like saying, “Cate calls herself a progressive, so she must be good about turning off her bedroom lights.” I can be forgetful, and Mubarak can be a tyrannical fiend.
Clearly we don’t mind tyranny so long as it scratches Uncle Sam’s back.Click here for reuse options!
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