view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

this, too

For more background on my last post, firedoglake and Crooks and Liars has the goods on what David Gergen said on Kurtz' "Reliable Sources":

"I am glad you brought that up. This administration has engaged in secrecy at a level we have not seen in over 30 years. Unfortunately, I have to bring up the name of Richard Nixon, because we haven't seen it since the days of Nixon. And now what they're doing -- and they're using the war on terror to justify -- is they're starting to target journalists who try to pierce the veil of secrecy and find things and put them in the newspapers.

Now, in the past what the government has always done is go after the people who leak, the inside people. That's the way they try to stop leaks. This is the first administration that I can remember, including Nixon's, that said -- and Porter Goss said this to Congress -- that we need to think about a law that would put journalists who print national security things to...bring them up in front of grand juries and put them in jail if they don't -- in effect, if they don't reveal their sources."

He's referring to this front page article in the Washington Post today:
The Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources. The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

In recent weeks, dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office, who are investigating possible leaks that led to reports about secret CIA prisons and the NSA's warrantless domestic surveillance program, according to law enforcement and intelligence officials familiar with the two cases.

[snip]

Some media watchers, lawyers and editors say that, taken together, the incidents represent perhaps the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and that they have worsened the already-tense relationship between mainstream news organizations and the White House.

"There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors," said New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in a statement responding to questions from The Washington Post. "I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad."

I caught this article this morning, and I think it justifies a lot of the points I made in my last post. It's all about controlling the type of information that makes its way into the national consciousness.

They would not be doing this if actions that were legitimate were leaked to reporters. What we are seeing here is an attempt to crack down on those few media outlets that want to get to the bottom of it all (largely, here, we're talking about newspapers which of course are only read by 1-in-10 Americans.) They are doing this because of leaks about warrantless domestic spying, the Plame scandal, prisoner abuse/torture, lies about WMD -- you get the idea.

Redd at FDL says: "Given the stories on the White House efforts to go after leakers who make them look bad or expose illegal activites on the part of the President -- but selectively fail to really take their own selective leaking seriously (hello -- Dick Cheney can declassify whatever the hell he feels like, even though that's not what the law says?) -- I'd say that's certainly a topic worth some serious public discussion...Can someone explain to me how the Bush Administration expects anyone to take them seriously on this matter when Karl Rove still works in the West Wing with his security clearance intact after admitting to discussing Valerie Plame Wilson with two reporters?...When you use the laws to punish your critics -- even to the point of abusing this to try to silence whistleblowers -- yet you fail to punish your allies for illegal behavior that violates national security regulations...well, you don't really expect to have any credibility at all, do you? And to threaten journalists with jail for printing true information on how the Bush Administration may be breaking the law -- well, all I can say is that Stalin would be awfully proud, wouldn't he?"

Love those FDL ladies!

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