Monday, June 26, 2006

Idiot's Delight

Weekly Public Wacko #1
We've been down this road before, Congressman King:
King seeks federal probe of NY Times


June 26, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Citing national security concerns, Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales yesterday to begin a criminal investigation of The New York Times for publishing a report on a secret government program begun after Sept. 11 to monitor banking transactions for terrorist links.

The Seaford Republican, who last year said members of the news media should "be shot" for their coverage after government sources exposed the identity of a covert CIA agent, said the newspaper likely violated the Espionage Act of 1917 and at least one other federal law that regulates the disclosure of classified information.
Anyone recall the Pentagon Papers? To refresh your memories, in 1971, Daniel Elssberg, a Department of Defense employee, leaked to the Times a secret study commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara detailing the history of the United States' political and military involvement in the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1971, with a focus on the internal planning and policy decisions within the U.S. Government.

The Times duly published excerpts of the report, which revealed, among other things, that the government had deliberately expanded its role in the war by conducting air strikes over Laos, raids along the coast of North Vietnam, and offensive actions taken by U.S. Marines well before the American public was told that such actions were necessary. All of this had happened while president Lyndon Johnson had been promising not to expand the war. The document increased the credibility gap for the U.S. government, and was seen as hurting the efforts by the Nixon administration to fight the war.

Nixon, naturally, was rather miffed by the publication of these articles and directed Attorney General John Mitchell to prosecute an injunction against the Times to keep them from publishing these articles, which was issued but then appealed quickly. The case moved quickly through the appellate process in less than twelve days. On June 26, 1971, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and within four days, handed down a decision that the injunction was prior restraint, and that the government had not met the standard for proving the need for prior restraint.

However, the minority opinions in this case seemed to indicate that national security could be a "grave and irreparable" danger justifying prior restraint. The majority (6-3) correctly decided that the First Amendment rights delineated in the Constitution trumped any transient political or security concerns.

Mr. King, you're in grave danger of losing your seat this Fall. It's apparent fro your past lunacies that, well, you need a long vacation.

This isn't changing anyone's minds, except perhaps your Republican overlords.

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