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William E. Jackson Jr. Headshot

The Press as the Fourth Branch of Government

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The AP headline read: "Justice Dept. to Probe Source of 'NYT' Domestic Spying Story." Over one year after The Times says it first had the scoop--prior to the November 2004 presidential election--I say bring it on! Without even asking a compliant special court for a warrant, POTUS George W. Bush way
back in 2001 had authorized electronic spying on citizens of this country within this country.

At the request of the National Security Agency (NSA)--which had been all-too-willing under General Michael Hayden to submit to White House pressure in conducting surveillance without a fig leaf of legal authority--may Attorney General and former White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, be compelled to make the case against those "whistleblowers" who had been appalled by the President of the United States shredding of the Constitution and committing impeachable offenses.

Let the courts and the citizens of the Republic determine just which party committed a "shameful act." The case should be heard in open court.

As for The New York Times, here is publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger's chance to go to court over something really important, comparable to the Pentagon Papers, involving genuine whistleblowers. Never mind that the brave executives and editors at 229 West 43rd St. had sat on the story for over a year, allowing reporter James Risen something like proprietary rights over revelation of a mammoth scandal until he returned from "book leave."

In the meantime, all the big-time journalists at newspapers like The Times and The Washington Post (Bob Woodward?) and the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, who like to beat their breasts over the primacy of the First Amendment, should get off their rear ends and practice their sleuthing skills--burn some shoe leather and night oil--as they go around the company town of Washington in search of civil servants and military officers whose consciences recognize a higher loyalty to the Constitution over a White House so ill-versed in the ethics and methods of democratic government.

Here is how you do it: In all the relevant national security departments and agencies start with the career officials and military officers just below the top political appointees--get a government organization directory if you don't happen to have one--and get their phone numbers and home addresses. Start calling them up, and knocking on their doors, until you find men and women who are sick to their stomachs over the unchecked usurpation of power and bald-faced lying by their bosses over the GWOT (global war on terrorism) and the decision to invade Iraq. You will find that, once the word gets around that there are journalists who really want to know the facts and are willing to work to obtain them, many of the government employees have more courage than you do, and a greater sense of shame over the acts of their government in the name of security. You will find that there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of government employees at least as willing as journalists to risk their careers.

For starters, here are some key agencies, names, and phone numbers. More instructions will follow, if needed, with helpful hints on what constitutes an impeachable offense (high crimes), gross violations of law, and blatant lying to Congress and the American people.


1. National Security Council

Members: President George W. Bush; Vice President Dick Cheney; Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice; Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Statutory Advisers: Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte; Chairman, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace. Standing Participants: Secretary of the Treasury John Snow; Chief of Staff to the President Andy Card; Assistant to the President for National Security (Stephen J. Hadley). Et.al.

Phone: 202-456-1414

2. Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

John D. Negroponte; and Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Gen. Michael V. Hayden.

Phone: 202-395-7957

3. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

Director Porter J. Goss

Phone: 703-482-1100

4. Department of Justice
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Phone: 202-514-2000

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Director - Robert S. Mueller, III
Deputy Director - John S. Pistole

Phone: 202- 324-3000

5. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (The Pentagon)

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon
England, Acting. You will discover that the three military service chiefs
have been moved down in the line of succession, pushed beneath three civilian
undersecretaries from the inner circle of Rumsfeld and who previously worked for
Vice President Cheney--starting with the Under Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence, Stephen Cambone.

Phone: 703-545-6700.

Keep looking and you will find the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; the chiefs of
staff of the military services; and the heads of the combatant commands. And
don't overlook the Defense Intelligence Agency and Director Vice Admiral Lowell
Jacoby. Phone: 703-695-0071.

6. National Security Agency

Phone: 301-688-6524

7. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security: Michael Chertoff
Deputy Secretary: Michael P. Jackson

Phone: 202-282-8010


Circulate, members of the Fourth Estate, circulate! There is no story in Washington that cannot be broken. You are backed up by the resources of powerful institutions; and mighty historical precedents for how a free press should function in a national security state.

TO BE CONTINUED...