Bill Press Denounces Bush's 'Nixonian' War on Leaks

Former co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" Bill Press, who now has a syndicated column and a radio show on Sirius satellite radio, bashed the White House's new efforts at combating leaks.

The Bushies are launching their war on leaks, says the [Washington] Post, because they’re upset at newspaper accounts of the network of secret CIA torture prisons and on Bush’s warrantless phone taps of American citizens. Bush even accused the New York Times, which first reported on the NSA spy program, of committing a “shameless act.”

The White House declaring war on journalists? How ironic! How hypocritical! How dangerous! And how Nixonian!

Yes, isn’t it ironic? Bush is now resurrecting a seldom-used 1917 law to go after journalists and their sources. Yet, not so long ago, in the NSA spying scandal, he claimed he couldn’t obey a 1978 law requiring a court order before tapping Americans’ phone calls because it was an “old law.” So old laws are OK after all, as long as Bush agrees with them.

Bush is trying to silence the free press, "our only watchdog, now that Republicans control all three branches of government and both houses of Congress."

Why are Bush and Cheney angry? It's because "they got caught breaking the law."

Media reports about secret prisons are not "shameless acts." Maintaining a secret network of torture prisons is a shameless act. Stories about NSA spying are not shameless acts. Spying on Americans without a court order is a shameless act. Government watchdogs who leaked information about those illegal activities don't deserve time in prison. They deserve a Medal of Honor.

Bush even worse than Nixon?

Not since Nixon have we seen a president so obsessed with leaks. But Bush is even worse. Nixon set up "the plumbers" to combat leaks. He also ordered the FBI to tap the phones of four reporters and 13 staff members. But Nixon only planned to fire suspected leakers. Bush wants to use the Espionage Act to throw them in jail.

Instead of fighting against reporters, Bush should just give in.

The way to deal with negative press is not to try to shut down leaks. It's simply to stop torturing prisoners, stop spying on Americans, and stop doing things he's ashamed to read about in the newspaper.