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Public Relations, the Free Press and the New York Times’ Financial Surveillance Article

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Representative Pete King, (R) NY, wants the editor and the publisher of the New York Times prosecuted.

His reason? The New York Times, followed by the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and other papers ran articles disclosing a federal intelligence initiative to monitor international financial transactions. The program, designed to root out possible terrorists, analyzes money going from one financial institution to another. The media outlets asserted that the program was being run by presidential subpoenas and not authorized by warrants from any federal court.

King called the articles “treasonous,” and has called for a criminal investigation. He appeared on The O’Reilly Factor Monday evening calling for the Times administration to be prosecuted.

Representative Ed Markey, (D) Mass, claims that the intelligence program itself is illegal, and he appeared alongside King on Monday’s O’Reilly Factor to counter arguments made by King.

“The Bush administration put out their own subpoenas; never told the courts about it all,” said Markey.“ That is a very serious 4th amendment violation."

King expressed his outrage towards the publicizing of the federal anti-terror program, claiming that congress had been properly briefed and those that needed to know were informed.

“If everybody knew about it, there’s no need to go public about it,” said King. King, a quick talking Republican from New York’s 3rd district, cited the laws he felt the journalists had violated.

He keeps a list of his press quotes here.

Let us clear the air right now before a discussion of the public opinion reaction: the press is not going to be prosecuted. President Bush has not called for an investigation. He merely expressed his anger that the press had run the information. That was the correct response from his administration. Clearly, the Bush administration is not going to be happy that the press ran a critical article on one of their anti-terror programs. However, even Bill O’Reilly, the Fox pundit, said that he does not believe the Times editor and publisher should or would be prosecuted.

Therefore, the reader is left with a news story, broken by a newspaper, unpopular with the Bush administration, which exposes a secret government program, for which no one will be prosecuted.

Bravo.

This reporter will not state any agreement or disagreement in principle with the publication of secret information. However, it is the job of the free press to hold a democratically elected government accountable to its people, with the best and most vigilant efforts, self-guided by ethics. I do believe that the publication of this story about surveillance of international banking records is good for the public relations efforts of the mainstream media.

References to the public relations efforts of the press are often an oxymoron. However, reading this article proves that the newspaper of yesterday has an uncertain future tomorrow. Clearly, the blogosphere and the advent of “Googlefied” news that is custom delivered to each reader based on their own preferences show that the news can be broken anywhere and by anybody. The Times, however, showed themselves viable with their continued ability to check the government.

Though controversial, the Times flexed their muscle. And that, whether agreed with or not, is good publicity.

Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, ran a letter June 25 addressing the financial surveillance program article.

It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.

The Times may have been legally wrong in publishing information about a classified government program. They may have straddled the bounds of ethics. I am not a liberal pundit, but let me be the first to say that the last major country to actively prosecute its press for covering issues not agreed upon by the government flew a red flag.

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  • bubba

    Prosecute the New York Times.

    Have you forgot 911? Was it that long ago? It was New York that was hit the hardest, how dare you! Any way the government can keep the people of this country safe from terrorists should be backed by everyone, especially from a New York newspaper. Does anyone in there have a brain or a heart? Who cares if someone’s privacy is looked into if it keeps us alive, if it keeps bombs from blowing up our malls and destroying generations of young peoples lives. Only those doing something illegal have something to hide, what are you afraid of Times, do you have money trails that need to be hidden? You are traitors to our way of life and the safety of the american public!

  • http://www.prrag.com John Guilfoil

    Anything? You’re saying as long as you’re alive the government can do anything it wants? As long as we don’t blow up, there’s no line to what the government can do? That we should completely trust the government to always do what’s right by its citizens? Show me one nation in 2,000 years that has always done right by its people.

    My way of life as an American is that I enjoy free speech, free press, free religion and due process. The second we start prosecuting our press for trying to hold the government accountable to the people, we give it all up.

  • Bliffle

    Sounds like Karl Rove, having escaped the hangmans noose himself, is eager to hang others.

  • Diz

    haha, good one bubba. We sure as hell don’t want dem terrorists blowing up our wheelers and ‘bilers now do we.

  • Nancy

    I am far more concerned about the willingness of this administration to jettison the bill of rights & constitution under the flimsiest of pretexts for hunting terrorists, than I am about whatever damage terrorists can do, especially when this administration also is overly willing to employ hyperbole, exaggeration, and outright lies to do so.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Jesus, Bubba, you are deluded.

    I have written on my blog that if it weren’t for consistent and repeated abuses of power like the Signing Statement–under investigation by the Judiciary Committee today–that I doubt the media would be so motivated to get “scoops” about the war on terror. But because Bush Inc. is so pathologically secretive, the media must do so in order for the public to have some idea of what’s being done in its name.

  • http://www.1bigdragon.blogspot.com Peter J

    John,
    To put your trust in the government to do right by the people is the equivalent of hiring a child molester to babysit your children.
    Trust No One…Question Authority..sounds like paranoid delusions, maybe they are but they’re my delusions and for some Godforsaken reason our founding fathers saw fit to include them in our Bill of Rights. I am not willing to concede a single right to the Government for any reason, whatsoever!
    Now, this is where I lose credibility.
    I sincerely believe that the people of the United States lost control of our government the moment that the bullet struck John F. Kennedys head.
    I realize that makes me sound like a paranoid but so be it. I’m 54 yrs old and have read and watched and examined every scrap of evidence that the Warren Commission presented. These are my beliefs! This is a perfect example of information being witheld from the people ‘for our own good’.
    Once the players were all dead (witin ten years) who else was there to protect except the Government?
    If we allow the Government to hold private what we have a right to know then I could not persue my paranoid delusions. As it is, the true answer to Kennedys assassination will not be known until every living soul who was alive at the time is dead.
    The Government already has too much control over how we live and what we know. Do not give an inch!
    The Founding Fathers insured our freedom of the press knowing that without it the Government would never be held accountable by society!
    God help us if we allow our rights denied in the guise of our own protection.
    Peter J

  • JustOneMan

    The Times has been outed as “flip floppers” — check out this link to Powerblog…

    Post 911 the called for stronger finaccial anti-terror actions – JUST LIKE THE ONES CONDUCTED BY THE ADMINISTRATION! – Read it and weep – LibFUCKS- The BYT doesnt care about americans safety or catching the bad guys– Like Dan Rather and the other dinosaurs of the MSM the have to manufature the news JUST TO BASH BUSH…

  • http://www.gweissestate.com/blog/gweiss Gina Weiss

    Bubba, are you really THAT brainwashed that you believe that rhetoric you are spewing?? Do you enjoy being uninformed so much that you would give up your rights as an American?

  • Les Slater

    #1 Bubba – “Have you forgot 911?”

    911 was an excuse, just like Pearl Harbor. Both were quite different but both, despite all the rhetoric, were very welcome. The U.S. wanted to join WWII for its imperial interests and so did the U.S. want to have an excuse to step up its imperial agression following the first failed attack on Iraq.

    The escalating attacks on OUR democratic rights is but one of the welcome results.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    is it just me, or does anybody else think that things like…
    Port and Border security
    “catch and release” for illegal immigrants
    unfinished work in rebuilding and holding democratic the country of Afghanistan (including curbing their explosive export of opium)
    catching bin Laden and Mullah Omar
    Iran’s nuclear capabilities
    N. Koreas’s nucklear capabilities coupled with their missile program

    and more

    are MUCH more Important Issues that need to be seriously addressed rather than bitching about a newspaper doing it’s job reporting a Program and soem details that was clearly announced and delineated by the WH years ago?

    any chance to call you political foes “treasonous” is ok by some , i guess

    if the folks concerned woudl scream more about the Important issues rather than following the lemming Kings og the propagandists…perhaps we coudl begin solving problems rather than creating them

    just a Thought

    Excelsior?

  • Les Slater

    Gonzo,

    You would do well to consider the nuclear capabilities of the U.S. who are the only ones to use them, against civilians, no less.

    The U.S. does not rule out using them in the future, does not even pretend to use them for any real defense purpose.

    The U.S has declared that it has the exclusive right to determine what is good for any people on the planet. So much for democracy.

    Do you have any sense of what’s been happing in the world? Do you even remember Viet Nam? Do you remember the U.S.’s ally Iraq attacking Iran with U.S. backing and cheerleading by all the media?

    Do you know that the U.S. has never given a shit as to whether their allies are democratic of just plain thugs? Do you rembember U.S. support for apartheid South Africa? Do you remeber Nelson Mandela being labeled a terrorist?

    Why do you not learn?

    Many people that are not deluded by the likes of N.Y. Times see that the U.S. is a greater threat to peace than Iran.

    Les

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    Les…i DO remember all the things you mention

    i am uncertain in your writings if the “you” used is supposed to apply to me in specific, ot Americans in general

    i woudl also like to point out that many of the negative things you speak about are a function of the Administration and their policies, NOT neccesarily the accurate representation of the Will of the american People

    that being said…

    many of the points you cover are things i have talked about here on BC, while not having the same Viewpoint as what you express here at times…much of my Concerns are similar

    our Republic is supposed to operate with a system of checks and balances providing both positive and negative feedback to regulate the actions of our Government in accordance to both the greater Good as well as the Will of the People

    unfortunately, we are currently under the Rule of a single political Party, and thus much of our nation’s current Policy does not accurately reflect the People properly

    a simple example: i for one, along with the vast majority of the population in America supported the military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan, ousting the government and catching al Qaueda and dismantling their operations…

    this had almost universal world wide support

    but the Policy makers in Washington fucked it up royally, and have still not finished the Task…instead they chose to remove Resources for this endeavor in order to invade Iraq…

    to many, this was a mistake…a whole host of Reasons can be laid out here, but it is also important to note that World support also dropped off due to this policy change… as more and more of the details and underlying info becomes Public, the American people are shifting in their acceptance of this Policy…our November elections will say quite a bit one way or another on the topic…

    as for the times our Government has shown poor judgement (to put it mildly) you will find that i and others have been harshly critical of many of these Incidents including…
    1)shoring up dictators
    2) knowing the US sold many WMD’s to Iraq to fight the Iranian war in the 80’s
    3) the many violations of American and International Law surrounding the Iran/Contra scandal
    4) the Pentagon Papers (exposing much of the VietNam fiasco)

    number 4 as well as other issues during the 70’s lead to the FISA laws (which many of us in the US are screaming about the violation of by this Administration)

    and MANY other Issues

    do not fall into the fallacy that America is some kind of monolithic political entity or that Bush and his policies are universally accepted

    example: i am well Aware that much of the problems in the Middle East come from the map drawing doen at the end of WW1, these artificial borders have done much to exacerbate the problems in the region

    i am also Aware, and have written abotu the Fact that it was the US (via the CIA) that ousted a democratically elected APresident of Iran and overthrew him to place the Shah in power…the backlash of which directly leads to the current state of Iranian political affairs in the contemporary arena…

    so, you see, not ALL americans have drank the kool-aide, or are unAware of the wider scope involved in international relationships, as well as the History which frames and informs many of the problems

    it’s the Americans who control our government at this time who appear to have deficiencies in these matters…hence why some of us speak out and stand up…

    hope that helps

    Excelsior?

  • Les Slater

    #13

    The ‘you’ was both particular, and general.

    The ‘forgot’ was not just of those particular things. You seem to remember many. The real question is whether the observer of all those things has ‘learned’ anything.

    You seem to emphasize the Bush tyrany. But this shit has not escaped one president from the end of the 19th century to the present time. It does not matter Democrat or Republican.

    It also does not matter that a particular president had popular support for a war. This was certainly true for Viet Nam. Even I volunteered for combat duty.

    Afghanistan is another interesting story. In 1978 there was a coup by a pro-Soviet party. Conservative forces organized the mujihidin to counter the new government. The opposition to universal education, ESPECIALLY for girls, was one of the main rallying calls.

    It was only after massive U.S. aid facilitated by President ‘human rights’ Carter to the mujihidin that the Soviets forces were called in.

    It was the U.S. that has entrenched the reactionary forces in Afghanistan. There is no alternative that has any strength at the present time. All efforts by the U.S. to alter that will fail.

    Play the devil’s game and you will get hurt. The U.S.should get out and stop propping up those pigs.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    if memory serves the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was in the 80’s, and the mujahadeen were financed and trained by the CIA under Reagan

    but that could just be my senility

    however, you appear to mistake me for someone who condones those past Policies

    as i had hoped to show above, such is not the case

    Excelsior?

  • Les Slater

    #15 “if memory serves the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was in the 80’s, and the mujahadeen were financed and trained by the CIA under Reagan”

    Late 70s, read Carter’s Jan 80 state of the union message. Carter was at the wheel for another year.

    “but that could just be my senility”

    No, just details. My point was that a Democrat was supporting the mujahidin.

    “however, you appear to mistake me for someone who condones those past Policies”

    No. I am saying you do not learn. The present keeps on turning into the past.

    It’s usually not that we deny supporting a particular policy but often cry that we were lied to. You do support the invasion of Afghanistan presently, I don’t. I do not think I will be surprized by future rvelations. I have not been since I realized that the government was lying to me while I was in military during Viet nam war.

    “as i had hoped to show above, such is not the case”

    My main point is that it seems few learn from the past, at least at the moment.

    There is nothing to make one confident that the government is doing anything in our interests. It’s easy to blame ‘the one party in power’. The only problem is that the main thrust of the government is totally bipartesan.

  • http://www.gweissestate.com/blog/gweiss Gina Weiss

    Many people that are not deluded by the likes of N.Y. Times see that the U.S. is a greater threat to peace than Iran.

    I recently heard a newscast that many Europeons feel that there will never be world peace because of the US. And why? War is profitable.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    is it just me, or does anybody else think that things like…
    Port and Border security
    “catch and release” for illegal immigrants
    unfinished work in rebuilding and holding democratic the country of Afghanistan (including curbing their explosive export of opium)
    catching bin Laden and Mullah Omar
    Iran’s nuclear capabilities
    N. Koreas’s nucklear capabilities coupled with their missile program

    and more

    are MUCH more Important Issues that need to be seriously addressed rather than bitching about a newspaper doing it’s job reporting a Program and soem details that was clearly announced and delineated by the WH years ago?

    Yes these things ARE more important than this NYT scandal. They are also more important than worrying about a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and more important than arguing over the 2000 and 2004 elections, and more important than the issue of whether or not there were WMDs in Iraq, and more important than worrying about some gray areas in the use of FISA, and more important than whether Bush issues a lot of signing statements, and even more important than who leaked Valerie Plame’s name to the press.

    So why don’t we put all these stupid and trivial issues aside and focus on actually fighting the war on terror?

    Dave

  • MCH

    “So why don’t we put all these stupid and trivial issues aside and focus on actually fighting the war on terror?”
    – Dave Nalle

    Aaaaannnnnddd, that wouldn’t happen to entail getting up from our keyboards and leaving the safety of our walled compounds, would it…?

  • http://www.PRrag.com John Guilfoil

    For the record, my article never stipulates between Republicans and Democrats. It’s simply the press and the government which should not be involved in the former.