In Defense Of Narco News Journalist Bill Conroy
Momentum Building in Defense of Narco News Journalist Bill Conroy
June 2, 2005
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"Authentic journalism is telling people something that the government doesn't want them to know."
- Gary Webb
The campaign of harassment and intimidation from agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security towards Narco News correspondent Bill Conroy continues to draw outrage from journalists and others who value press freedom. Journalists in the United States and around the world have seen this case as not just an attack on Conroy, or on Narco News, but on all of us. Momentum is already building for his defense.
In the early evening of May 23, two customs agents from the Department showed up at Conroy's home in San Antonio, Texas, looking for him ("I had to explain to my son that I hadn't done anything wrong," Conroy told Narco News). Conroy wasn't yet home from work, but he got a visit the next day in his office at a local business periodical from Carlos Salazar (one of the agents that had spoken to his wife the previous evening) along with a second agent. They wanted Conroy to name his source for a leaked memo, although no laws had been broken and Conroy was completely within his rights in publishing it. The agents then insisted on speaking to Conroy's boss, the periodical's publisher.
"A short time later," Conroy told Narco News last week, "my publisher came into my office. I expected that I might be fired. I really didn't know. But he was cool. He basically said that he told them I'm a journalist and that the story I wrote was done on my own time and had nothing to do with the newspaper. He knew full well they were trying to get him to come down on me. So my boss took a very courageous stand and basically told them there was nothing he could do to help them at this point."
The Homeland Security goons have not given up yet, and neither must we. The leaked memos, whistleblower testimony, and other previously unknown documents that Conroy has brought to public knowledge through his Narco News reports, as well as his book, Borderline Security, are the very definition of authentic journalism and public interest reporting. We must not waver in letting that Frankenstein monster of the Bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security, or any other representative of Power, know that they will not succeed in silencing such voices through intimidation or censorship.
This case was mentioned in the latest issue of the widely-read newsletter Secrecy News, published by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. So great was the response that on Tuesday, the rush of new visitors following the Secrecy News link crashed our server briefly.
The brief from Secrecy News reads:
DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY PURSUES ONLINE JOURNALIST
After journalist Bill Conroy wrote a story in the online publication Narco News concerning a memo that had been leaked to him from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department sent two agents to his home and to his workplace, where they pressed him to identify his source. In an apparent attempt at intimidation, they also approached his employer after he declined to cooperate.
The encounter was described in "Customs Cops Visit Bill Conroy with an Attack on Press Freedom" by Al Giordano, May 24:
The original story, 'Homeland Security memo reveals terrorism records are being sanitized' by Bill Conroy, April 7, is here:
The story includes a link to the leaked DHS memo, which is unclassified but not authorized for public release.
(Secrecy News is restating Narco News' assumption on which story was the offending one; in fact, the agents never bothered to specify which it was.)
Stay with us as this case develops...
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The Narco News Bulletin