May 17th, 2010
12:31 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama signs Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act


President Obama signs the Daniel Pearl Freedom of Press Act while widow Mariane Pearl (L) and son Adam Daniel Pearl (2nd-L), stand nearby. (Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama signed legislation Monday expanding the federal government's role in monitoring global freedom of the press.

Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which requires a greater examination of the status of press freedoms in different countries in the State Department's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Among other things, the State Department will now be required to "identify countries in which there were violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in ... or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media," according to a statement from Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, one of the bill's primary sponsors.

This is a "piece of legislation that sends a strong signal about our core values when it comes to freedom of the press," Obama said shortly before signing the bill in the Oval Office. It "puts us clearly on the side of journalistic freedom."

The measure is named for Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by extremists in Pakistan shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Members of Pearl's family attended the signing ceremony.

Pearl's death "reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and reminded us there are those who would go to any length to silence journalists around the world," Obama said. There are "enormously courageous journalists and bloggers ... (on) the front lines against tyranny and oppression."

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 811 journalists have been killed worldwide while doing their jobs since 1992, the year the organization started keeping track of such incidents. Most of the casualties have come in Iraq, where 142 members of the media have lost their lives.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Donald

    So doug and henry any american journalist could go to other countries and be beheaded and that cool. or is it that obama is signing it got u angry. i was thinking lets repel the bill and send sarah palin to lets say iraq, iran or n. Korea since she is a journalist. wonder how u would react if she was beheaded

    May 17, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    Guess once we invest $11 billion per month for 9 years in two wars of Bush/Cheney choice, we have to keep sticking our noses in and trying to help the people we've killed (along with our own blood).

    Get our troops home, and stop interfering the way he republican war-mongers love so much.

    May 17, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. DavidN

    Hypocrisy indeed! Here we have a president – or shall I say a "regime" – that has shown numerous times, that it wishes, and does, control the press here at home. Wants to limit freedom of speech and freedom of the press, particularly to those voices that oppose the him, progressivism, socialism, etc... You know, those "evil" conservative voices out there like FOX, Beck, Limbaugh, Savage, etc... – who thinks we should be the guardians of "free press" globally!

    Mr. President, have you ever heard of leading by example? Yes, we should be the gurardians and champions of freedom everywhere and always! We should be a beacon of freedom to the world, a shining example, as we alway have been. Clearly, this is just a political move to appease The Committee to Protect Journalists and probably the main stream press in general. Be warned though, nothing is free in our political word!

    May 17, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. Paul

    The article says that the bill will "identify countries in which there were violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in ... or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media,"

    The government isn't "running the press in other countries." It is merely keeping track of how other countries treat its journalists and people when it comes to freedom of speech. It doesn't even mention any sort of sanctions that would be placed on a country. I'm not sure why, in a country that calls upon freedom of speech as one of our core values, tracking how other governments treat their journalists is a big deal. Shouldn't we be interested in how another government treats its citizens when we consider how we will do business with them?

    May 17, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. John Mulhausen, Sane Person

    Jesus, "Henry Millier, Libertarian," we're talking about what goes in an annual State Department report. Now, among other things, the report will include information on state interference with the media. It helps us know what kind of country we are dealing with. Put your gun back in its holster, cowboy.

    May 17, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Matt in CA

    How about a decree to free our own press from the shackles of corporatism?

    May 17, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. BILL, WI

    Will this modify the sniping and name calling that this administration was complicit in towards reporters of a particular news network that
    did not share their philosophy,

    May 17, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. Sgt. USMC

    This is a load of poop, why sign legislation... do it the BUSH way and attack their country until they do as they are being told. republicans mount up, these liberals are ruining our country by doing things the right way.

    I just think it was ok for us to stick our noses into other people's business when bush was President. It was ok to bomb other countries who did not agree with us. But it's not ok for us sign laws that protect other countries, even our own. The nerve of President Obama actually doing work and not taking golf vacations every month while our troops are fighting.

    By the way if you didn't catch that, I am being sarcastic.

    May 17, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Kitchen Police

    Of course it is our business how other countries treat journalists. Theirs or ours, the truth must be known not hidden by human rights violations that include false imprisonment, torture, or murder. Freedom of the Press is the hallmark of American Democracy and shouting it to the world can only improve the dignity of man.

    May 17, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. David

    This is all fluff and pageantry. If it was real they would leave the alternative press alone and afford them the right to question them instead of just the spoon-fed mainstream media that gives you half the truth.

    May 17, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Gary

    As much as we lament the ultra liberal bias of MSNBC and the ultraconservative bias of Fox, the thing that sets us apart from much of the world is a vigerous free press that presents all issues from all perspectives and keeps a close eye on government officials. Even the British with their government sponsored news agency (BBC) could learn from our media approach.

    May 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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