Thursday, February 26, 2004

Congress Shall Make No Law Abridging Freedom Of The Press

The Bush Administration's war on intellectual freedom marches on.
the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has declared that American publishers cannot edit works authored in nations under trade embargoes, including Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Cuba. Treasury says that although publishing the work is legal, editing is a “service,” and it’s illegal to perform services for embargoed nations. It can be punishable by fines of up to a half-million dollars or jail terms as long as 10 years.
This is from Making Light, where Teresa Nielsen Hayden is appropriately dumbfounded to hear that, as an editor, she is a Potential Enemy Of The State. But apparently I'm late in blogging this; Charles Dodgson notes that scientific and professional societies got the news last fall. Here's a quote from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers:
On 30 September, the U.S. Treasury Department (Washington, D.C.) informed the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) that it must continue to limit members’ rights in four countries embargoed by the United States: Cuba, Iran, Libya, and Sudan. The ruling means, among other things, that the IEEE, the world’s largest engineering association (and the publisher of this magazine), cannot edit articles submitted by authors in those countries, making it effectively impossible for most such work to appear in IEEE publications.
This administration has politicized science like no other in modern U.S. history. I've blogged before about the perversion of the peer review process, and the Administration's efforts to distort or suppress government-funded research that fails to support their policies have been all over the news. (Condom effectiveness, abstinence-only education, global warming, health disparities... go to Henry Waxman's website and type in your favorite scientific topic.) Now we're moving beyond suppression of Bad Ideas to the suppression of ideas from people in Bad Places, and all by an administration and party that still somehow manages to see itself as the embodiment of "freedom."

Are conservatives really comfortable with the idea that, if someone in one of those proscribed countries comes out with a local version of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, our country will punish anyone who tries to publish it? It all just seems so... Soviet.