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A Summary of "National Security Justifies Censorship"
by
Roger S. Thomas

Introduction

The article "National Security Justifies Censorship" by Elmo R. Zumwalt and James G. Zumwalt, appears in Censorship, a book in the Opposing Viewpoints Series. The article asserts that information that is secret and vital to the security of the nation should not be released to the press. The arguments made by Zumwalt Senior and Junior are summarized below.

Summary

Although many journalists contend that the First Amendment guarantees unrestricted printing freedom, the authors believe the press has gained more power than the framers of the Constitution foresaw and therefore neglected to install safe guards that would protect national security. According to the authors, the power of the media has gone far past what the constitutional framers expected; consequently, several acts since the writing of the Constitution have been implemented to deal with the lack of protection regarding national security. The authors continue to affirm that even though significant risk exists when confidential information is released to the press, this danger has remained unresolved by the courts.

The authors cite an example to prove this point. The CIA during the Reagan administration recognized Muhamar Quadaffi as a known terrorist and a potential threat to national security in a classified document. The Washington Post somehow had the document disclosed to them, and they soon published the information. Several months after the operation had been abandoned, the CIA found Quadaffi responsible for the bombing of a West Berlin discotheque. Military action had to be taken because of the earlier release of the classified document. The operation incurred military casualties.

The authors then offer a two-part solution: (1) make the publication of classified information a punishable offense, and (2) incorporate a "code of ethics" into media...
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