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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

December, 2007



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John F. Kennedy's Warning To The Free Press

The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today there is little value of ensuring the survival of our nation, if our traditions do not surive with it.
And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to very limits of official censorship and concealment.

That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control.

And no official of my administration whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpet my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stiffle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and public the facts they deserve to know.

For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence, on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerillas by night instead of armies by day.

It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

It's preparations are concealed not published, its mistakes are buried not headlined, its dissenters are silenced not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed

No president should fear public scrutiny of his program for from that scrutiny comes understanding and from that understanding comes support or opposition and both are necessary.

I am not asking your newspapers to support an administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence, in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed. I not only could not stifle controversey among your readers, I welcome it.

This administration intends to be candid about its errors, for as a wise man once said, 'An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.' We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors and we expect you to point them out when we miss them. Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive.

That is why the the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversey and that is why our press was protected by the first amendment, the only business in American specifically protected by the Constitution. Not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not to simply give the public what it wants, but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

This means greater coverage and analysis of international news for it is no longer faraway and foreign, but close at hand and local.

It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission.

It means finally that government at all levels must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security.

And so it is to the prinitng press, to the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be free and independent.

JFK

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