Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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A Reminder of the Importance of Good Journalism in Times of Fear
As a tribute to my friend Dana Priest at the Washington Post and the countless others who have worked so hard this year to give us exceptional journalism in an time of fear and official waffling (at best) and prevarication (at worst, and more often), I reproduce below an editorial by William Allen White in the Emporia Gazette, July 27, 1922. It says it all, except for the arcane sexism that was the language of the day. The more things change, unfortunately, the more we need to remember this wisdom from a patriot and giant of his age, and those like Dana and others who follow his path in difficult tiimes. Free expression and providing the public with accurate and timely information has probably never been more vital, nor more difficult than in these days of prosecutors demanding testimony, editors being called to meet the president to hear protests of stories, and outraged howls from conservatives or liberals who would rather see their agendas pushed than read the dispassionate discourse that makes for fine journalism.

To An Anxious Friend

You tell me that law is above freedom of utterance. And I reply that you can have no wise laws nor free enforcement of wise laws unless there is free expression of the wisdom of the people-and, alas, their folly with it. But if there is freedom, folly will die of its own poison and the wisdom will survive. That is the history of the race. It is proof of man's kinship to God.

You say freedom of utterance is not for time of stress, and I reply with the sad truth that only in times of stress is freedom of utterance in danger. No one questions it in calm days, because it is not needed. And the reverse is true also; only when free utterance is suprressed is it needed, and when it is needed it is most vital to justice.

Peace is good. But if you are interested in peace through force and without free discussion-that is to say, free utterance decently and in order-your interest in justice is slight. And peace without justice is tyranny, no matter how you may sugar coat it with expediency.

The state today is in more danger from suppression than from violence, because, in the end, supression leads to violence. Violence, indeed, is the child of suppression. Whoever pleads for justice helps keep the peace; and who tramples upon the plea for justice temperately made in the name of peace only outrages peace and kills something fine in the heart of man which God put there when we got our manhood. When that is killed, brute meets brute on each side of the line.

So, dear friend, put fear out of your heart. This nation will survive, this state will prosper, the orderly business of life will go forward if only men can speak in whatever way given them to utter what their hearts hold-by voice, by post card, by letter or by press. Reason has never failed men. Only force and repression have made the wrecks in the world.

Happy New Year.
Some Corrections at Year's End
Why Aircraft Matter to Terrorists and Criminal Groups
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