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Much Ado About Nothing

By Jamilah Hoffman  Posted by RJ Schinner (about the submitter)     Permalink
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We are living in weird times. I feel this is more certain watching the fallout of The New York Times article that exposed the government's secret bank surveillance program. It's like we're in a play, but I don't know my lines, but I'm pressured to just go along. It all started a few days ago when I was watching a news program that showed a clip of the vice president saying that what The New York Times did was a "disgrace." That was followed by a clip of the president saying that it was "disgraceful" that the news media disclosed the program. Various members of congress echoed the same "disgraceful" tune. I get the sense that they want us to join with them in the same "disgrace" choir, but not so fast. What did The New York Time do that was so bad?

They ran a story. They reported that the government examines the banking records of Americans and others through the Central Intelligence Agency, and overseen by the Treasury Department. Duh! I suppose the outrage shown would be valid if what was reported actually posed a threat. I mean, I just watched a montage of president Bush giving speeches starting after September 11, stating over and over again, that the government was going after the bank records of the terrorists. The New York Times just validated what was said before. The president's outrage is very misplaced and disingenuous. As with the vice president and various members of congress, overwhelmingly Republican. It's great that they can all read and repeat the same talking points, but they must think we're idiots to believe that what The New York Times did actually posed a threat, or aided terrorists.

Not that I think highly of terrorists or anything, but are they not savvy enough to know that the American government would do any and everything to go after them, including examining bank records? Why is this a story? What good comes out of this regime attacking the press in this way?

When I heard that Republican House leaders drafted a resolution condemning the reports, I felt that this was just another step in dismantling a free press in this country and that we need to do what we can to make sure that freedom of speech and especially of the press stays in tact. They say that the first casualty in war is truth, but why is this so? In times of war, and especially during this so called war on terror in which it has no end date, the truth is needed now more than ever. No matter what our opinion of the mainstream media falls, when attacks like these go unanswered, it allows for more and more attacks to occur until when the media is just a megaphone for the administration in power.

I can't imagine what it would be like if The Washington Post did not run it's series on the Watergate break-in that led to Nixon's resignation. Or if The New York Times did not run the Pentagon Papers exposing the internal dialogue building up to and during the war in Vietnam, giving the public the truth and just another reason to end that war.

During times of war, it is especially important that the public knows the truth. Trust us, we can handle it. We have before and we will again. But when you keep things from us, they have a way of sneaking out. And when that happens, you have to answer to the same public you were trying to dupe. And we won't be so pleased when what was hidden comes to light.
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Jamilah Hoffman is an organizer with The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime.
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