In a rare display of directly confronting his opponents in the press, President Bush is condemning The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal for exposing a covert money-tracking program designed to pinpoint terrorists.
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PRESIDENT BUSH: The disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We're at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America. And for people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America. What we were doing was the right thing. Congress is aware of it. And we were within the law to do so.
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Presidential spokesman Tony Snow also blasted the exposure.
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TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know in some cases might override somebody's right to live.
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Of course, the editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller defended his decision to print the story, saying there is not enough oversight on what President Bush does in the terror war.
But the bottom line is this: The committed left media believes the Bush administration is damaging the country and is using the War on Terror as an excuse to do it.
According to The Florida Sun-Sentinel, usually a very accurate paper, Congressman John Murtha actually said that the American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran.
Now "Talking Points" believes Murtha has lost all perspective and did months ago, but his message is firmly entrenched in America's far-left precincts. And that includes The New York Times.
Bush is the big threat. Terrorists in rogue nations line up after him.
Now that kind of extreme thinking based on little evidence, by the way, is putting all Americans in danger. There's not one valid reason to expose covert operations -- by all accounts entirely legal -- designed to track money going to terrorists.
The New York Times may have reached the tipping point. The paper is chock full of far-left columnists. And now its news pages could be damaging national security. So what should be done?
I'm not sure. I don't want to see these people prosecuted. And I don't think they will be. That would send a terrible message about freedom of the press.
But in the court of public opinion, each American should make the call. Who's looking out for you? Media that expose anti-terrorist secret programs which are legal? Or the government that is instituting those programs?
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Last night, I spoke at the University of Rhode Island in front of nearly 2,000 students from all over the world, many of whom asked very good questions.
URI annually holds a weeklong symposium for scholar athletes and I was pleased to have been invited. President Clinton speaks tonight.
I'd like to thank The Providence Journal for covering my appearance accurately and fairly. The Erie, Pennsylvania, Times-News also was fair to me when I spoke there recently. So you see it can be done: newspapers can be fair. They don't have to take cheap shots, which are always ridiculous.
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