He later became disillusioned, however, and led a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler. In 1937 Niemoller was arrested for the crime of “not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement” and later sent to concentration camps. Rescued in 1945 by the Allies, he became a leading post-war voice of reconciliation for the German people.
Niemoller is most famous for his well-known and frequently quoted statement detailing the dangers of political apathy in the face of repression. Although it described the inactivity of Germans following the Hitler’s rise to power and his violent purging of group after group of German citizens, his statement lives on as a universal description of the dangers of not standing up against tyranny.
The text of the Niemoller’s statement is usually presented as follows:
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
The subpoena, as Charlie Savage reported recently in the Times, “tells Mr. Risen that ‘you are commanded’ to appear at federal district court in Alexandria, Va., on Sept. 12 to testify in the case. A federal district judge, Leonie M. Brinkema, quashed a similar subpoena to Mr. Risen last year, when prosecutors were trying to persuade a grand jury to indict Mr. Sterling.”
Risen rightly says he will ask the judge to quash the new subpoena as well, stating forthrightly, “I will always protect my sources,” and rightly that, “this is a fight about the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”
It’s bad enough that ever since President Obama took office, he has repeatedly gone after whistleblowers like Sterling with a cold vengeance, charging more people in cases involving leaking information than “all previous presidents combined,” as Savage noted.
But Obama administration officials are no longer content just with targeting whistleblowers like Sterling, former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, (who goes on trial soon on charges of providing classified information to The Baltimore Sun) and of course Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused – and already pronounced guilty by the president — of passing a classified video of an American military helicopter shooting Baghdad civilians to Wikileaks.org. Now they are coming for the journalists as well – just as Bush Administration officials did before them.
And if Risen’s subpoena is not quashed and he still refuses to testify, he risks being held in contempt and imprisoned, just as Times reporter Judy Miller was for 85 days for her refusal to testify in connection with the Valerie Plame Wilson leak in 2005.
Obama’s prosecutors argue that the First Amendment doesn’t give Risen any right to avoid testifying about his confidential sources in a criminal proceeding, and that the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist should be compelled to provide information to a jury “like any other citizen.”
Citizens as well as journalists need to stand up for Risen and against the sleazy, Bush-like tactics of the Obamacrats and the burgeoning national security state. Otherwise, if you don’t speak out when they come, first for the whistleblowers, and then for the journalists, when they come for you, there will be no one left to speak out…
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