Congressman wants to strip N.Y. Times’ press credentials

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Arizona Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth is leading a drive to revoke congressional press credentials for The New York Times, calling the newspaper's reporting a national-security risk.

Hayworth, running for re-election against Democrat Harry Mitchell, is circulating a letter among his colleagues calling on the speaker of the House of Representatives to take away the newspaper's credentials.

“The request does not come lightly, but in response to the Times' decision to repeatedly publish information detrimental to our national security,” Hayworth wrote in the letter to Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

In the letter, Hayworth cites the Times' June 23 story that revealed the existence of a secret government program to track terrorist networks through the use of international financial records.

The right to a free press comes with great responsibility, Hayworth wrote.

“We believe that this power was abused by The New York Times for the most cynical of reasons: to end American involvement in Iraq no matter the long term cost in lives and national security,” he wrote.

Hayworth gathered 34 signatures in 20 minutes while on the House floor June 27, said Joe Eule, chief of staff for Hayworth. The lawmaker planned to collect additional votes for a resolution to strip congressional credentials throughout the coming week.

Efforts to reach a New York Times spokeswoman for comment were unsuccessful. The Times has said the publication has served America's public interest.

The newspaper, along with the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, was the first to break the story.

Meanwhile, Nevada's two U.S. senators are divided on the newspapers' decisions to publish the reports.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., says The New York Times should reveal sources who leaked information about the program. He and a group of other Republican senators echoed President Bush, who condemned The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal for disclosing the monitoring system.

“Not only do I believe that they should not have published this, but they should have worked in cooperation with those authorities in our government to make sure those who leaked were prosecuted,” Ensign said June 27.

“Those in the intelligence community and those in the media right now are acting in irresponsible ways, which will cost American lives,” said Ensign.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the secret program was another example of how the Republican Congress bows to the White House.

“I don't know how The New York Times got the information they got. But they got it, and I think it shows the total lack of oversight this Congress has had on the actions of this administration,” Reid said.

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