bye bye free speech in US?

carabid at MPM.EDU carabid at MPM.EDU
Thu Mar 25 14:07:00 CST 2004


--snip
  Do people who ever write these laws ever used their
brains.

Ron Gatrelle


Actually it might not be the law that is a problem. Congress passed a 1988
Berman Amendmentn amendment that "prohibits the President from regulating or
prohibiting, either directly or indirectly, "the importation from any
country, or the exportation to any country, whether commercial or otherwise,
regardless of format or medium of transmission, of any information or
informational materials..."
        The problem is that some bureaucrats apparently do not intend to
follow the amendment.
        The current regulations by themselves are very disconcerting and
prevent peer review of scientific articles from scholars in certain
countries. And of course scholars in the US under those regulations would
not be free to co-author papers with scholars in prohibited countries. Even
more disconcerting is that if free speech can successfully be turned off by
bureaucrats for scientific manuscripts from certain countries, then
logically bureaucrats will have the power to forbid the expression of ideas
that they think are not beneficial to the country, such as criticism of the
current administration. And there goes free speech. Free speech and academic
freedom are being nibbled to death.

Below is the text of a letter in which the original sponsor of the
successfully passed amendment complains to the Department of the Treasury.
>From <http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/ca28_berman/newcomb_letter.html>

  For Immediate Release
 March 3, 2004


 Letter from Rep. Berman to Richard Newcomb, Director of OFAC

 Mr. R. Richard Newcomb

Director

Office of Foreign Assets Control

U.S. Department of the Treasury

Treasury Building Annex

Pennsylvania Ave. and Madison Pl., N.W.

Washington, DC 20220





Dear Director Newcomb:



            We have had, over the years, many conversations and exchanges
regarding the correct interpretation of the amendment I authored to exempt
information and informational materials from economic embargoes (Section
203(b) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)) and I
have been greatly appreciative of the excellent relationship we have
enjoyed.  It is in that spirit that I am writing to take strong exception to
OFAC's interpretation of that provision as it applies to activities related
to the publication of manuscripts written by nationals of Iran (and other
countries sanctioned under IEEPA) in scholarly journals in the United
States.  In my view, the guidance issued by OFAC on this matter - and the
underlying regulations on which it is based - are clearly inconsistent with
both the letter and spirit of the law.



            As you know, my amendment prohibits the President from
regulating or prohibiting, either directly or indirectly, "the importation
from any country, or the exportation to any country, whether commercial or
otherwise, regardless of format or medium of transmission, of any
information or informational materials..." This provision is premised on the
belief that it is in our national interest to support the dissemination of
American ideas and values, especially in nations with oppressive regimes.
At the same time, it is intended to ensure the right of American citizens to
have access to a wide range of information and satisfy their curiosity about
the world around them.



In addition to these important considerations, the free flow of information
is an essential prerequisite for the advancement of human knowledge.  In the
realm of science, a robust peer review process - which requires scientists
to share data, exchange ideas and challenge assumptions - helps ensure the
integrity of scientific research.  Publishing the results of such research
in scholarly journals is an integral part of the scientific process.



In this context, OFAC's recent interpretation of Section 203(b) - as
reflected in your September 30, 2003 letter regarding permissible publishing
activities by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) -
is patently absurd.  Specifically, I take strong exception with OFAC's
position that, with regard to manuscripts from authors that reside in
countries subject to U.S. sanctions under IEEPA, "activities such as the
reordering of paragraphs or sentences, correction of syntax, grammar, and
replacement of inappropriate words by U.S. persons, prior to publication" of
a manuscripts constitutes a "prohibited service" that requires an OFAC
license.



These activities are an integral part of the peer review process that all
reputable journals have established to ensure the quality of the manuscripts
they publish.  As such, they should be considered incidental to the
publication of the manuscript, and thus covered by the information and
informational materials exemption.



On a similar note, I believe the exemption should apply to activities
related to the publication of literary works produced in embargoed
countries, including translation and editing required to make them
accessible to American readers.  It is my understanding that OFAC's narrow
and misguided interpretation of the law has threatened the publication of a
number of worthy manuscripts, including a book of poems written by Iranian
dissidents.  I fail to see how this serves the interests of the United
States in any way, shape or form.



In this age of rapid globalization, no country has a monopoly on scientific
innovation.  This reality is reflected in the fact that American publishers
of scholarly journals derive a substantial portion of their content from
foreign authors, including nationals of Iran and other countries subject to
U.S. sanctions.  Our government should not place publishers in the untenable
position of having to choose between publishing manuscripts from embargoed
countries "as is" without appropriate peer review or not publishing them at
all, even if they have great merit.



An accurate and reasonable interpretation of Section 203(b) -- as well as
common sense about America's national interests -- should compel OFAC to
reconsider its decision to require a specific license for these activities
and I look forward to hearing the results of such a review.



                                                            Sincerely,










HOWARD L. BERMAN


Member of Congress





Cc:       Dr. John H. Marburger III

            Science Advisor to the President



 ech in US?


snip

> may not edit or alter the works of a scholar who resides in a
> sanctioned nation (i.e. Iran, Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and the
> Sudan)

So why is "liberated" Iraq (our ally in the fight against terror) still on
this list.  At least Germany and Japan finally got removed.   I guess I'm
lucky Pakistan and China are not on the list or I'd have to go to jail.
What about folks from Iran who are on our butterfly Yahoo!Group list
serve -- is there aiding and abetting there if I the moderator "approves" a
message for posting (on line publishing).  How about links to published
materials on line.  Do people who ever write these laws ever used their
brains.

Ron Gatrelle




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