Obama Signs Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act

Obama signing law
Flickr photo by SenChrisDodd
Today, Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act.

The act, named for the Wall Street Journal reporter killed by terrorists, is designed to raise awareness about violent acts perpetrated against members of the press working around the world.

According to the act, the State Department will now include international press violations in its annual human rights reports. This will allow us to pursue violations and report those governments who aid them.

Several members of Pearl's family were present, including Pearl's widow, Mariane; their son, Adam Daniel; his mother, Ruth; and sisters Michelle and Tamara.

His wife was six months pregnant with now 8-year-old Adam when the reporter was killed while in pursuit of a story in Pakistan about the al-Qaeda financial network.


According to Pearl's father Judea, this was something Pearl fought for all his life.

Pearl's story touched many people. There was a movie starring Angelina Jolie called A Mighty Heart that came out in 2007, but for many people, the fact that his wife was pregnant and the video of his death was widely broadcast were the two most painful components.

It's hard to imagine what the Pearl family went through in those days and weeks when he was missing and what it now feels like to see this act named for him.

I was in journalism graduate school at the time and I can remember how much his murder shook us all. Here was this man doing this important work and he was killed for his efforts. Somehow it was his nickname, the fact that he went by Danny, that always made me the saddest. I doubt the people who killed him ever took the time to know that about him.

And yet now, I hope his name -- or at least the act passed in it -- will hold people like them across the world accountable for their deplorable, indecent actions.


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