December 26, 2005 /

Destroying the First and Fourth Amendments

Well Christmas has come and gone and on the day after, we find out that Bush also tried to kill another big item news story. President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security. The efforts have failed, but the rare White […]

Well Christmas has come and gone and on the day after, we find out that Bush
also tried to kill another big item news story.

President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort
to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national

The efforts have failed, but the rare White House sessions with the
executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times are an
indication of how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that
has raised questions about the administration’s anti-terror tactics.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Post’s executive editor, would not confirm the
meeting with Bush before publishing reporter Dana Priest’s Nov. 2 article
disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe used to
interrogate terror suspects. Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times,
would not confirm that he, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Washington
bureau chief Philip Taubman had an Oval Office sit-down with the president
on Dec. 5, 11 days before reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed
that Bush had authorized eavesdropping on Americans and others within the
United States without court orders.

But the meetings were confirmed by sources who have been briefed on them
but are not authorized to comment because both sides had agreed to keep the
sessions off the record. The White House had no comment.

“When senior administration officials raised national security questions
about details in Dana’s story during her reporting, at their request we met
with them on more than one occasion,” Downie says. “The meetings were off
the record for the purpose of discussing national security issues in her
story.” At least one of the meetings involved John Negroponte, the director
of national intelligence, and CIA Director Porter Goss, the sources said.

So Bush also tried to silence the story about the CIA prisons and rendition.
Something else in this article that is very troubling for the first amendment.

The admission by two columnists that they accepted payments from indicted
Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be the tip of a large and rather dirty

Copley News Service last week dropped Doug Bandow — who also resigned as
a Cato Institute scholar — after he acknowledged taking as much as $2,000 a
pop from Abramoff for up to two dozen columns favorable to the lobbyist’s
clients. “I am fully responsible and I won’t play victim,” Bandow said in a
statement after Business Week broke the story. “Obviously, I regret stupidly
calling to question my record of activism and writing that extends over 20
years. . . . For that I deeply apologize.”

Peter Ferrara of the Institute for Policy Innovation has acknowledged
taking payments years ago from a half-dozen lobbyists, including Abramoff.
Two of his papers, the Washington Times and Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader,
have now dropped him. But Ferrara is unapologetic, saying: “There is nothing
unethical about taking money from someone and writing an article.”

Readers might disagree on grounds that they have no way of knowing about
such undisclosed payments, which seem to be an increasingly common tactic
for companies trying to influence public debate through ostensibly neutral
third parties. When he was a Washington lawyer several years ago, says law
professor Glenn Reynolds, a telecommunications carrier offered him a fat
paycheck — up to $20,000, he believes — to write an opinion piece
favorable to its position. He declined.

In the case of Bandow’s columns, says Reynolds, who now writes the
InstaPundit blog, “one argument is, it’s probably something he thought
anyway, but it doesn’t pass the smell test to me. I wouldn’t necessarily
call it criminal, but it seems wrong. People want to craft a rule, but what
you really need is a sense of shame.”

Jonathan Adler, an associate law professor and National Review
contributor, wrote that when he worked at a think tank, “I was offered cash
payments to write op-eds on particular topics by PR firms, lobbyists or
corporations several times. They offered $1,000 or more for an op-ed,”
offers that Adler rejected. Blogger Rand Simberg writes that “I’ve also
declined offers of money to write specific pieces, even though I agreed with
the sentiment.”

Two years ago, former Michigan senator Don Riegle wrote an op-ed
attacking Visa and MasterCard without disclosing that his PR firm was
representing Wal-Mart — which was suing the two credit card companies.

So now we have lobbying firms paying for news to come out. Even more
troubling is a neo-con hack like Jack Abramoff may be one of the key players
behind this. So where does this take us in the gradual decline of our free

  1. It has come out in the Valerie Plame leak case that the vice-President
    set up a secret committee called the White House Iraq Group used to sell the
    reasons for invading Iraq to the public. One of their key tools in the
    arsenal was a New York Times Reporter, Judith Miller, who wrote such
    convincing articles as “Saddam has nuclear weapons” which triggered a rash
    of appearances on talk shows by administration officials and we were then
    exposed to the new evil-threat of “mushroom clouds” from Iraq.
  2. Someone in the administration leaked the identity of a classified CIA
    agent who worked on weapons of mass destruction to try and discredit the
    agent’s husband. So far one person indicted for lying under oath and
    obstruction of justice and the President’s top aide is rumored to be the
    next to get indicted.
  3. The President is using his power to summons editors of two of the
    nation’s largest newspapers to the White House and try to push them into not
    running articles which expose potentially illegal operations being conducted
    by our government. So far we got the CIA secret prison story and the
    domestic wiretapping story, with the later being held from the public for
    over a year.
  4. Lobbying firms, including the ones by prominent a prominent Republican
    lobbyists who is under federal investigation are paying for articles to
    appear in the newspaper. Employee’s for Abramoff include Tom Delay’s former
    P.R. man and Karl Roves former aide. Both went to work for Abramoff after
    hiring recommendations from their former employers. Further more, one former
    White House official has been indicted for his ties to Abramoff. He resigned
    on a Friday and got indicted on Monday. Also, Bush’s pick to be the second
    in command of the Justice Department had to pull his nomination because of
    his ties to Abramoff.

Anyone thinking that Bush is not trying to manipulate the publics perception
of him and terrorism is badly mistaken. If you still have doubts then ask
yourself when the last time we had a terror warning was. We have been on yellow
since right after the elections last year. Prior to that the terror alert went
up and down like a roller coaster. We had one temporary rise since then and it
was only for mass transit following the London bombings. To make matter worse,
400 pounds of C4 explosives were stolen in New Mexico last week and this did not
trigger a raise in terror alerts. Luckily the gentleman were caught days later
and there are no suspected ties to terrorism but at the time of the theft we
didn’t know and the story was just a quick splash and no terror warning.

Many on the left have called Bush the new Joe McCarthy, leading the country
by fear. This is one of the best comparisons in modern history because that is
what he does. Every speech he makes he brings up 9/11 to try and strike a
sensitive nerve with people. Even worse, he uses that dark days to ignore the
law and destroy the rights of the citizens of this country. He has said time and
time again we were attacked because “they hate us for our freedoms” so instead
of fighting back and going after al Qaeda with everything we got, he has tried
to destroy those freedoms. In other words he has given in to the people who
struck us. Just last week Donald Rumsfeld blew off questions of Osama because
they don’t feel he is that “important” anymore.

Bush has shown us what happens when power goes unchecked – it ends up
destroying the fabric of our democracy. People can not stand idly by and wonder
“well is this what our forefathers wanted?”. There are too many famous quotes
from our forefathers that proved they would be against these actions. George
Bush has destroyed what so many of our ancestors fought and died for and it is
truly sad.

He worried so much about these articles being published yet he did nothing to
try and stop the article of Valerie Plame getting published. He let the people
who leaked her identity continue to work in top government jobs and even eased
the standards to which he would terminate their employment. This proves the only
leak he liked coming from the White House was the one that destroyed the career
of a CIA agent.

Congress must put aside all other items on the agenda right now and work
nonstop to get this countries rights and reputation restored. Hearings must
start immediately into the actions of Bush and if he is found guilty he must be
impeached and tried for his crimes. If Congress refuses to act on this then it
will slowly push the people into a corner to where they have no option but to
fight back. That will make these dark days in our nation’s history appear as
only the dawn of very dark times.

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