Iran, Iraq, America: Where Is The Press More Free?

In a tale of three troubled and repressive regimes, there is news today of a puzzling variation of values. Stories from a trio of nations put on display the character of the media in our world and show how that world has been turned upside down.

The Iran Story:
The Associated Press reports that two pro-reform newspapers, which had previously been shut down, are now being permitted to resume publication.

“The decision to allow the papers to reopen appeared to reflect a feeling among Iran’s top leadership — made up of Shiite clerics — that the country must allow a margin of expression for the opposition amid mounting discontent with Ahmadinejad at home. The papers were allowed to resume publishing by a new order from the judiciary, which is controlled by the clerical leadership […] The clerical leadership may be hoping the return of some reformist newspapers will provide a safety valve for the discontent.”

The Iraq Story:
In Iraq, however, the press is being prohibited access to scenes of violence, which would make it near impossible to report on the conduct of the war. The result, of course, will be that the citizens of Iraq, as well as the citizens and lawmakers in the United States, will have even less of the information that is so crucial to their/our lives.

“In a move sure to provoke open contempt and a firestorm of protests from journalists and news organizations, the Iraqi government will soon routinely ban journalists from the sites of bombings and other violent incidents, Iraqi Interior Ministry Operations Director Brigadier General Abdul Karim Khalaf announced today.”

When a theocratic nation like Iran, that is known for abusing and jailing its critics in the press, can show up their Iraqi neighbors, who are supposed to be emblems of freedom’s virtue, as proffered by their American benefactors, there is something terribly wrong going on. But sadly, it isn’t terribly surprising.

The America Story:
Here at home, the Pentagon has announced that soldiers will not be allowed to access Internet sites like YouTube, MySpace, and others.

“Soldiers serving overseas will lose some of their online links to friends and loved ones back home under a Department of Defense policy that a high-ranking Army official said would take effect Monday.”

The soldiers will also be losing the opportunity to relate their experiences to a world that is being kept in increasing darkness. If reporters are not permitted to document the realities of this war, and soldiers are likewise silenced, the truth becomes an evermore distant memory. The White House frequently complains that the good news from Baghdad never gets reported. Now the Pentagon is making sure that those with the best perspective will be mute. What does that say about the Pentagon’s confidence in the stories that soldiers might tell.

With the muzzling of American soldiers and the censorship of the reporters in Iraq, this would have been a bad day for the media were it not for Iran’s demonstration of liberty for the press. How bizarre is that?