Dear Congressman Herger;
I have just now finished reading the text of HR 895 written by Rep. Michael Oxley. I am unimpressed to be sure. I am reminded of the comment made by Edward Everett after President Lincoln gave his address at Gettysburg. "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."
I believe there are close to twelve hundred words in HR 895. However there are six words that are remarkably absent. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Without naming the two newspapers that published the details of a classified and highly effective surveillance program, does a great disservice to the men and women serving in our armed forces. They need to know that the Congress that represents them has the courage to face an attack of printed words that will surely come, while those soldiers face real danger defending our nation from those who wish to destroy it.
How many terror plots will not be stopped because the editors and reporters for the New York and Los Angeles Times believe they know more about counter terrorism and surveillance than the people sworn to do carry out that duty?
Mr. Herger, I have an amendment to HR 895. I believe you call it a "gut and amend" bill.
I hope you don't mind if an amateur gives it a try.
ResolutionSupporting intelligence and law enforcement programs to track terrorists and terrorist finances conducted consistent with Federal law and with appropriate Congressional consultation and specifically condemning the disclosure and publication of classified information that impairs the international fight against terrorism and needlessly exposes Americans to the threat of further terror attacks by revealing a crucial method by which terrorists are traced through their finances.
WHERAS Publishing the details of a classified nation intelligence program is against the law.
WHERAS The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times did exactly that on June 23rd of 2006.
RESOLVED That the House of Representatives condemns the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. We also expresses concern that the disclosure may endanger the lives of American citizens, including members of the Armed Forces, as well as individuals and organizations that support United States efforts; and expects the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans and the capability of the government to identify, disrupt, and capture terrorists by not disclosing classified intelligence programs such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.
It is my belief that the war against terror is real, and should be treated as such. Portions of the public, as well as the press may have forgotten the attacks on our homeland that bright September day almost five years ago, I have not. I hope the image of that terrible day brings resolve and candor to you and to the members of congress in this matter.