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Open & Shut

From the Spring 2002 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 48.

From the Spring 2002 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 48.

“I’m not thrilled they’re using my name. I suppose there’s that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg about a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws poster including a quote from him last year about trying and enjoying smoking pot.

“Openness is necessary for the public to maintain confidence in the value and soundness of the Government’s actions, as secrecy only breeds suspicion as to why the Government is proceeding against Haddad and aliens like him.”

–U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds writing in her ruling that immigration proceedings for Rabih Haddad in Detroit, Mich., must be open to public scrutiny.

“I think we should always err on the side of the public’s right to know, but I think there are times I don’t think they need to know.”

— Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, addressing members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors at the group’s annual convention.

“It’s a lot to do about nothing. He ought to come up and talk to Congress. He does it privately. He ought to do it publicly.”

Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), talking about the unwillingness of Tom Ridge, director of Homeland Security, to brief Congress on efforts to combat terrorism domestically.

“We’re told it’s all about national security, but that’s not so. Keeping us from finding out about the possibility of accidents at chemical plants is not about national security; it’s about covering up an industry’s indiscretions. Locking up the secrets of those meetings with energy executives is not about national security; it’s about hiding the confidential memorandum sent to the White House by Exxon Mobil showing the influence of oil companies on the administration’s policy on global warning. We only learned about that memo this week, by the way, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. May it rest in peace.”

— Bill Moyer, during his PBS program NOW, talking about efforts to keep worst-case scenario plans of chemical plants off the Internet.

“If you can find a weakness in my water system, go ahead and report it, but if you want me to give you that information so you can report it, I’m not going to. If I know where my holes are and I’m trying to fix them, I’m certainly not going to let that information out.”

Bob Clegg, Republican House Speaker Pro Tem, as the New Hampshire House considers antiterrorism measures and open records concerns.

“I realize that this bill basically says you can tap someone’s phone for jaywalking, and normally I would say, ‘No way.’ But after what happened on Sept. 11, I say screw ’em.”

Del. Dana Lee Dembrow (D-Montgomery), debating wiretapping measures in a proposed Maryland antiterrorism bill.

“Without the media getting the word out to the public, every plan we have is totally ineffective.”

Maj. Gen. Reginald Centracchio, head of Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency, commenting on the closure of a Navy antiterrorism exercise to reporters.

“You have no right in this country not to be offended. Unpopular speech has to be protected.”

–Kirk Bierbauer, attorney for one of two Kentucky men charged with harassing communications after distributing fliers portraying government officials as drug users, sexual perverts and pedophiles.

“If the First Amendment means anything, it means that regulating speech must be a last — not first — resort. Yet here it seems to have been the first strategy the government thought to try.”

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, writing the majority opinion in a drug advertising case.

“Those who would threaten Americans, those who would engage in criminal barbaric acts, need to know that these crimes only hurt their cause and only deepen the resolve of the United States of America to rid the world of these agents of terror.”

–President Bush on the death of Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl.

“In sum, the First Amendment embraces the individual’s right to purchase and read whatever books she wishes to, without fear that the government will take steps to discover which books she buys, reads, or intends to read. A governmental search warrant directed to a bookstore that authorizes seizure of records that reflect a customer’s purchases necessarily intrudes into areas protected by this right.”

— Colorado Supreme Court, ruling in Tattered Cover, Inc. v. City of Thornton on April 8 that a city police department could not execute a search warrant for Tattered Cover Book Store’s customer-purchase records.