Who says the Bush administration doesn’t learn from its mistakes? After being whipped by a public backlash over leaked information about illegal domestic wiretapping, the Bushies have come upon a sure fire solution to all their problems: execute journalists.
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 a little-noticed case in California, FBI agents from Los Angeles have already contacted reporters at the Sacramento Bee about stories published in July that were based on sealed court documents related to a terrorism case in Lodi, according to the newspaper.
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.”
A tone of gleeful relish over the prospect of imprisoning those perceived to be the political opposition? Man… we’ve never heard that coming from the right-wingers before. Though.
At Langley, the CIA’s security office has been conducting numerous interviews and polygraph examinations of employees in an effort to discover whether any of them have had unauthorized contact with journalists. CIA Director Porter J. Goss has spoken about the issue at an “all hands” meeting of employees, and sent a recent cable to the field aimed at discouraging media contacts and reminding employees of the penalties for disclosing classified information, according to intelligence sources and people in touch with agency officials.
“It is my aim, and it is my hope, that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information,” Goss told a Senate committee.
The Justice Department also argued in a court filing last month that reporters can be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act for receiving and publishing classified information.
As if the so-called “mainstream” media hasn’t become timid enough under the yoke of its corporate ownership, now the Bush administration wants reporters to face the threat of being tried as spies. Nurses are being investigated for sedition… reporters are being investigated for espionage… I guess cheap consumer goods aren’t the only thing we’ve been importing from China.