We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.
--Edward R. Murrow
The Republicans, having sensed another pot of shit they can stir up to benefit their midterm election hopes, have decided to pigpile on the New York Times, by not only calling it "disgraceful," but also going as far as calling for the paper's credentials to be revoked.
I shit you not:
President Bush calls the conduct of the New York Times "disgraceful." Vice President Cheney objects to the paper having won a Pulitzer Prize. A Republican congressman wants the Times prosecuted. National Review says its press credentials should be yanked. Radio commentator Tammy Bruce likens the paper to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Unbelievable. The New York Times shows the faintest hint of balls, and the Republican machine goes crazy, going so far as to want to revoke the paper's Congressional credentials. They've got to be kidding. Right? Because the last I knew, it's the press' job to inform the people of what their government is doing with the money and rights the people forfeit to participate in this democracy. If the government is violating the people's trust, the people have a right to know. I can't really walk into the halls of Congress or into meetings between the President and whomever concocted this bank-account scheme, so I trust the press to do it for me.
I just can't believe how easily this administration can get away with tossing out the "we're doing this so you stay safe from terrorists" in the eyes of the press. The majority of the press is swallowing this without even a question.
Of course, the Democrats aren't much help either:
Most Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, lay low. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sidestepped a question yesterday about whether the Times should be prosecuted. Similarly, while the conservative blogosphere was on fire over the Times, many liberal Web sites ignored the controversy.
Speaking of not having any balls; ladies and gentlemen, your Democratic party! What the hell happened to them? Why are the Democrats pussyfooting around this issue? This is where they could shine. Hillary Clinton could come out, machine gun in each hand, shooting bullets of "freedom of speech" and "attempting to stifle the press" and "the terrorists have won if we take away the right to privacy that is essential to our democracy." It's not like this is an isolated incident. Does anyone else remember the domestic wiretapping program? It wasn't in the Nixon administration, folks. It's happening now.
Also, THANK YOU:
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press, questioned how groundbreaking the Times banking report was. "Wouldn't you think any reasonably smart terrorist is going to know that his financial transactions are being tracked?" she asked.
No kidding. If I'm a terrorist, I immediately know my bank transactions are being watched. Hell, I'm a white girl from Rhode Island, and I figure my bank transactions are being watched, either by identity thieves or my landlord leafing through my monthly statements. I guess if you're looking to catch the dumb terrorists, this is the way to go. But I think we should worry more about the smart ones.
William Bennett is also outraged:
William Bennett, the former Reagan administration official and conservative radio host, said the "cumulative impact" of both Times stories, and The Post's disclosure of secret CIA prisons overseas, had brought the situation to a "critical mass." Conservatives, he said, now wonder: "Gosh, is there a secret operation we're running that won't be disclosed by the press?"
He's still cranky toward the press because they found out about his gambling problems. Book of Virtues, indeed, Mr. Bennett.
Here's the thing: other administrations have kept the press from publishing sensitive information. The difference here is that a) this information does not immediately endanger American lives, here or in Iraq and b) that the Bush administration is consistently going after "liberal" publications, especially the Times. You don't hear them getting riled up at Fox News, which I'm sure has reported about this program as well. This is a deliberate attempt to try and stifle the spread of information that Americans need to hear to make informed choices about their elected officials.
I reiterate: get your free speech on, press.