Gonzales: Reporters Fair Game
On Sunday, the cancer of domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency continued to metastasize.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declared that journalists can and should be prosecuted for publishing stories involving classified national security information. "There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Gonzales said, referring to prosecutions. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws." The Attorney General also made it clear that the Bush administration would not hesitate to track the phone calls of reporters as part of its campaign to crack down on leaks.
None of which is lost on ABC's Brian Ross. Last week, Ross wrote that he had been altered by sources within the government that his and other journalists' call records were being monitored. Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources program on Sunday, Ross portrayed a Bush White House that equates with "drug dealers or terrorists trying to traffic in information." He described the chilling impact Bush's surveillance on a free press using his current reporting on the Federal Air Marshall Services, stating that his sources "were all alarmed that they might be exposed as talking with me in violation of rules. So it's of great concern."
President Bush and his Republican allies are, of course, unrepentant. As I wrote previously, the White House believes its confrontational approach on NSA spying is a winning strategy politically. The likely confirmation of former NSA head General Michael Hayden as CIA director and mixed support in the polls seem to bolster their confidence.
In the mean time, the carcinogen of domestic spying on the American body politic will proceed apace.
For the latest news, statutes, legal filings, timelines and other essential documents, visit the Perrspectives NSA Scandal Resource Center.