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In defense of Newt Gingrich
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I was disturbed this morning to read that Newt Gingrich had said "the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism". It didn't sound like something Newt Gingrich would say; in fact, it didn't make much sense at all. Free speech hasn't exactly been our Achilles Heel in the war on terror.
it didn't make much sense at all. Free speech hasn't exactly been our Achilles Heel in the war on terror
Then I began to wonder exactly what he said — because the article which made the claim provided no quote, and no context to explain what he allegedly meant by "reexamine freedom of speech". A New York Sun article gave quotes, but still couldn't resist editorializing by calling it a proposal "that free speech may have to be curtailed".

So, what was this assault on the First Amendment? I've been checking Gingrich's website throughout the day to find out. Well, they've put up the text and video of the speech, and here's the relevant passage. (I'll highlight the bits that critics are leaving out)
This is a serious long term war, and it will enviably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear of biological weapons.

And, my prediction to you is that ether before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us.

This is a serious problem that will lead to a serious debate about the first amendment, but I think that the national security threat of losing an American city to a nuclear weapon, or losing several million Americans to a biological attack is so real that we need to proactively, now, develop the appropriate rules of engagement.
It's hard to disagree with his basic assertion that we should intervene to prevent terrorists from inciting, recruiting and conspiring to commit terrorism
Now, this is somewhat vague, so I'll certainly withhold final judgment until I see what he actually proposes, but as I read it, this isn't really about limiting freedom of speech; it's about how we cope with the people who use that freedom of speech to conspire to incite or conduct terrorism against the United States. That pretty clearly refers to what we already regard as criminal speech, or at least the yell-fire-in-a-crowded-theater exception to the 1st Amendment.

Now, maybe Newt has some plans in mind that might be objectionable, but this speech doesn't really indicate that. It's hard to disagree with his basic assertion that we should intervene to prevent terrorists from inciting, recruiting and conspiring to commit terrorism against the United States, or that we should have a clear set of "rules of engagement" when dealing with the terrorist coordination that occurs online.

It's a bit hard to understand why the media couldn't simply have reported what Gingrich said, rather than editorializing about what they thought he meant. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have accepted the mischaracterization. Among them, naturally, was Keith Olbermann, who suggested Gingrich wanted to "destroy freedom of speech". Olbermann — who traffics in self-righteous outrage like Bill O'Reilly traffics in...well, self-righteous outrage — hasn't been this upset since this morning when he issued a Special Comment denouncing his frosted flakes. He was due.
[Olbermann] hasn't been this upset since this morning when he issued a Special Comment denouncing his frosted flakes. He was due.
In any event, absent some specific, objectionable proposal from Newt Gingrich, it seems to me that he simply made the uncontroversial point that we ought to have a policy to shut down the recruiting for, planning and incitement of, terror operations being conducted on the internet around the world. I'd be curious to hear these critics make an argument that we shouldn't do something about that.
 
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Hey, John, to your credit, I also read only the editoralized version of newt’s speech, and the full text may in fact be more ambiguous than the characterizations. I find most of the media second-guessing around the blogosphere to be hyperbolic and manipulative, but I think you’ve changed my perception of the speech and informed me more fully than the paper in this case, without delving into the Evil Leftist Plot to Destroy Newt Gingrich.

In defense of the MSM, though, I would point out this except -

This is a serious long term war, and it will enviably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous,

and

to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech

I think a civil libertarian could and should legitimately be concerned about the drift of these remarks. Isn’t it enough to be able to identify the website owners, monitor them, find out if they’re terrorists, and then rather effortlessly arrest them and shut down their website? Don’t we do that already? So if Gingrich is talking about *more*, than what exactly is he talking about? Shutting down websites that seem to have speech that someone considers dangerous *without* evidence of connections to actual violent acts?

That’s a free speech threat if I ever heard one.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
It seems like the government would have a legitimate interest in monitoring websites that are involved in "recruiting for, planning and incitement of, terror operations", but I don’t think it makes sense to close them down. Wouldn’t that just drive these activities further underground to a place where they could no longer be monitored?

Of all the preparations that should be undertaken in anticipation of an apocalyptic terrorist attack, curtailing free speech would seem to be pretty far down the list of priorities. I wonder why Newt is stirring this particular pot?
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
I think a civil libertarian could and should legitimately be concerned about the drift of these remarks.
Oh, I’ll be happy to criticize any specific proposals that go over the line. However, I think the point of those remarks was that we need to be able to disrupt their websites/free speech because the content of it is criminal. Plotting terrorism is an actionable crime, not a question of free speech.
Wouldn’t that just drive these activities further underground to a place where they could no longer be monitored?
Perhaps. Obviously, any such policy would have to be careful to make smart cost/benefit calculations.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
it’s about how we cope with the people who use that freedom of speech to conspire to incite or conduct terrorism against the United States. That pretty clearly refers to what we already regard as criminal speech, or at least the yell-fire-in-a-crowded-theater exception to the 1st Amendment.
From a constititional standpoint, which is what Gingrich is talking about (after all, he was talking at a tribute to crusdaers for the First Amendment), we figured this out a long time ago. Just read Schenck Whitney and Brandenberg. You make laws that comply with these cases, and you don’t make laws that don’t. Simple.

Gingrich has always struck me as someone who is assumed to be bright, but who doesn’t really know what the hell he is talking about. This issue has already been examined and decided by minds far superior to his. Worse, like most winguts, he thinks he is living in a special age, one where the lessons of history have no direct bearing. And this coming from someone who styles himself as a historian.

I would bet a nickel that he didn’t cite any of the aforementioned decisons in his speech.

As for what he said, only a hardcore right wing partisan would believe that his words were vague, or subject to multiple interpretations.

Here is what he said:
This is a serious long term war, and it will enviably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous,


He is saying that this war will lead the government to shut down sites that are "dangerous."

No way to spin that. That’s hardly a vague aasertion. He is saying that in his mind, the natural and unregrettable consequence of fighting this so-called "war" (which is a war on what Newt says it is a war on) is that we will have to abandon almost a 100 years of constitutional jurisprudence on the subject. Read Brandenberg. "Dangerousness" is not the standard. Not by a long shot. And anyone who believes that our current situation requires us to adopt such a standard might feel more comfortable in a country without a First Amendment.
And, my prediction to you is that ether before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech,


Nothing vague about that. Restricting what is now considered free speech to prevent future harm? OK, let’s start with Republican campaigan ads. After all, electing Republicans will cause future harm.

Again, Jon, I know you are a hard core winger, but how could even you interpret this as anything other than a flagrant rejection of the very essence of the First Amendment? Have you lost your mind?

And then we get this:
This is a serious problem that will lead to a serious debate about the first amendment, but I think that the national security threat of losing an American city to a nuclear weapon, or losing several million Americans to a biological attack is so real that we need to proactively, now, develop the appropriate rules of engagement.
Uh, no it won’t, not as long as we don’t let nut jobs like Newt gain the reins of power. More to the point, how does limiting speech prevent a nuke from being blown up in an American city? Answer? It doesn’t.

Unfortunately Newt is like most on the right - in love with government power. Torture, wire tapping without a warrant, indefintie detention of American citizens without access to the courts, these are the main tenets of the political right today. The bottom line is that wingers have become hard core authoirtiarians. Drunck with and in love with government power.

And worse, rather than call out Gingrich for what he said, and his ignorance of the case law on the subject and the wisdom and experience reflected in those decisions, Jon criticizes Newt’s critics.

Brush up on history Jon, it will do you some good.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Gingrich has always struck me as someone who is assumed to be bright, but who doesn’t really know what the hell he is talking about.
Well, you are an expert on not knowing what the hell you are talking about.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Well, you are an expert on not knowing what the hell you are talking about.
Good comeback, Mark. Very substantive. Meaningful, even. You are insightful, without being arrogant or condescending.

Now, do you care to engage the issue?
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Good comeback, Mark. Very substantive. Meaningful, even. You are insightful, without being arrogant or condescending.

Now, do you care to engage the issue?
... said the guy who just finished writing,
Restricting what is now considered free speech to prevent future harm? OK, let’s start with Republican campaigan ads. After all, electing Republicans will cause future harm.

Again, Jon, I know you are a hard core winger, but how could even you interpret this as anything other than a flagrant rejection of the very essence of the First Amendment? Have you lost your mind?
[...]
The bottom line is that wingers have become hard core authoirtiarians. Drunck with and in love with government power.

And worse, rather than call out Gingrich for what he said, and his ignorance of the case law on the subject and the wisdom and experience reflected in those decisions, Jon criticizes Newt’s critics.

Brush up on history Jon, it will do you some good.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Sorry, I also meant to bold the quoted question, "Have you lost your mind?"

But then, he answered that when he said that Jon is a hard core version of a hard core authoritarian.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Newt Gingrich has a very nasty habit of trying to get people to actually think about something. Sometimes he will start the ball rolling by throwing some idea, sometimes thought of on the spur of the moment and not necessarily something he advocates, into the arena. This, of course, makes him a magnificent target. Sometimes the ideas are not very good, but you have to start somewhere. Imagine, a politician who actually means it when he says he wants to have an intellectual discussion with no preconceptions where nothing is off the table.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Here is what OrneryWP has to say on the subject:
Sorry .... But ... Jon is a hard core version of a hard core authoritarian.
Now, OWP may respond that the foregoing misprepresents what he said. He may even claim that I omitted certain parts of what he said, and used ellipses to misrepresent other aspects of what he said. But since he did the same thing, well, color me unimpressed.

OWP, like Mr. Flacy, knows nothing about First Amendment jurisprudence. So they resort to lying, omission and snark.

Sad.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Yeah, huge cover-up. It’s not like I use bracketed ellipses to quote something you said only a few posts above my own, and quoted whole paragraphs.

I didn’t lie, I showed exactly what I was omitting, and please, don’t flatter me: my snark pales in comparison to yours.

Please, continue equivocating... if you think it will do anything but dig a deeper hole.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Better yet, show me how my single bracketed ellipsis compares to your brazen misrepresentation. Show how it changes the meaning of the fact that you called Jon a hard core winger, with "winger" defined as a hard core authoritarian. Or tell us how it shows what a respectful, non-condescencing, humble person you are when you ask Jon, point blank, whether he’s lost his mind.
Did my quotation practices change the meaning of anything you said? Did I not quote whole sentences and paragraphs?

This is all terribly entertaining for me. Please, continue.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Better yet, show me how my single bracketed ellipsis compares to your brazen misrepresentation.
You win. You got me.
Show how it changes the meaning of the fact that you called Jon a hard core winger, with "winger" defined as a hard core authoritarian.
I did call him that. You got me again.
Or tell us how it shows what a respectful, non-condescencing, humble person you are when you ask Jon, point blank, whether he’s lost his mind.
I submit. I am a disrespectful, condescending, non-humble person. I also kill puppies on the weekends, just for fun.
Did my quotation practices change the meaning of anything you said? Did I not quote whole sentences and paragraphs?
You win again. You changed nothing. You quoted accurately and completely.

Now, what’s that? You don’t want to engage in the substantive debate? You don’t want to engage me on the constitutional issues? You don’t feel lucky?

I didn’t think so.

Discussion of First Amendment jurisprudence is, as Shrub might say, "hard." I imagine it is for you too.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Well, we have 4 out of 5 posts agreeing that Olbermann was right, about Newt at least, the jury is still out on the frosted flakes.

I know, there are 13 posts, but only 5 actually had anything to do with Newt and freedom of speech. (you tried MK)

Keith Olbermann; he may not be right all the time, but he is more right than Newt (and O’Reilly). (4 out 5 bloggers agree)

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Shutting down websites is not like closing newspapers, it is not like closing radio stations, and I will click my heels three times now and go home.
 
Written By: kindlingman
URL: http://
mkultra -
Now, what’s that? You don’t want to engage in the substantive debate? You don’t want to engage me on the constitutional issues? You don’t feel lucky?

I didn’t think so.

Discussion of First Amendment jurisprudence is, as Shrub might say, "hard." I imagine it is for you too.
You’ve assumed that I fundamentally disagree with your stance on the First Amendment. For all you know from what I’ve written, I agree with you.

My earlier post was merely pointing out that your sarcastic remark decrying your opponent as not providing substantive/meaningful/insightful comments, and for being "arrogant or condescending," were patently hypocritical in light of your own tactics. I was really posting about debate etiquette, which is important for reasons I’ll describe below.

If you want an actual debate, start with the fundamental condition for substantial debate, which is personal courtesy (even if you don’t respect your opponents.... in fact, especially when you don’t respect them). If you’re going to sling insults, mock your opponents, and speculate on your opponents’ motives, you’re going to unmake all the serious points you lay out in between your vitriol.
Don’t get me wrong: other posters are just as guilty of this. But if you choose to write nasty things about your opponents, you (A) will be in no position to call your opponents out for avoiding substantial debate, and perhaps more importantly, (B), you won’t change anyone’s mind, in which case posting here is a complete waste of your time. I mean, what other purpose is there for commenting, really? Smug self-righteousness?
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
So, next time I actually disagree with you, and I can be sure you won’t resort to personal attacks, I’ll be more inclined to post something substantial, instead of spending time pointing out the obvious.

Ready to post without personal attacks, speculation on your opponents’ motives, and mockery? Your behavior will show whether you’re ready for that.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
MK - for all the times you have just disappeared from a thread after being called out on something, you of all people should back off. Ignoring Ornery’s point just to make your own is sad.

On to Newt’s speech, I think it important to look at the examples he gives at the very beginning to set the stage for what he thinks needs to be discussed -

And I want to suggest to you that right now we should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren’t for the scale of threats.
OK - sounds rational so far -
When the British this summer arrested people who were planning to blow up ten airliners in one day, they arrested a couple who were going to use their six month old baby in order to hide the bomb as baby milk.


That is pretty radical. And sick. Definitely something that should be at least discussed and reviewed.
Now, if I come to you tonight and said that there are people on the planet who hate you, and they are 15-25 year old males who are willing to die as long as they get to kill you, I’ve simply described the warrior culture which is the true for 6 or 7 thousand years.



But, if I come to you and say that there is a couple that hates you so much that they will kill there six month old baby in order to kill you, I am describing a level of ferocity, and a level of savagery beyond anything we have tried to handle.
It is something completely different than anything in our history (and yes, Newt is pretty sharp when it comes to our history MK)

And he finishes with -
This is a sober topic, but I think it is a topic we need a national dialogue about,
And to these points MK, you lower yourself to -
Gingrich has always struck me as someone who is assumed to be bright, but who doesn’t really know what the hell he is talking about. This issue has already been examined and decided by minds far superior to his. Worse, like most winguts, he thinks he is living in a special age, one where the lessons of history have no direct bearing. And this coming from someone who styles himself as a historian.
You are a piece of work MK.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Keith Olbermann; he may not be right all the time, but he is more right than Newt (and O’Reilly).
On this particular issue? I’d still like somebody to make the argument for why we shouldn’t intervene against people actively plotting, recruiting and conspiring to commit terrorism.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
If Newt is serious about muzzling people who advocte the killing of Americans, he will have to start with rightwing pundits and bloggers such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Pam Atlas....
 
Written By: laura
URL: http://
I’d like to see an argument for foregoing a discussion right now of what limits and what risks we are willing to tolerate in order to prevent overreacting later. Nobody understands like a historian how public outrage can lead government to overreact and slam the doors too tight. Sarbanes-Oxley would be a recent example.

I suppose this discussion wouldn’t be nearly so ripe for boob-baiting as pointing and yelling, "Look, it’s Gingrich! All Hail Olberman!", but nonetheless it seems like a solid suggestion.
 
Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
On this particular issue? I’d still like somebody to make the argument for why we shouldn’t intervene against people actively plotting, recruiting and conspiring to commit terrorism.

There’s no need to make that argument in any way, thank you. That argument is what we would call a "straw man". We already do plenty of that, and nothing in Keith Olberman’s remarks should or could be rationally construed to suggest that we *stop* doing that.

Keith is concerned about what further steps Newt might be talking about here, considering we already do all of the above.

Me too.

Keith seems on fairly solid ground, then.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
On this particular issue? I’d still like somebody to make the argument for why we shouldn’t intervene against people actively plotting, recruiting and conspiring to commit terrorism.
Jon, do you think we do not intervene against people actively plotting, recruiting, and conspiring to commit terrorism? Of course we do.

This is about something different, this is about shutting up people who air speech which someone (Newt?) decides is "dangerous". There are literally thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of Anti-American pro-Muslim, pro-terrorist, web sites around the country and around the world. All of these are "dangerous" to one extent or another. Your site is "dangerous" to some extent (what if people actually listened to Billy Beck).

You are willing to wait for specific policy recommendations, I think Newt has made it clear that he is talking about giving up freedom for security (I know this has become trite) but I am sure you agree that security is irrelevant without freedom. If we are destroyed by freedom, so be it, it is worth the risk. We can choose to be an open society or a closed society, there is not much room in between. Once a body is empowered to "Shut down" dangerous websites, they have been empowered to shut down any website, and the continued use of free speech on the web would instantly become the use of allowed speech.

Ideologically, we are really only better than other societies to the extent that we can view their propaganda without crumbling, while they must censor the message that our society delivers.

The Soviet Union could not survive the information sharing that the simple fax machine provided, (bigger reason that Reagan for the fall of the Soviet Union) and we need to be able to survive the internet without becoming more like them.
I’d like to see an argument for foregoing a discussion right now of what limits and what risks we are willing to tolerate in order to prevent overreacting later.


Our current laws do this. If the government believes something on the web is criminal (conspiracy to commit terrorism, etc) they can obtain warrants and have those responsible arrested. The power to shut down websites for anything less than a crime would be a violation of the First Amendment.

And what of websites hosted outside the United States, does Newt want to be abke to filter content? Arghhhhhh, do you see where this can go. And I know Jon would oppose as many of the tactics as I would oppose once they were made concrete, but the scary thing is that most Americans would not.

Ask a typical America if it would be okay for the government to filter out US web users access to pro-al Qaeda websites... they will say ... SURE.



Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
If we are destroyed by freedom, so be it, it is worth the risk.
I notice the people who write such things appear to believe the risk is zero.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
If we are destroyed by freedom, so be it, it is worth the risk. We can choose to be an open society or a closed society, there is not much room in between.

Complete nonsense. I suppose interning the Yellow Peril during WWII destroyed the country, right? Led to a police state, did it? How about Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus? We ever get that back?

No one’s advocating anything of that sort. But it’s plain the Union can withstand certain restrictions on freedom—a fool would deny that, maybe. So is it a question of survival or isn’t it? Are we going to decide now or decide after we lose thousands? Is it better to discuss this now, while the threat appears to be at bay for the moment, or when we are in danger of overreacting?

You dopes want so badly to make this about Newt and what he’s supposedly trying to take from you that I doubt you can discuss it honestly. I’ve made my last attempt, though.
 
Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
We already do plenty of that, and nothing in Keith Olberman’s remarks should or could be rationally construed to suggest that we *stop* doing that.
I’m not sure we really do — at least, not well, not comprehensively and not by a set of "rules of engagement".
this is about shutting up people who air speech which someone (Newt?) decides is "dangerous".
I think this is your inference, not necessarily his implication. Again, I’d like to see him expand on what he said before I make a final judgment. I just don’t think we can make your inference.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
this is about shutting up people who air speech which someone (Newt?) decides is "dangerous".

I think this is your inference, not necessarily his implication. Again, I’d like to see him expand on what he said before I make a final judgment. I just don’t think we can make your inference.
If you want to call it an inference, that’s fine, but I think I am simply paraphrasing Newt when he says...
This is a serious long term war, and it will enviably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous,
Now if all he means is that we will charge the website operators with crime and shut down their websites because they were being used to commit a crime, that’s fine, but that doesn’t take a speech, that’s what we can do now. The simple fact that he is saying that we need to do something we are not clearly suggests that he means something more than finding a crime and shutting the "dangerous" websites down BECAUSE they are associated with illegal activities, and ANY move in that direction is a defacto move to change speech from free to allowable.

It is already illegal to yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre, are you willing to make it illegal to say "America is an imperialist terror state and should be brought down by any means necessary"?

I would find that last statement to be offensive and wrong, but protected. Would you remove this protection? And what would become unprotected along with it?

This is not a slippery slope argument, this is a simple Illinois Nazi’s argument, their speech is offensive and anti-American, but if you restrict their right to speak, you absolutely change speech from free to allowable, and then it is simply a matter of how much of the power you have granted to government they will use, and we all know that power granted is power used.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Jon;

Agreement. Further,I’d refer you to Andy McCarthy in today’s Corner:
....Captain Ed offers an uncharacteristically overwrought analysis of Newt Gingrich’s sensible argument that the current threat – jihadists plotting mass-murder in a world where weapons of mass destruction are increasingly accessible – requires a rethinking of First Amendment principles.

The Speaker is right, and the fact that he is treading on this third rail is further indication that he will be formidable as a presidential candidate. Plainly, he understands that the modern threat environment requires going back to first constitutional principles rather than simply accepting the law as sculpted by the Warren Court.
And that seems the rub, to me. I submit that the reasons we’ve not had this dicussion as a nation before was because we were not dealing with the first amendment as amended by the Warren court previously.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Well, I think Newts main point is that we can discuss this rationally now, or we can cringe as an unread bill gets passed in the aftermath of the next big terrorist attack on our soil...
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
You’re making an inference about the word "dangerous", Cap. Maybe he has an unusually restrictive view of what constitutes danger, but maybe he’s referring to actual danger as represented by recruitment, planning, etc. We don’t know, and until he expounds we can’t really judge. The inferences I’ve taken seem well within reasonable limits. If you think that, by "danger", he meant "rhetorical excess", then that would be far too much, of course.

But we’re clearly not currently able to shut down and bring charges against these problem websites, since many of them exist outside of the US.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
You’re making an inference about the word "dangerous", Cap.
The only inference I am making is what constitutes dangerous, in my mind, that is something which is associated with criminal activity, which are covered under current laws. By simply making these comments, Newt is inferring that current laws are not enough, therefore dangerous becomes something OTHER than criminal, in which case what constitutes dangerous would no longer be decided by courts, but some other body, necessarily infringing on the First Amendment.
Maybe he has an unusually restrictive view of what constitutes danger, but maybe he’s referring to actual danger as represented by recruitment, planning, etc.


All covered under current law, so we MUST infer he means something beyond what is covered under current law, which must include some infringment on the first Amendment.

We don’t know, and until he expounds we can’t really judge. The inferences I’ve taken seem well within reasonable limits. If you think that, by "danger", he meant "rhetorical excess", then that would be far too much, of course.
Anything beyond what we have today is outside of reasonable limits. Something is either criminal or it is not, if it is, we have the means by which to shut down the websites and arrest the operators. Since he is obviously taking about something more and something new, it is certainly going to be something other than the current rules, which necessarily means restrictions on free speech.
But we’re clearly not currently able to shut down and bring charges against these problem websites, since many of them exist outside of the US.
This is true, but irrelevant, the FISA laws allow for much more aggresive search and seizure when it involves only agents of a foreign power, so to the extent we can determine the source of a website, we can use any internationally legal means to shut it down and apprehend the operators, again, if we believe they are committing or conspiring to commit, in this case, acts of war or sabotage, or terrorism.

Here is my concern, how do you shut down a website in Iran? Do you bomb the ISP? Do you sever the connection between Iraq’s internet infrastructure and network access points? Both unlikely to be accomplished, and even if it were, there are simply too may doors to close them all. Or do you use the force of the US government to require every backbone provider that enters the US to filter out the "dangerous" sites.

Jon, there is simply nowhere I can go with Newt’s rhetoric that does not take us someplace that I am simply not willing to go. And what scares me most is that many, many Americans will joyfully support "shutting down terrorist websites", being completely obvlivious to the implications that I know you are fully aware of. So no, I don’t want to hear his concrete proposals, I would like to this line of rhetoric resisted long before he has a chance to bring a concrete proposal to the American people.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
So no, I don’t want to hear his concrete proposals, I would like to this line of rhetoric resisted long before he has a chance to bring a concrete proposal to the American people.
"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas." - Joseph Stalin

Promoting freedom of speech by fighting against it, huh Cap? For a guy who seems to love freedom, that’s an awfully Stalinist approach.

 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Promoting freedom of speech by fighting against it, huh Cap? For a guy who seems to love freedom, that’s an awfully Stalinist approach.
That is positively idiotic. I do not have the power of government behind me, I am talking about speaking up against the idea passionately, using our freedom speech to resist his desires to limit it such that it will be made clear to Newt and anyone else that we will support their efforts to trade our rights for a little security.

You do understand the difference don’t you?

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Hmmm.

I tell you, Jon. You know why I like reading your posts so much??? You keep surprising me, man.
You see, I saw the title of your post,
In defense of Newt Gingrich
And I thought, OH, goodie… Jon’s going to write about this,
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich told a New Hampshire audience yesterday that unless the Bush administration admits that the war in Iraq is a "failure," it will never develop a strategy to leave the country successfully.
But, nope!

As I quickly discovered you were writing about Newt’s questionable comments regarding free speech, I thought… OH goodie, Jon’s typically doesn’t write satire, this should be good.

But, nope!

Oh, well.
Now, this is somewhat vague, so I’ll certainly withhold final judgment until I see what he actually proposes, but as I read it, this isn’t really about limiting freedom of speech; it’s about how we cope with the people who use that freedom of speech to conspire to incite or conduct terrorism against the United States
Really? Too bad he didn’t say that.
In any event, absent some specific, objectionable proposal from Newt Gingrich, it seems to me that he simply made the uncontroversial point that we ought to have a policy to shut down the recruiting for, planning and incitement of, terror operations being conducted on the internet around the world.
Gee, you’d think that a seasoned politician would be better at this than you are.

But, nope!
Perhaps he needs to employ a professional blogger.
I think this is your inference, not necessarily his implication. Again, I’d like to see him expand on what he said before I make a final judgment. I just don’t think we can make your inference.

You’re making an inference about the word "dangerous", Cap. Maybe he has an unusually restrictive view of what constitutes danger, but maybe he’s referring to actual danger as represented by recruitment, planning, etc. We don’t know, and until he expounds we can’t really judge. The inferences I’ve taken seem well within reasonable limits. If you think that, by "danger", he meant "rhetorical excess", then that would be far too much, of course.
Benefit of the doubt… I see. Fair enough. You are good at parsing words.
Olbermann — who traffics in self-righteous outrage like Bill O’Reilly traffics in...well, self-righteous outrage — hasn’t been this upset since this morning when he issued a Special Comment denouncing his frosted flakes. He was due.
Huh!?
Oh wait… That’s satire. See, I totally get that. That’s a good one, man.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com/
Correction
we will NOT support their efforts to trade our rights for a little security.
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
That is positively idiotic. I do not have the power of government behind me...
Neither does FORMER Speaker Gingrich. He’s now simply a private citizen, albeit one a bit more recognizable to Joe Public than you or I.
I am talking about speaking up against the idea passionately, using our freedom speech to resist his desires to limit it such that it will be made clear to Newt and anyone else that we will support their efforts to trade our rights for a little security.
And that would be fine, but what you wrote prior to this was:
So no, I don’t want to hear his concrete proposals
That indicates to me that you aren’t willing to let the man enjoy the basic freedom of speech that you are defending here. Instead the preferred college campus leftist tactic of shouting down the opposition appears indicated here. Or at least that’s what I "infer" from your statement. I mean, since you, Pogue, MK, and everyone else on the "crush Newt" bandwagon seems to be doing a lot of "inferring," I figure it’s been greenlighted as valid methodology on this discussion, right?
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
how does limiting speech prevent a nuke from being blown up in an American city? Answer? It doesn’t.
Another example of liberal genius. If you can’t even grasp the basic premise of Newt’s speech, you shouldn’t comment.

He spells it out pretty clearly. He is talking about preventing terrorists from taking advantage of our civil liberties to spread their hateful message and recruit new followers. Despite Newt’s explicit statement that this is a serious issue that calls for serious debate, all MKultra and the other liberals on this thread can do is engage in idiotic demagoguery. Al Qaeda specifically trains its followers to take advantage of American civil liberties so it’s not debateable that this is a legitimate issue. All Newt has said is that the war on terror requires a serious debate about how to deal with this issue and where to draw the line between free speech and national security. Liberals have again shown why we can’t have serious debate about serious issues in this country. They are either too stupid or too mendacious to seriously engage in debate on everything from this issue to health care reform to strategy in Iraq, etc. Gingrich didn’t offer a single specific so criticism is premature.

Also, the selective outrage of liberals regarding infringement of our First Amendment rights blows their credibility. How concerned were Olbermann or MKultra about McCain-Feingold’s violation of our First Amendment rights (and I don’t care what the liberal idiots on the Supreme Court ruled, the freedom to criticize government officals is the raison d’etre of the First Amendment)?
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
The only inference I am making is what constitutes dangerous, in my mind, that is something which is associated with criminal activity, which are covered under current laws.
What laws cover a guy in Pakistan sending out messages via sympathetic websites? I don’t know if that’s the kind of thing to which he’s referring, but it’s consistent with the scenarios to which he’d referred.
how do you shut down a website in Iran?
I don’t know. Neither do you. Seems like the sort of problem for which we ought to have some sort of rules of engagement.

In the meantime, until Gingrich actually expresses a specific policy, you’re just speculating and taking the Humpty-Dumpty approach — his words mean whatever you want them to mean, neither more nor less.

Gingrich said we need "to break up their capacity to use free speech". As I read it, that doesn’t mean we need to break up free speech. We just need to break up what they are doing with it. Obviously, I don’t want that to lead to broader restrictions and I would oppose that should it arise. But Gingrich was pretty clearly referring to people who are actually engaging in that kind of activity. And despite all your promises that we can already take care of it, there’s quite a hell of a lot of it going on around the world that we’re not doing much about.

I think we ought to look at new and better ways we can break up their communications systems. You disagree. Fine. So tell me why we can shut down al Qaeda communications systems and why, since we can already do it just fine without looking at new technologies, new methods and new rules of engagement, we’re not doing so. Because if you’re just fine with our current ability to intersect actual terrorist communications, then you must have some reason for that confidence.
And I thought, OH, goodie… Jon’s going to write about this, [...] But, nope!
You can also find thousands of other things I didn’t blog about today right here.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
How do you shut down a website in Iran?
Ever hear of a Denial of Service attack? Hell, man, a few teenyboppers can pull that off on a school night...(Chuckle)



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Bithead beat me to it. If insurgency is difficult for us to wrap our minds around, the pace and complexity of cyber-war is just going to be completely beyond most of the citizenry.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
The solution to the problem is simple. Declare the entire US to be a university campus so that we can have all kinds of hate speech gobbledygook rules and no one on the left will have to worry about anything, and no one on the right will either since they will just be undergrads scared of angering their left-leaning professors.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Let me see if I’ve got this right... once more Keith Olbermann is bravely standing up for the right to debate ideas freely in America by... ummm... denouncing Newt Gingrich for trying to explore an idea he personally considers "dangerous".

So what is the solution here? Should we shut Newt up? Take away his Free Speech card? Do tell, Keith. Or maybe you can just issue a list of Olbermann-approved topics for debate.

Let’s not forget that nothing Gingrich "discusses" is going to become law unless it is proposed and passed by both houses of Congress who were (last time I checked) both our duly-elected representatives AND now controlled by the "right" party.

So.....just what is it Herr Olbermann finds so "dangerous" about this discussion?

 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/
So what is the solution here? Should we shut Newt up? Take away his Free Speech card? Do tell, Keith. Or maybe you can just issue a list of Olbermann-approved topics for debate.
Good points Cassandra.

Anyone seen MK? No? Shocking...

 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
So what is the solution here? Should we shut Newt up? Take away his Free Speech card? Do tell, Keith. Or maybe you can just issue a list of Olbermann-approved topics for debate.
Question asked...
So what is the solution here?


Strawman erected...
Should we shut Newt up? Take away his Free Speech card? Do tell, Keith.
Real answer we do what Olbermann did, we point out what Newt said and what is wrong with it, hopefully gaining support for the position supporting our rights, and not shutting Newt up, but letting him know that he will not get our support for eliminating our rights.

It’s funny, often the same people who support Bush’s use of the government to infringe on our rights, claim that any attempt to point out the bad ideas of another amounts to taking away their right to speak.

I don’t want to take away Newt’s right to speak, I want to make sure theat as many people as possible understand the consequences of giving Newt the power of government behind him.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Let me see if I’ve got this right... once more Keith Olbermann Cassandra is bravely standing up for the right to debate ideas freely in America by... ummm... denouncing Newt Gingrich Olbermann for trying to explore an idea he she personally considers "dangerous”.

So what is the solution here? Should we shut Newt Olbermann up? Take away his Free Speech card? Do tell, Keith Cassandra. Or maybe you can just issue a list of Olbermann-approved Cassandra-approved topics for debate.

Let’s not forget that nothing Gingrich Olbermann "discusses" is going to become law unless it is proposed and passed by both houses of Congress who were (last time I checked) both our duly-elected representatives AND now controlled by the "right" party.

So.....just what is it Herr Olbermann Frau Cassandra finds so "dangerous" about this discussion?
.
.
.

No wait. Strike that,… reverse it.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com/
I didn’t suggest anything was dangerous about Olbermann, and there is nothing in my comment from which a reasonable person could infer such.

The most a reasonable person could infer is that he is an ass who is making a big deal about nothing. *Big* difference.
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/
And FWIW, Jon make an excellent point. Olbermann has a long history of working himself and his audience into a lather over intentionally selective quotes he works at to make as sensational - and misleading - as possible.

If you want to go after your intellectual opponents, at least do it honestly. Olbermann seems incapable of doing that. I was amazed that he actually referred to something Gingrich said here, even if it *was*, of course, edited to change the meaning. Usually he completely paraphrases his target (apparently finding complete direct quotes to be too close to the truth for comfort).
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/
I didn’t suggest anything was dangerous about Olbermann, and there is nothing in my comment from which a reasonable person could infer such.
My most humble apologies, Cassandra. You must excuse my lapse, however. After all, you did write this,
So what is the solution here? Should we shut Newt up? Take away his Free Speech card? Do tell, Keith.
Followed by,
Herr Olbermann.
Now I guess that one could reasonably assume that you were merely paying homage to Olbermann’s noble German heritage. But also, Cassandra, couldn’t you consider it reasonable that after reading in context your “Should we shut Newt up? Take away his Free Speech card?” one could easily assume that you were holding “Herr Olbermann” to his German roots circa 1930’s?
And that most reasonable people would consider that dangerous.
Also,
Let me see if I’ve got this right... once more Keith Olbermann is bravely standing up for the right to debate ideas freely in America by... ummm... denouncing Newt Gingrich for trying to explore an idea he personally considers "dangerous".
You must have given yourself moderate latitude as you infer, “explore an idea he personally considers "dangerous"”. As no where in the linked story did Olbermann use the word “dangerous”. So your own scare quotes around “dangerous” must have been inference.

You should allow reasonable people the same moderate latitude. No?

And one more thing,
The most a reasonable person could infer is that he is an ass who is making a big deal about nothing. *Big* difference.
I would suggest that reasonable people could put that description to most of us commenting here.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com/

 
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