Thursday, March 6, 2008

AP Chief: 9/11 Attacks Harmed First Amendment


The shadow of the Sept. 11 terror attacks is eclipsing press freedom and other constitutional safeguards in the United States, Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley said Thursday."What has become clear in the aftermath of 9/11 is how much expediency trumps safeguards," Curley said in remarks prepared for the annual dinner of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation.

"Congress steps back from its constitutional role of executive oversight. Civilian oversight of the military wanes. A Justice Department interprets laws in ways that extend police powers. More drastically, prisons are established in places where government or military operatives circumvent due process or control trials," Curley said in accepting the foundation's First Amendment Leadership Award. "It's at moments like these when a free press matters most," he said. Curley was selected for his role in pushing for more openness in government and for emphasizing reporting on First Amendment issues. That includes efforts by the AP to establish the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a news media coalition that presses for strengthening Freedom of Information laws and for greater government openness.

Also receiving First Amendment honors from the foundation Thursday were CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer and NBC Universal vice president Paula Madison. A special award also recognized former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Richard Wiley.