In yet another hallowed hall of Congress, the chair of another committee, the House Homeland Security (read: insecurity) Committee, Congressman Peter King, (from New York, of all places), called upon the White House today to "seek criminal charges against newspapers" that divulged the Swift story, thus revealing the Treasury Department's secret 5 year campaign data mining of millions of financial records, by way of a Geneva firm, under the pretext of hunting down the ever-elusive Osama bin What's-His-Name. Once again, The New York Times is taking the hit, what used to be called "slander," for what used to be considered outstanding investigative reporting.
Sadly, this administration and its malcontents have egregious difficulty understanding that there is a difference between journalist ethics, and leaking, or what used to be called "snitching." When a newspaper is threatened with criminal prosecution for merely doing its job, in a responsible, unbiased way, by disclosing a covert, and illegal, practice by its government against its people, the voice of outrage must bellow down the halls of Congress, as well as the streets of this nation's capitol. What Mr. King, and any others who support his effort to bring this newspaper to its knees, fails to recognize is that one of the protections guaranteed us, by the First Amendment, is that of a free press.
While distinctions between doing one's job as a reporter and "leaking" appear to be lost on the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, as well as this administration, the penchant for hyperbole, purple prose, and drama queen antics apparently aren't. Representative King is preparing to write the attorney general, and prevail upon him to "begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times -- the reporters, the editors and the publisher." (AP) Somebody needs to tell Mr. King that the McCarthy era has been done, so he'll just have to come up with another script.
On a more serious note, we sensed that this laudable newspaper was ripe for attack when they ventured into the front lines of protecting, and defending our First Amendment rights several months ago, in December, when they were the first to report the domestic spying program, so this comes as no surprise. That said, the level of transparency with respect to this administration and its machiavellian bent never ceases to amaze even those least ingenuous among us. The underlying question may well be not why is King going after The New York Times, but what took him so long?
While King insists that the NYT is "more concerned about a left-wing elitist agenda than it is about the security of the American people," I think nothing puts the nation's security at graver risk than those whose purpose it is to stifle the free flow of information and, indeed, this newspaper is conservative in exposing the actions, and designs, of an administration which are radical and reprehensible. What's more, that newspapers, in this country, have yet to attempt to fully investigate international monetary transfers, as well as the big guns whose pockets are being lined by contracts to rebuild a country that they destroyed is further evidence that the Committee for Homeland (In)Security, as well as this administration's campaign to silence the press, over the past 6 years, has been working.
Somebody needs to tell the good congressman that we already have one king, and we don't need another. This 1950's style hysteria may work well in the context of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it must not be allowed to play out on Capitol Hill. What's more, if Mr. King, and his cohorts, want to parade around town in Joe McCarthy outfits, that's okay on Halloween, but they better watch out on Election Day!