May 15, 2006

So ... journalists are the enemy now?

As you've all read by now, ABC's Brian Ross and Richard Esposito report that the NSA has also been tracking phone numbers journalists may call in order to track down confidential sources. Says their source:
"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.
I thought the whole impetus behind the supposedly legal phone data gathering was to catch any possible terrorist plots, not to make it easier for the Bush administration to find people leaking information to the press.

So much for the free marketplace of ideas. So much for the press acting as a check against the government. What motivation will those journalists have --- those that still hold themselves to this high standard, that is --- to bring government corruption and wrongdoing to light anymore, knowing that the government will be tracking every single phone call they make?

Enough of this "shooting the messenger" bullshit. I'm a little rusty on my First Amendment law, but I seem to remember that this is protected speech, except that the government has the right to prosecute if the leak compromises national security.

I'm making the assumption here that the Bush Administration is actively tracking journalist phone calls in the wake of the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson/enriched uranium from Niger thing. In this case though, that leak was not an issue of national security. Rather, it was pretty strong evidence that shows how intelligence was manipulated in order to justify invading Iraq.

Back in 2003, John W. Dean wrote this 2003 article in which he says:
Despite the free speech costs, President George W. Bush has created the equivalent of an official secrets act for America - and it is only growing stronger. Indeed, by cobbling together provisions from existing laws, Bush's Justice Department has effectively created one of the world's most encompassing, if not draconian, official secrets acts.
And this was written three years ago. I wonder what Dean would say in light of today's revelation. I'm beginning to think the war in Iraq had been planned all along, created as a ruse to divert our attention from the sinister backstory bubbling underneath: That the Bush Administration's goal all along was to create this uber-secret executive branch, disregarding the equal power of Congress, and systematically undermining that which we have worked so hard to achieve: women's reproductive rights, economic stability, free speech, positive foreign relations, the list goes on and on. All in the name of ... what, exactly? Money? The Christian right? Sheer insanity?

Can we impeach him now?


Laurie said...

Dude, when Joe Scarborough is calling a conservative government untrustworthy, the time has come not for impeachment, but for a public flogging!

Steve M. said...

So ... journalists are the enemy now?

To paranoid right-wing crazies, journalists are always the enemy.