|BuzzFlash News Analysis|
June 27, 2006
|GET BUZZFLASH ALERTS||NEWS ANALYSIS ARCHIVES|
GOP Threats to NY Times for Reporting on Transaction Monitoring Is Critical Threat to Free Press
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
It is hard to imagine that a group who has been so wrong about so many things could get so upset about someone looking over their shoulders. But that is just what is happening now that the Bush Administration and leading Republicans have criticized – and even called for a criminal investigation of – The New York Times for reporting on the secret monitoring of financial transactions across the globe.
If a terrorist group was so inept as to be previously unaware that the U.S. government was trying to monitor their monetary transactions, they probably were of little risk (like the Miami “terrorist wannabes” who allegedly wanted to blow up the Sears Tower with their invisible bombs).
Are Americans so gullible that they believe that terrorists don’t already assume that the U.S. is spying on phone calls and bank transactions? If so, let’s just say that the terrorists aren’t as dumb as everyone who believes that the NY Times’ story gave information to the terrorists that they didn’t already have.
The monitoring itself appears to be technically, or at least possibly, legal, although it is certainly troublesome for the billions of people around the globe who aren’t terrorists and don’t want to be spied on. However, it is the threats to the NY Times for doing its job that are most disturbing.
The First Amendment explicitly protects not only freedom of speech, but freedom of the press. Our founders knew firsthand how dangerous it could be to have government censorship of newspapers. It is thus critically important that we have groups like the NY Times (and, of course, BuzzFlash) to spread information.
Obviously it could be dangerous to publicize specific details on government security matters, just like it is dangerous to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. However, The Times has threatened the War on Terror by breaking the story just as much as Bush does by repeating his threats about it, which is to say not at all.
Ultimately, we live in a democracy where the people get to decide who will represent them. While it would be convenient for Bush and Republicans in Congress to act in secret to remove any accountability for their actions, informed voting would be impossible.
We should be able to know what our elected officials are doing, and if they were doing a good job they would want us to know about it. How many times can they get away with just saying “trust us” when we already know that we can’t?
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS