Carol Platt Liebau: Abusing the First Amendment

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Abusing the First Amendment

Hugh Hewitt enumerates the multiple ways that the Los Angeles Times needs to get its story straight -- and illustrates just how unaware some of its top leadership is of relevant precedents that weaken their baldfaced assertions of right, nay, obligation, to publish a story about a classified program that was, by all accounts, effective, lawfully administered, and the product of consultations with Congress.

But ignorance about the First Amendment and press rights is, apparently, widespread. In a debate this morning on St. Louis' 97.1 FM morning show, a lefty tried to assert that James Madison had written into the Constitution a right for the press to publish stories that cripple national security efforts.

Nothing could be further from the case. In fact, as Professor John Eastman pointed out yesterday on Hugh Hewitt's show, if one examines the structure of the First Amendment, it secures "freedom of speech and of the press." That means that American citizens -- all of us, equally, not some more than others -- have the right to speak in dissent from our government, and to put our dissent in writing.

But like most other rights, it's not absolute. Chief Justice Hughes pointed out in 1931 that the government could certainly prevent publication of information like "the number and location of troops." The information that the Times splashed across its front page was similarly classified, and similarly important.

Indeed, Professor John Eastman noted in his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the Supreme Court has, in fact, conceded that prior restraints on publication of sensitive classified information are permissible.

It strikes me that the newspapers themselves and the lefties who are defending them have forgotten one essential point: That the purpose of the First Amendment was to protect the American people from a tyrannical and abusive government. Here, the papers have achieved almost the complete opposite: They have taken it upon themselves to inform the enemy of a non-abusive and effective government program for protecting the country, thereby exposing the American people to a greater risk of harm. So who's tyrannical and abusive now?


Blogger Dittohead said...

According to the White House, a law is not binding when a president issues a separate statement saying he reserves the right to revise, interpret or disregard it on national security and constitutional grounds.

"It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution," Specter said. "I'm interested to hear from the administration just what research they've done to lead them to the conclusion that they can cherry-pick."

Specter has been compiling a list of White House practices he bluntly says could amount to abuse of executive power -- from warrantless domestic wiretapping program to sending officials to hearings who refuse to answer lawmakers' questions.

9:44 AM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

Once again, Carol, you ignore the fact that the Wall Street Journal printed the same story. Why is it only treason when one of the institutions you consider a political enemy does it? Or does that question answer itself?

10:28 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

Another hero - RINO Arlen Spector!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

From the Official White House website.....

President George W. Bush
September 24, 2001

The President has directed the first strike on the global terror network today by issuing an Executive Order to starve terrorists of their support funds. The Order expands the Treasury Department’s power to target the support structure of terrorist organizations, freeze the U.S. assets and block the U.S. transactions of terrorists and those that support them, and increases our ability to block U.S. assets of, and deny access to U.S. markets to, foreign banks who refuse to cooperate with U.S. authorities to identify and freeze terrorist assets abroad.

Disrupting the Financial Infrastructure of Terrorism

* Targets all individuals and institutions linked to global terrorism.
* Allows the Treasury Department to freeze U.S. assets and block U.S. transactions of any person or institution associated with terrorists or terrorist organizations.
* Names specific individuals and organizations whose assets and transactions are to be blocked.
* Identifies charitable organizations that secretly funnel money to al-Qaeda.
* Provides donors information about charitable groups who fund terrorist organizations.
* States the President’s intent to punish those financial institutions at home and abroad that continue to provide resources and/or services to terrorist organizations.

Authorities Broadened
The new Executive order broadens existing authority in three principal ways:

* It expands the coverage of existing Executive orders from terrorism in the Middle East to global terrorism;
* The Order expands the class of targeted groups to include all those who are “associated with” designated terrorist groups; and
* Establishes our ability to block the U.S. assets of, and deny access to U.S. markets to, those foreign banks that refuse to freeze terrorist assets.

Blocking Terrorist Assets

* The Order prohibits U.S. transactions with those terrorist organizations, leaders, and corporate and charitable fronts listed in the Annex.
* Eleven terrorist organizations are listed in the Order, including organizations that make up the al-Qaeda network.
* A dozen terrorist leaders are listed, including Osama bin Ladin and his chief lieutenants, three charitable organizations, and one corporate front organization are identified as well.
* The Order authorizes the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury to make additional terrorist designations in the coming weeks and months.

Other Actions in War on Terrorist Financing
This Executive Order is part of a broader strategy that we have developed for suppressing terrorist financing:

* A Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center (FTAT) is up and running. The FTAT is a multi-agency task force that will identify the network of terrorist funding and freeze assets before new acts of terrorism take place.
* The President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State and others are working with our allies around the world to tackle the financial underpinnings of terrorism. We are working through the G-8 and the United Nations. Already, several of our allies, including Switzerland and Britain, have frozen accounts of suspected terrorists.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Duke-Stir said...

Carol? What about the Wall Street Journal reporting the same?

12:38 PM  
Blogger Greg said...


You've made a huge effort to point out - multiple times - that it has been public knowledge for a long time that the President has been targeting financial assets of the terrorists and their supporters since the beginning of the war on terror.

This is absolutely true.

But I ask you: Is there a difference between blocking known assets and tracking transactions to see if they are related to terrorism?

My point?

Once all the known terror supporting financial assets have been "frozen", the next logical thing to do would be to find the UNKNOWN financial supports for terrorism.

But a shrewd - and serious - administration wouldn't simply find them and "freeze" them. Instead, they would track them to find out where the money is coming from and where it's going.

It's this kind of effort - this effort exactly - that has exposed terrorist activities and captured terrorists.

So your repeated attempts to claim that the program exposed by the New York Times, the LA Times, and the Wall Street Journal is simply old news already known to the public is false.

Once assets were frozen, the terrorists and their supporters had to find alternate means to finance their operations. This program is - was - secretly tracking as many of these transactions as possible.

Now, of course, the terrorists have once again been dutifully alerted by the American media. And, once again, the job of protecting Americans and capturing terrorists has been made more difficult.

I don't expect any of this to change your mind, however. And I'm not going to go as far as to say you want America to lose. But it's blatantly obvious that you want George Bush to lose. The sad irony is that George Bush, as much as you hate it, is the person responsible for making sure America wins.

Can you put aside your Bush hatred long enough to actually root for America once in a while?

12:38 PM  
Blogger Tongueboy said...

"Once again, Carol, you ignore the fact that the Wall Street Journal printed the same story. Why is it only treason when one of the institutions you consider a political enemy does it? Or does that question answer itself?"

What does the WSJ have to do with anything? Their story was ON-THE-RECORD interviews with relevant officials obtained AFTER it became clear that the NYT was going to publish wartime intelligence methods.

Carol, nice job this morning. That lefty, Mark Cassum, was in WAY over his head.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Duke-Stir said...

Hey everyone, here's more abuse of the First Amendment...

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Rush Limbaugh could see a deal with prosecutors in a long-running prescription fraud case collapse after authorities found a bottle of Viagra in his bag at Palm Beach International Airport. The prescription was not in his name.

(Limbaugh later explained that it belonged to his boyfriend.)

12:56 PM  
Blogger COPioneer said...

The left is a bunch of hypocrites, if the IRS wanted to come and monitor my bank statements, I'd have to comply, or get thrown in the slam.

If Valerie Plame is "outed" via a leak, then heads must roll...but if the press gets a juicy leak on classified information, well that's just dandy.

They are so bitter about being "out of power", they'll do anything and everything to subvert the Bush Administration and our Military.
Bush Derangement Syndrome.

As for Rush, more hypocricy, isn't it you lefties that just want to legalize all drugs? There's more than one lefty that is proud of their drug use. I'm sure you just have to go look in the mirror at yourself and then you don't need Viagra...

3:41 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Oh Copioneer,

So is the right. I remember the GOP screaming we are the party of the rule of law. Yelling "wag-the-dog" when the commander in chief attempted to take out Bin Laden and his terroirst training camp.

7:21 PM  
Blogger amber said...

Pioneer, I enjoy your posts. I think you are wasting your time with D&D. I no longer read what they write.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Duke-Stir said...


I enjoy your posts. I no longer read Amber's fictions.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Bush love is dumb and blind.

11:56 AM  
Blogger COPioneer said...

for the record, I don't love Bush, and I can't wait to get a REAL conservative in the White House. I can't wait for someone like Vernon Robinson to rise to the top. But yeah, I thank God daily that Kerry and Gore have been DENIED. talk about blind love...

1:00 PM  

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