Treasury Department Attempts To Stop

Treasury Department attempts to stop Editing of Papers from Iran

Those of you who care about what is left of the First Amendment in this country should read this article at Democracy Now on the Treasury Department’s threats to imprison and fine any of us editors who dare edit a paper for publication from a scholar in Iran (also Sudan, etc.). Someone remarked that the legal penalties for most rapists are probably lighter! It is ridiculous that editing a paper by an Iranian contributor in any way is an economic transaction or harms national security. Treasury does this “in consultation” with the Department of Justice. This step, like most of the Bush administration’s Draconian moves (most pursued by Attorney General John Ashcroft), disgusts me. Let the eagles fly, indeed. (He can’t sing, either.)

I actually edit a journal, The International Journal of Middle East Studies, that receives scholarly submissions from Iran. Unfortunately, so far none of them has gotten past the referees and so none are scheduled for publication. Some editors are planning civil disobedience. This matters. Next we won’t be able to write about Iran. And then gradually we won’t be able to criticize the decisions of John Ashcroft or John Snow. I had my newspaper articles censored occasionally when I was in Lebanon by the Baath under Hafez al-Asad. I’ve been censored by the best, and I am not afraid of the yahoos in Washington, D.C. Although Treasury is issuing the threats, my operating assumption is that prosecution would come from Justice. Whenever the Bush administration has been directly challenged on these sorts of illegal steps, it has rapidly backed down. Send protest email to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is ofac_feedback@do.treas.gov. The address to complain to the Dept. of Justice about the issue is AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

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