Archive for June 28th, 2006

Yesterday I framed the SWIFT story around a single question: who should have the power to decide what’s printed in a newspaper, the publisher or the government?

Of course, what I didn’t mention are the various laws that hedge newspapers. A paper can’t print libel, for example. There are also laws governing national security, too. A paper can’t knowingly print national secrets that endanger the nation’s security. (See the Valerie Plame case.)

So now the real “experts” can act. That is, if the New York Times truly endangered national security, the government can prosecute.

Greg Sargent:

Both Snow and Dick Cheney have explicitly said that the Times has put the nation’s security at risk — and presumably they think the paper continues to do so, since it won’t back off its right to publish such stories. Yet by all indications the administration is unlikely to take any real action against the paper…

According to Sargent, there are two possible conclusions we can take from the administration’s unwillingness to prosecute:

Either the administration is putting politics ahead of national security and won’t act aggressively against an institution it says is endangering American lives — because it would be bad for Bush. Or the administration’s claim that The Times endangered national security is just the latest in a long string of lies it has told to the American people.

It’s a good point. Budge has been at me for supporting the Times’ right to publish stories like this, criticizing the paper for printing without knowing the real effect of publication to national security, because it’s not an expert in the area.

Now the “real” experts can act. If publication really hurts security, then the federal government should prosecute the newspaper.

Likewise with the multitude of other illegal programs the administration engages in. Budge again criticizes me for calling warrantless domestic wiretapping illegal, because the legality is “debatable” – though I haven’t seen too many, if any, objective voices praising the programs. But if the administration believed in the legality of warrantless wiretapping, data mining, suspension of habeus corpus for “enemy combatants, ” or torture, they would rush the issue to court.

Instead, in each case they’ve either abandoned their programs before a court could consider the case or set up administrative roadblocks to ensure the case can never reach a legal decision. Not the type of behavior you’d expect from an administration that is confident in the legality of its snooping.

And you won’t see the SWIFT issue go to court, either.

I say it’s time to put up or shut up.

Update: The HuffPo’s Alex Koppelman also chimes in. According to him, there have been published reports as early as 2001 that show the Bush administration was seeking to track financial records via SWIFT. So the story that broke recently was not new information. The main story of the Times (and other publications) was that the administration tried to avoid oversight on the program.

Another point that Koppleman makes is that the Times was not the only newspaper that printed the story. The LA Times did too, as did the Wall Street Journal.

Hey, you folks concerned about national security! When are you going after the WSJ?


Can’t say I’m surprised. Although with the other flip-flopping Burns has done recently to improve his image during the election cycle, I thought maybe – just maybe! – he’d do the right thing. You know, with all the scrutiny the election is bringing.

I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Today, the Wyden Internet Non-Discrimination Act died in committee on an 11-11 vote. Senator Conrad Burns voted against Net Neutrality.

You think his vote had anything to do with the $162,600 he took from telecomm lobbyists?

I still haven’t heard from Baucus about his stance on a free Internet.

I just saw the Missoulian’s editorial against the Missoula City Council’s decision to help homeowners with a city plan to make improvements to city sidewalks.

The Missoulian has come down against the plan. Fine. I can understand why they object to the project from an ideological standpoint, that the city shouldn’t implement a project that charges homeowners for improvements they may not want.

But then the editorial makes the following outrageous claim:

Moreover, city officials should do what we’ve been doing since this issue surfaced this spring: Spend a good deal of time walking the city’s sidewalks with an eye toward evaluating the necessity of spending some $1 million a year replacing older sidewalks and installing them where they don’t exist along existing homes.

What you see, as you stroll around, is that a good many sidewalks are cracked, frost-heaved or otherwise flawed, but generally useful nonetheless. Where sidewalk segments are missing or badly damaged, generally there are perfectly good sidewalks on the opposite side of the streets. There are places where pedestrians must take to the street shoulder for want of a sidewalk, but this rarely is much inconvenience, much less danger, at least on relatively quiet residential streets.

And here’s the kicker:

What’s needed in terms of sidewalks isn’t merely an easy-payment plan but a rethinking of the whole approach. What our city officials ought to strive toward is a functional and reasonably safe network of sidewalks. The goal should be a city that’s fairly inviting and safe for pedestrians.

Apparently the author of this scrap has never left Missoula’s upper income University District (which contains the city’s first million-dollar home). Once you leave the ritzy neighborhood abutting Missoulian headquarters and cross Russell street to the west or Broadway to the north – the city’s densest and fastest-growing neighborhoods – sidewalks are pretty much nonexistent, especially on the busiest thoroughfares, like Third Street past Russell or Johnson.

That is, most neighborhoods in the city don’t have a “functional and reasonably safe network of sidewalks.” Most neighborhoods aren’t “fairly inviting and safe for pedestrians.”

For me, the issue is personal. I live in one of the dense, lower-income areas of Missoula. There are few sidewalks. To get around my neighborhood – to go to the park or nearby supermarket – my family has to walk in the street.

Did I mention I have two two-year olds?


Criminal charges pending for INSA officials?

Burns flip-flops again. This time on drilling in the Rocky Mountain Front.

Butte featured on the Daily Show!

Oops, looks like the feds’ SWIFT spying might violate EU regulation. Another Bush diplomatic failure. (Why is it Americans have to rely on Europe to protect our personal information?)

The flag amendment stalls in the Senate.

The next bullsh*t morality legislation designed to distract and divide: The “American Values Agenda.”

A sobering moment for the President, via John at Blogenlust.

George Bush, alcoholic – part 1.

Iran appoints two thugs to the UN council on Human Rights. What’s next, Alberto Gonzalez and Dick Cheney to join them?

Rockridge Institute on Bush: “Bush’s disasters — Katrina, the Iraq War, the budget deficit — are not so much a testament to his incompetence or a failure of execution. Rather, they are the natural, even inevitable result of his conservative governing philosophy. It is conservatism itself, carried out according to plan, that is at fault.”

Digby on Rush: “He’s just another flawed, dysfunctional, rich, celebrity Republican drug addict with a taste for kinky sex.”

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