NEWS

  /  

June 29, 2006

NY Times controversy

Everyone seems a little baffled by the reaction from conservatives and Bush about the NY Times' report on the the government's secret monitoring of financial dealings. Jack Balkin had the best defense of the NY Times, or at least the culture that the White House has bread that has only forced the hand of the press:

Make no mistake: there are plenty of things that the press should not report, even in a free society such as ours. But we also live in a society in which the Executive has concentrated increasing amounts of power in itself and has used executive secrecy and national security as means of avoiding oversight into the competence and the legality of its actions. This Administration has misbehaved and misled the country so often that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that now it is mostly trying to beat up on the one remaining institution that can bring any degree of oversight to bear on its mistakes and its illegality-- the press. After all, had the press not disclosed the domestic surveillance story and the abuse of prisoners and detainees, it is highly unlikely that the Congress would have made even the feeble attempts oversight it has so far offered. In a political climate with a supine and feckless Congress the press is the only institution that has any chance of holding this Administration accountable for what it has done.The Administration has misled the American people so often about matters of national security that it is hard to trust it even and especially when it complains the most loudly; it has repeatedly disclosed secret information for political ends unrelated to national security, while employing the rhetoric of national security to avoid political embarrassment. If people now view the Administration's current complaints against the press with skepticism, it has no one but itself to blame. This is truly the Administration that cried wolf.
I have long been a critic of how lame Congress has been over the past four decades. But, in terms of corruption, apathy, political gamesmanship, and shameless showboating, the present Congress really takes the cake. You can't blame the press for picking up the slack.