Ever since the news broke about President Bush spying on Americans, the president has been angry at the media for uncovering stories that he deems important to national security. But we did not hear anything from Bush until the storyby Judith Miller involving Valerie Plame broke.
But in any case, Bush should realize that it is media’s job to uncover and to inform the citizens of the United States what their elected officials are doing. Especially when those elected officials are participating in illegal or unethical activities.
When someone leaked the information about Bush ignoring the Constitution of the United States, he got furious at the media, like he expected those of us who work in the media not to report something of this magnitude.
People have argued about the concept of spying and whether it is legal or not. In this case, it is. The law that gives the president the authority to do this says that he must report to a judge before doing so. If it is a war situation, the president can spy domestically without a court order, but must inform a judge within 72 hours.
Bush spied on people for months and never informed a judge. He did inform some members of Congress, but that is not what the law says he must do. So by definition, he broke the law.
But Bush has no right to get angry at the media for doing what we were given the constitutional right to do. I know Bush does not know how to respect the Constitution, but the majority of journalists do.
Last year, when Deep Throat was revealed, a lot of Republicans were upset that this man, who did an admirable thing, went to a journalist to reveal the illegal activities that President Nixon was involved in. Then it took dedicated journalists, like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, to keep their word and publish the truth.
If Bush and a lot of Republicans had their way, Nixon might have never been investigated and forced to resign.
The argument that says the American people are better off not knowing what is going on is bogus. It says that the American people are not mature enough to handle the truth. However, maybe the politicians do have a point. The American people usually freak out over everything. So maybe I agree with the politicians to a certain extent.
The American people do not need to hear about every single terror threat the FBI receives on a daily basis, but they have the right to hear about issues that deal with the President breaking the laws of the constitution and spying on them.
But to say that American journalists should not be allowed to inform citizens of things that the United States government is doing wrong, especially with this administration.
No other administration in the history of America has been this secretive with information. To show how bad it is, John Dean, who was a formal counsel to President Nixon, said in his book, “Worse than Watergate,” that Bush has created the most secretive presidency of a lifetime.
Here’s another example; Bush does not allow photos of the coffins that are coming home from Iraq to be taken or published. The reason is that Bush is afraid that if these horrific images go out to the public, the country will turn on him and the war, like the citizens did during Vietnam.
I don’t know about you, but I think censoring images of soliders lying in wooden boxes covered in American flags is something that we all need to see.
I am hoping with all that is coming out about the Bush administration, journalists will dig deeper to uncover the truth. Maybe if some members of the media were not so afraid to go after the Bush administration, the media could have uncovered that the weapons in Iraq did not exist and we could have avoided the war altogether.
The media is considered the fourth branch of government. We are the watchdogs and most of us take our responsibility seriously. If the media is not allowed to do its job and do it properly, then George Orwell’s “1984” will no longer be a fantasy, but a reality.
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.