June 28, 2006
As part of ongoing efforts this week to demonize the New York Times for publishing information on the SWIFT anti-terrorism banking surveillance program which was leaked to the Times by Federal employees, and despite the fact that any self-respecting terrorist has probably already figured out that it’s not a good idea to transfer money in and out of the United States, Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), says he wants the Times tried for treason.
Although other newspapers with larger circulations such as The Wall St. Journal and the Los Angeles Times covered the SWIFT story and although information on the “secret” program has been available on the United Nations’ website since 2002, Mr. Bunning’s draconian approach to the Times and a free press in general is not without precedent for him. In 2003, he said that then-NBC war correspondent Peter Arnett should be “tried as a traitor” for remarks Arnett made in Baghdad while covering the Iraq War. Arnett, a naturalized U.S. citizen, commented that the administration’s “first war plan has just failed because of Iraqi resistance…Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces.”
A member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Bunning is one of the most conservative members of Congress and was chosen by Time magazine as one of “America’s Five Worst Senators” in April 2006. In a 2004 Louisville appearance, Bunning distinguished himself by saying: “Let me explain something: I don’t watch the national news, and I don’t read the paper…I watch Fox News to get my information.” Ah, that would explain the flat lining!
Runner-up in the demonization sweeps is Rep. Pete King (R-NY), who branded the Times as “recidivists” and “serial criminals” on Anderson Cooper’s CNN evening news broadcast of 28 June.
Read about a fear-mongerer who is sometimes mistaken for a journalist.
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