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Ear to the Ground

Bush Condemns, Keller Defends Bank Data Story

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Posted on Jun 26, 2006
President Bush and N.Y. Times editor Bill Keller

N.Y. Times Editor Bill Keller and President Bush

Bush’s Take:

WASHINGTON, June 26 ? President Bush today condemned as “disgraceful” the disclosure last week of a secret program that seeks to investigate and block terrorists by tracing financial records through a banking consortium in Brussels.

The existence of the program was reported beginning on Thursday evening by The New York Times and other newspapers.

“We’re at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America,” Mr. Bush told reporters today. “For people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it, does great harm to the United States of America.” He added that it “makes it harder to win the war on terrorism.”

Mr. Bush did not single out a particular newspaper. But on Sunday, Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said he was outraged that such a sensitive program had been exposed, and called for a criminal investigation of The Times.


Keller’s Take:

The following is a letter Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, has sent to readers who have written to him about The Times’s publication of information about the government’s examination of international banking records:

I don’t always have time to answer my mail as fully as etiquette demands, but our story about the government’s surveillance of international banking records has generated some questions and concerns that I take very seriously. As the editor responsible for the difficult decision to publish that story, I’d like to offer a personal response.

Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government’s anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that’s the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.) Some comes from readers who have considered the story in question and wonder whether publishing such material is wise. And some comes from readers who are grateful for the information and think it is valuable to have a public debate about the lengths to which our government has gone in combatting the threat of terror.


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By puzzled, June 27, 2006 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Totally agree with Comment #12449 by R.A.Earl.

I keep wondering if Al Queda is ever more dangerous to the USA’s existence than the USSR of old.  If it is not, why we are so readily to accept more government control and intrusion than we had ever seen during the Cold War?

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By George S Semsel, June 27, 2006 at 4:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is just another example of the adminstration’s efforts to muzzle the press. Sadly enough, it seems to be succeeding. An on-going poll in the Cape Cod Times indicates many people would favor taking legal measures against NYT. There was a time when we took pride in the freedom of the press and looked down upon government intervention in the media of other nations. That time seems to have passed.

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By a neighbor, June 26, 2006 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Say, Mr. President, maybe you should try to find out why there are people who want to hurt us?  Could their intentions have something to do with what we’re doing to them?  After all, America, by backing the settler-state Israel’s take-over of the Holy Land sure has hurt the Palestinian people, and your own officials admitted yesterday that our conquest of Iraq, to date, has caused the sudden, violent death of 50,000 Iraqi civilians. 
Which means, if your’re serious about doing something to lessen the present danger to America, that bringing the troops home now, and supporting justice for the Palestinian people are the way to go.  It’ll be easy, too, since all you’ll have to do, in return for an end to all anti-American violence, is take this new course in the Mideast.  You’ll know right away if it works.  Either the violence stops or it doesn’t.  Of course, you’ll have to call off any violent actions by rogue U.S. military or intelligence units, aimed at tricking us Americans into believing that the people who want to hurt us are at it again. Which means that, among other things, no government employees will be allowed to mail botulism spores to members of Congress or the general public, and that you won’t make war upon Iran and/or Syria. 
Are you up to this, Mr. President?

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By R. A. Earl, June 26, 2006 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What GWB seems unable to comprehend is the damage his attitudes and views re “War on Terror” are doing to the very foundations upon which the USA was envisioned and constructed.

Sure… the threat of another terrorist attack is a “real and present danger.” To have another 9/11 happen, or worse, would be another tragedy. BUT IT WOULDN’T BE THE END OF THE NATION.

Bush is using this issue to remove the basic rights to privacy of the person and personal information. He uses it to justify restricting a citizen’s right of freedom to move, converse, complain, and publish. AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS THE END OF THE NATION.

Oh, I’m just being dramatic! I’m just overstating it. I’m catastrophizing, some will say.

Well, don’t you believe it. Just wait until YOU are selected to be hauled off to some secret spot, prohibited from seeking counsel, presented with distorted versions of all your private and personal information and activities, and charged with being an “enemy of the state.” You can very easily become a “disappeared” in the USA today, and no one on the planet will ever know what happened to you. And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

I can hear you now… “if I’m not doing anything wrong, I’ve got nothing to fear.” Even if that’s true, which, of course, it isn’t, you’ve lost what it means to be an American… and THAT IS A TRAGEDY LIGHT YEARS BEYOND ANY 9/11.

But… if it’s OK with you that you’ve been converted from a citizen with power and control over your own life and affairs to one who is little more than a functionary of the state - a drone, then who am I to complain?

The “terrorists” have almost won anyway… just a few more government interferences in your life and affairs, and you, a citizen of the USA, will have no more freedom than those in the middle East. You stay and enjoy it. I’m outta here.

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By LaPopessa, June 26, 2006 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He lies and manipulates the nation into a war for no good or clear purpose and THIS is what he calls disgraceful? The man only needs to look in the mirror to find the true meaning of the word.

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