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  Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?
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ContributorSC Moose 
Last EditedSC Moose  Feb 03, 2006 11:21am
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CategoryCommentary
News DateFriday, February 3, 2006 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
Description“Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts.” Thus ran the headline of a front-page news story whose repercussions have roiled American politics ever since its publication last December 16 in the New York Times. The article, signed by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, was adapted from Risen’s then-forthcoming book, State of War.1 In it, the Times reported that shortly after September 11, 2001, President Bush had “authorized the National Security Agency [NSA] to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States . . . without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.”

Not since Richard Nixon’s misuse of the CIA and the IRS in Watergate, perhaps not since Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, have civil libertarians so hugely cried alarm at a supposed law-breaking action of government. People for the American Way, the Left-liberal interest group, has called the NSA wiretapping “arguably the most egregious undermining of our civil liberties in a generation.” The American Civil Liberties Union has blasted Bush for “violat[ing] our Constitution and our fundamental freedoms.”

Leading Democratic politicians, denouncing the Bush administration in the most extreme terms, have spoken darkly of a constitutional crisis. Former Vice President Al Gore has accused the Bush White House of “breaking the law repeatedly and insistently” and has called for a special counsel to investigate. Senator Barbara Boxer of California has solicited letters from four legal scholars inquiring whether the NSA program amounts to high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for removal from office. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has demanded the creation of a select panel to investigate “those offenses which appear to rise to the level of impeachment.”

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In pursuing its reflexive hostility toward the Bush administration, the Times, like the Chicag
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