King Wants Times Investigation


WASHINGTON – The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Bush administration on Sunday to seek criminal charges against newspapers that reported on a secret financial-monitoring program used to trace terrorists.

Rep. Peter King cited The New York Times in particular for publishing a story last week that the Treasury Department was working with the CIA to examine messages within a massive international database of money-transfer records.

King, R-N.Y., said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the nation’s chief law enforcer “begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times — the reporters, the editors and the publisher.”

“We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous,” King told The Associated Press.

This begs the question: is the Times covered by the 1st Amendment in this case? My first impression when the story broke was yes, they are, but the reporter should be called in to a grand jury and forced to reveal his source. But, after reading it again:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Look at that closely. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. The federal congress basically cannot pass a law that stops the press from doing its job. The intent of the Framers was to make sure that the federal government could not stop the press in its duties of gathering the news as well as to avoid retribution against the press.

But, does that mean that the press can break the law while going about its business? If, in the course of gathering a story, a reporter kills someone, and it is only found out when the story is published, can that reporter hide behind the "freedom of the press" portion of the 1st? Or will they be prosecuted?

If a newspaper violates SEC regulations, publishes a story about how to do it, would they be liable for prosecution, or would they be covered by "freedom of the press?"

If a reporter and newspaper publish a story that violates national security laws, delving into treason, can they hide behind the "freedom of the press," or are they criminally liable?

Treason comes before the 1st Amendment in the Constitution. Article III, section 3. Does that mean it overrides the 1st, since it was written well before the 1st?

To my opinion, the Times and the reporters involved are not immune to the law. Releasing national security programs violates the law. And the shame of it is that the Times should have supported the United States in its war against terror. They complained about NYC's reduction in Homeland Security grants. Why do they not complain about themselves harming the war on terror?

If they had issues with the story, they should have taken it to Congress for review, which would have been the proper response. Instead, they prefered to let the whole world, including the actual targets, know exactly about the program. This makes us safer how, Times?

I'm still waiting for the DUmmies to weigh in, so far, nothing findable at the DU. I'm sure they will be howling at the moon by the end of the workday.

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