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Author Topic: Dear NYT, the first amendment doesn't include treason..
The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
You can't only be willing to tolerate this when there's a "bad administration" in place; either the press has that right or it doesn't. That doesn't and can't change based upon Drake's or Paladine's opinion of an administration's policies.

The press absolutely has the right. The thing that changes with opinion is whether they ought to have shown restraint.

I'll reserve the right to change my opinion back to disapproval of such revelations when this (or a future) Administration gets back in the cage.

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Daruma28
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Given that perspective Drake, we haven't had an Administration get back into it's executive-powers-as-constitutionally-defined cage since FDR.

So should we just have no national security programs exempted from the NYT's publishing preferences? What if somebody leaks our Nuclear launch codes? Would that be justified in publishing to "get the administration back in the cage." How far are you willing to go with your rationalization of the NYT's actions here?

[ June 27, 2006, 05:15 PM: Message edited by: Daruma28 ]

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Paladine
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quote:
The press absolutely has the right.
I have my doubts about this. Suppose that the NYT had informed Hitler as to the place and time of the D-Day invasion, and in so doing had intentionally harmed our national security. They might have done this because they didn't trust the Roosevelt Administration because of the egregious and unprecedented executive power POTUS had seized.

Roosevelt, after all, had locked up an entire race of Americans and ignored legal constraints on executive power more than any other president before or since, except for Lincoln. Would this give the NYT or some other newspaper the absolute right, in your opinion, to release secret information which is important to our efforts to combat our enemies?

Even if you accept that they have an ABSOLUTE right to do this, which I do not, would they be justified in ANY harm they caused the government's efforts to combat our enemies simply because they disagreed with OTHER programs sponsored by that same government? Even when there's absolutely NO evidence that this covert program is being used illegally whatsoever?

The press's freedom to print what it will is functionally similar to my right to say what I will. It is NOT an absolute right.

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The Drake
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I said they absoultely had the right, not that they have an absolute right. I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. The Supreme Court has asserted an awful lot of "rights" for the government lately, so I'm going to ask for this one. The free press is largely our only defense against the tyranny of government - some have referred to it as a "fourth branch".

I'd like to believe in WW2, that I would have supported an awful lot of exposure of war plans in order to free the Japanese-Americans from their non-metaphorical cages.

Releasing nuclear launch codes is not about restricting the effectiveness of a government program, so no, I wouldn't be in favor of that. (Although, its not like a Playstation cheat code, you know, there are guys who have to drop/launch those nukes)

In the class of, "Hey look, here's something that the government is doing - look over here!", I'm hard-pressed to think of anything that I'd veto.

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RickyB
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Paladine, there's a huge difference between the details of a specific operation against the enemy and a program which actively compromises the privacy of Americans and for which the administration, once again, willfully failed to get an OK from Congress for. Had they done that, the NYT would have had no real reason to publish the story.
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Paladine
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Ricky-

According to every indication I've received, this activity is already quite legal. The President doesn't need to get authorizations from Congress to do things he's already allowed to do.

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Haggis
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quote:
What if somebody leaks our Nuclear launch codes?
quote:
Suppose that the NYT had informed Hitler as to the place and time of the D-Day invasion, and in so doing had intentionally harmed our national security.
Look, maybe your definition of treason differs from mine, but printing what information the government is gathering on its citizens and printing U.S. nuclear launch codes or military operational information ain't the same ballpark, ain't the same league, ain't even the same fockin' sport.
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Daruma28
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Sure Haggis...if you buy into the continual lefist revisionism that has been spun on every single issue regarding anti-terrorist intelligence operations.

- Al Qaeda operative calls Pakistan from the US Mainland...government tracks it and records it. Leftist revisionism: DOMESTIC SPYING!

- Government tracks financial transactions of known terrorist operatives worldwide.
Lefitst revisinism: GATHERING FINANCIAL INFORMATION OF US CITIZENS!

So Haggis, you asked me if I'm dating Ann Coulter...so I ask you - are you Michael Moore's "life partner?" [Roll Eyes]

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A. Alzabo
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Daruma:
quote:
Could be? Where is the evidence then?

Name ONE agent that was endangered by this so-called "outing."

C'mon Alzy...you are one that almost always produces links from copious research and asking everyone else to prove what they are claiming. Right now your entire argument rests on an undocumented hypothetical.

It's been what....3 years since the whole Plame affair broke. Surely an agent that has suffered from the outing would have been reported by now and cited as further proof of this administration's "Damage to our intelligence agency."


I specifically didn't say " "Damage to our intelligence agency." And here's why:

It's actually not "our" agents that get in really bad trouble. They get jailed and used to bargain with, or often are escorted immediately from the country. It's our foreign contacts who end up in real trouble. And we may never hear about them. And I would hardly expect the CIA to publish some indexed roster of agents compromised by a blown op just so I could give you "evidence".

If you really want to argue that there was no risk to our foreign contacts by outing a CIA front company, go ahead -- but you sound silly. Seriously silly. Especially if you're at the same time going to jump all over the media for less specifically damaging offenses.

At any rate, I am not going to argue Plame any more...it's not worth the heartburn to me, an I think it's obvious to a reasonable person that the potential for damage was/is great.

sp

[ June 27, 2006, 07:10 PM: Message edited by: A. Alzabo ]

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A. Alzabo
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Ricky:
quote:
Paladine, there's a huge difference between the details of a specific operation against the enemy and a program which actively compromises the privacy of Americans and for which the administration, once again, willfully failed to get an OK from Congress for. Had they done that, the NYT would have had no real reason to publish the story.
There's a lot I don't like about this administration, but I'm not certain that foreign transactions could be said to be constitutionally protected.

An the president's been bragging about the money tracking for years. So they can't be too surprised that it would eventually get written about specifically.

The more I learn about this, the more of a tempest in a teapot it seems to be. It's another stupid "wedge issue".

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Daruma28
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OK Alzabo...even conceding your point here...why do you assume that the NYTs actions here were not as equally as damaging?
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
OK Alzabo...even conceding your point here...why do you assume that the NYTs actions here were not as equally as damaging?

First off, agents of the administration have talked about "following money trails" as a major front on the GWOT. And they're right.

And no one who has dealt in finance would expect that transactions weren't monitored. They're even monitored internally! At best, I think there are groups of financiers that have operated in a "grey zone" of plausible deniability -- and I hope that's gone now.

Maybe I'm just underwhelmed since I already work for a government agency that "finds" money. It's a yawner to me, but maybe less so to others.

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Daruma28:
- Al Qaeda operative calls Pakistan from the US Mainland...government tracks it and records it. Leftist revisionism: DOMESTIC SPYING!

So it is your assertion that everyone they listened to was an Al Qaeda operative? Interesting.

- Dude calls his Mom in Pakistan after doing business with a guy suspected of terrorism. Government tracks and records it, puts him on a watch list. Later denied a job working for the government. May be unable to fly, or called in for questioning. Or just picked up off the street without access to a lawyer, and sent to Syria - because his name is similar to another guy.
Statist Revisionism: WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I'd like to believe in WW2, that I would have supported an awful lot of exposure of war plans in order to free the Japanese-Americans from their non-metaphorical cages.
So you would have been in favour of compromising a war against Japan and Nazi Germany, two of the most monstrous regimes in recorded history... as what, a protest over Japanese internment? My God. The Japanese Americans were caged, but they were a hell of alot better off than the Jews, homosexuals, Chinese, and Phillipino victims of Germany and Japan who were not so metaphorically systematically murdered. But never mind that. You have to protest. It's all about you isn't it? I think these kinds of protests are more about the egos of the publishers than about any kind of policy or goal, or even money.

This isn't a question of whether I think the government is doing the best job possible here. It isn't even a question of whether this security program works. It's about who gets to choose the national defence strategy, a democratically elected government, or a newspaper.

I still don't know if I'd go so far as to call what the NYT did treasonous... but presumptuous? reckless? arrogant? All of the above.

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The Drake
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See, jason, its not an either-or question. What I want is to win the war AND preserve our freedom. Just like in WW2, we could have won the war without taking Americans from their homes and sending them to Nevada.

I won't take a pass on freedom so we can win. Maybe I would have thought differently in WW2, given that I could always rationalize that the war would eventually be over, and we could make it up to the imprisoned Japanese-Americans. (except we didn't)

But in a war on terror, this isn't a special case, this is a new status-quo.

I also overstepped in describing war plans. I do think that the exposure should be relevant to the issue. Telling the Japanese that we're massing at Midway is not related to Japanese-American internment.

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The Drake
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A better, if fictional, analogy. In WW2, they are trying to sweep up the last of the Japanese Americans that are in hiding around the country. There is a monitoring program to help find them. Should it be exposed? It might mean the loss of the ability to get real spies for Germany and Japan.
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WarrsawPact
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As Chester said in a letter to the NYT:
quote:
I am outraged that the New York Times chose to publicize an ongoing intelligence operation on its front page on June 23rd, 2006. By the admission of the story itself, the program to track terrorist financing was legal; it was effective; it was limited; it had no history of ongoing abuse; it was independently audited by an outside board; and it was briefed to members of Congress. What else could one want from a classified program? If the t's weren't crossed and the i's weren't dotted, then I challenge the New York Times to mount some constructive criticism that would have made the program better.
I am quite a pro-transparency guy, but I don't see the flaw in his logic. Not only was it subject to quite a bit of accountability within government, but it was effective. How is alerting the world to the details supposed to help anyone? What will you and I, as citizens of the US, gain from this newfound knowledge?

[ June 28, 2006, 10:52 AM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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maniacal_engineer
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How did Daruma get to date anne coulter [Big Grin] - she has much better legs than michael moore, is less wooden than algor, and a sharper wit than dennis miller. [Razz]


I find it very interesting to see the dichotomy of responses on the plame/NYT things.

the plame thing was investigated, with the consent and cooperation of the administration, even though there was no violation of the law because ms Plame does not meet the qualifications: specifically she is (was) not someone whose identity is (was) actively being shielded by the agency. You could make a similar argument "everyone knows that diplomats are actually intelligence agents" or "everyone knows that the government monitors financial transactions"

The NYT on the other hand clearly knew that they had classified information, they were asked by the administration not to publish it, and they did. The tranparency argument to me is a little thin when there was congressional oversight. And it the the height of arrogance for the NYT to say that in their estimation it was important for the public (including any enemies of civilization) to know about the program. why does their estimation trump law? the first amendment doesnt grant special privileges to someone with a printing press.

Would it be the same if someone were to publish medical records, psychological evaluations, bank account numbers, home addresses and phone numbers, vehicle license plate numbers etc of NYT editors because the people have a right to know who is filtering their news?

A treason verdict is not really possible, but espionage probably is. I would say revoke their press credentials for a start, and prosecute if they don't give up their source. If that has a 'chilling effect' on leakers, all for the good.

[ June 28, 2006, 02:10 PM: Message edited by: maniacal_engineer ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The tranparency argument to me is a little thin when there was congressional oversight.
As I understand it, the Times is asserting that there IS no congressional oversight, and that SWIFT is an agreement purely between the executive branch and the banks themselves. Have you seen anything to the contrary?
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flydye45
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"In other news, American Code Breakers are hard at work trying to break Japanese and German Codes. Recently, Midway was won because of the successful operations of this front, and 4 U-Boats were sunk."

Here is another example where you could say "Duh! Of course they are trying to break the codes." But the revelation connected to additional information is devestating, is it?

AQ has hundreds of transactions, maybe more. Agent Dork operates out of the Bank of Paris. Agent Dork gets captured, and his capture is revealed by the NYT in connection with bank records instead of the thousand of other ways he COULD have been identfied. Now every uncuffed agent who also uses the Bank of Paris, all their fiscal supporters, and friendly government entities know to change their accounts. Quite irrelevant the revelation [Roll Eyes] The noise to signal ratio is high. It takes time to wade through the billions of bank records. This set the government back quite a bit as the foxes have gone to ground with SPECIFIC, not GENERAL information.

Yes, the launch code analogy was flawed. This one is much clearer. Murtha signed off on this one, for Peter at Home's sake!

[ June 28, 2006, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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flydye45
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Now why should the administration be forthcoming to this press again? Respect is a two way street.

I'm surprised the Times gets Congressional or White House press passes anymore.

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flydye45
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TD, from what I heard, there were several Democrats (not presidential contenders), 9/11 panelists etc who asked for this not to be revealed. Clearly they are satisfied with the necessity and the oversight.

We cannot run a government by the whiniest most sensitive voices, Left or Right. Mother Theresa doesn't get to dictate policy to the DoD, nor does MacArthur get a free hand. In this case, it is very possible that the press had an unrealistic expectation of oversight (the same one that yawned at Clinton demanding the same phone tapping rights as Bush has, page A-13, small type).

[ June 28, 2006, 02:51 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Clearly they are satisfied with the necessity and the oversight.
Clearly they are satisfied with the necessity. I'm still not seeing any evidence of oversight.
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EDanaII
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So far, I've stayed out of this particular controversy, but, just for gits and shiggles, I'll throw in these analogies:

I think we can safely say that the Antelope KNOWS that the lion is out to get him, but, if yer rooting for the lions, how do you help the lion's cause buy shouting: "Look out! There's a lion stalking you!"?

Sure, the government has declared it is after terrorists. Sure, some of the terrorists even know that we are following them financially. But how does it help our cause by shouting to the world and letting ALL the terrorists just how it is we are after them?

Switching analogies, in law enforcement, it's the criminals who are unprepared who usually get caught. And catching them can lead us, sometimes, to the ones who are better prepared.

Switching analogies, yet again, it's the weakest link that allows the sword to penetrate the armor and pointing out to the enemy "you'd better fix that link!" does not help your allies any.

Ed.

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javelin
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Any oversight Tom? Or is there specific oversight you want to see?
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EDanaII
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I think he's looking for evidence like this, from Warrsaw's link:
quote:
By the admission of the story itself, the program to track terrorist financing was legal; it was effective; it was limited; it had no history of ongoing abuse; it was independently audited by an outside board; and it was briefed to members of Congress.
Ed.
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javelin
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quote:
Select members of Congress received briefings after the program began in 2001. The full House and Senate Intelligence Committees were briefed about the program last month.

Stuart Levey, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that there were "at least tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands" of financial transactions that had been scrutinized.

For the Swift transaction data to be reviewed, investigators have to produce the name of someone they suspect of terrorist links, a requirement that officials said keeps the government from launching fishing expeditions into the vast data pool.

The consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton was retained to audit and review the U.S. activities in the program, Levey said.

"They have found consistently the government is not abusing this data," he said.

I'm guessing this isn't the oversight that TomD is looking for. I'd guess he wants both Congress and the judicial branch to review each request. At this point, I'd say that Congress is reviewing the program, but not each request. And I have no idea of the "subpoenas" are issued by a court, or by the executive branch.
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EDanaII
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quote:
I'm guessing this isn't the oversight that TomD is looking for.
"This isn't the oversight Tom's looking for."

He can go about his business.

"He can go about his business."

Move along.

"Move along."

[me giggles!]

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Haggis
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quote:
So Haggis, you asked me if I'm dating Ann Coulter...so I ask you - are you Michael Moore's "life partner?"
Ah, the sincerest form of flattery. Too bad you completely missed the mark on who's "life partner" I should have been. And that one was sooooo easy.
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kelcimer
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http://michellemalkin.com/archives/005466.htm
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KnightEnder
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Nice webpage Haggis, can I get one of those t-shirts?

KE

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livermeer kenmaile
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I *really* liked fd45's 'Mother Teresa/Macarthur' equation. I'd love to see those two in a bitch-slap/cat-spitting contest. (Reminds me of that great title to Sherman Alexie's early short story collection: "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven".)

Seems to me that we see displayed, in the events addressed by this thread, the legendary balance between the private free press and the public government.

The adminstration has heavily played its 'right to secrecy' hand, so much so that the majority of the public believe it has OVER-played its hand. This in turn creates a news market where the likes of NYTimes can make money, and regain some street-cred as a mainstay of investigative journalism, by heavily and perhaps OVER-playing it's 'right to reveal' hand.

One of the implications of 'checks and balances', including that implied in the relation between government and the 'fourth estate' of the press, is that both sides tend to lean too far in their respective directions.

The very fact that the government and the press are at such odds on so many issues of this war speaks its own volumes. The basic justification for the War on Terror is moot. If the NYTimes had disclosed WWII code-breaking info as fd45 mentioned above, their offices would probably have been stormed by angry mobs of the third estate. There was almost universal understanding of and support for the USA's fight against the Axis during WWII.

The situation with this War on Terror is very different. No mobs or Molotov cocktails at the NYTimes offices. Not even a general consensus of outrage. Instead, a moderately interested small crowd gathers to watch the discussion, hoping for a catfight. (Kenmeer's rule: if a modern American war has to be given a name (Viet Nam, Cold, Gulf, Terror) it is axiomatically lacking in reliable public support. Wars requiring only a number as designation are inherently popular.)

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livermeer kenmaile
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Oh, and for a bit of background: wheh the Patriot Act was being presented to Congress, one of the issues was how provisions allowing for adequate examination of 'bank laundry' were either not present in its text or only weakly written into it.

There are many, repeat, MANY, major contributors to both parties' campaign funds who have extremely compelling reasons for there NOT to be simple, fair, reliable and functionally transparent laws and protocols for examining and monitoring bank transactions for dirty business.

Hence, in Kenmeer's opinion, the ad hoc, quasi.secret manner in which these bank records were studied. The adminstration is protecting both the American people from evil terrorists and American Big $$ from oversight by the American public. Both therrorists and big bankers view such inspection with the same dislike that kitchen roaches feel toward the celiing light being turned on at midnight, and for the same reason: fear of being caught.

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livermeer kenmaile
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I like how former Senator Frank Church said it. (Church was the Senator after whom was named the famous 1976 Senate nvestigation that revealed COINTELPRO's domestic spying and other government arrogations of our Bill of Rights.) He said:

"Our tragedy in recent years springs from a leadership principally motivated by fear," he said. "Our Founding Fathers were a different breed. They acted on their faith, not their fear. They did not believe in fighting fire with fire; crime with crime; evil with evil; or delinquency by becoming delinquents. They set themselves against the terrors of a totalitarian state by structuring a government that would obey the law. They knew that the only way to escape a closed society was to accept the risk of living in an open one."

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Everard
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"TD, from what I heard, there were several Democrats (not presidential contenders), 9/11 panelists etc who asked for this not to be revealed. Clearly they are satisfied with the necessity and the oversight."

Yes, but the public shouldn't be. The constitutional protection for freedom of the press is not to protect members of congress, or the administration, or any of the institutions of government, from being pried upon by the public. Rather, the protections garunteed our press, and our rights to assembly and speech, are in large part written into the bill of rights to allow voting members of the public to decide whether the administration, congress, or institutions of government, are worth keeping, or whether they should be voted out. Without accurate knowledge, provided by the press, as to what activities are being engaged in by government institutions, it is not possible for the voting public to accurately express their approval or disapproval of those actions at their polling stations when elections roll around.

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flydye45
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Yes which is why I am in favor of seeking the governmental leakers instead of punishing the press.

While there are clear laws which could be rationally applied to the Times, it would set a poor precedent. Their plummeting sales and marginalization as just another niche paper is sufficient. The mobs are there; they are simply retreating in droves. Market forces don't lie.

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Everard
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Hrm. You have figures on their plummeting sales? I mean, from more recently then the march 2006 release of circulation figures, which showed the NYT doing better then most national papers in terms of circulation change.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/02/AR2005050201457.html

http://www.nytco.com/investors-nyt-circulation.html for the NYT's circulation over the last several years.

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flydye45
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It's stock has been in a decline for at least three years. As I do more research, I'll respond more.
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Everard
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I know its stock has been in decline, but, again, newspapers in general are doing badly. THe NYT isn't becoming niche paper, its power relative to other newspapers is strenghtening, being one of the few large papers that is not losing circulation.
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frogcat2
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Boston Globe article:
Terrorist funds-tracking no secret, some say
Cite White House boasts of tighter monitoring system

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/06/28/terrorist_funds_tracking_no_secret_some_say/

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | June 28, 2006

WASHINGTON -- News reports disclosing the Bush administration's use of a special bank surveillance program to track terrorist financing spurred outrage in the White House and on Capitol Hill, but some specialists pointed out yesterday that the government itself has publicly discussed its stepped-up efforts to monitor terrorist finances since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
<snip>

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