Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The New York Times did the right thing in reporting on the banking program

By Nancy Jane Moore

Conservative Republicans and the right-wing blogosphere are screaming at The New York Times for its story exposing the administration's program of tracking banking transactions. The Washington Post's media critic Howard Kurtz summed up the attacks in his column June 28.

The Times was right to publish this story. Perhaps the program is legal. Perhaps it's even effective. Perhaps a competent and reasonably honest administration would be doing the same thing.

But the sad truth is that we cannot trust the Bush administration -- they have a terrible record of ignoring not just ordinary laws, but the Bill of Rights. And even sadder is the fact that despite trampling on our civil liberties at every opportunity, they don't seem to be doing a very good job of taking care of us. These are the people who wasted $2 billion while not helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. These are the people who started an unnecessary war that made us more enemies. These are the people who couldn't catch Osama bin Laden.

Every time someone criticizes the administration, or reports on their questionable programs, they claim what they're doing is legal and cry "national security." It's impossible to tell when, if ever, they're telling the truth.

We -- we the people -- need the Times (and The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New Yorker and other sources of good investigative journalism) to shine a bright light on this administration's activities. They have the reporters who can do it and they have the clout to stand up to an administration that has overreached.

This administration must be reined in if we are to retain the freedoms that made us a great country. For that matter, it must be reined in (or, better, replaced) if we are ever going to have an effective government that can handle natural disasters and worldwide pandemics, not to mention attacks by zealots of all stripes.

I won't even get into global warming, writing from here in the soggy confines of Washington, D.C., where the best news to come out of the flooding is that the Justice Department is closed.

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