Saturday, February 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: An alarming abuse of power

The Obama administration has had nearly a week and still cannot cough up a legitimate reason for having secretly pried into records for phones used by some 100 journalists at the Associated Press. This looks like a fishing expedition that was less about protecting national security than abusing power to silence would-be government whistle-blowers, intimidate the press and chill the public debate over the administration's handling of terrorism cases.

Attorney General Eric Holder defended the seizure of the phone records this week, calling an AP report on the foiling of a terrorist plot by a Yemeni branch of al-Qaida the product of "the top two or three most serious leaks that I've ever seen."

But the nation's chief law enforcement officer might want to get his story straight with the nation's top intelligence chief. John Brennan testified during his Senate confirmation hearing to become CIA director earlier this year that an al-Qaida plan in 2012 to detonate a bomb on an U.S.-bound airplane was "never a threat to the American public" because "we had inside control of the plot."

The sweeping nature of the phone record search was breathtaking. The Justice Department subpoenaed call records for 20 office and personal phones of Associated Press reporters and editors. The call logs came from phones in three states and five area codes, and included records from the AP's Hartford, Conn., New York and Washington, D.C., offices.

Associated Press president Gary Pruitt said the news agency held the story on the foiled plot in May 2012 until after federal officials had assured the organization that any security concern had passed. That is in line with Brennan's congressional testimony and in keeping with the long-standing practice by established media organizations to communicate with the White House in advance of disclosing sensitive national security information. The AP had agreed to a White House request a week earlier to temporarily withhold publication about the plot because the operation was still under way. According to the Justice Department, the federal government seized the phone records from AP editors and reporters who were involved in preparing the story during April and May 2012.

The AP was not notified in advance or given an opportunity to challenge the subpoenas, as is customary. That dodge enabled the Justice Department to avoid having to prove its search for the records was narrowly tailored and that the information could not obtained in any other way.

Holder raised more concerns than he calmed on Wednesday in his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, promising with an almost complete lack of urgency to seek an "after-action" report once the case is resolved. The White House announced its support for reviving legislation that would create a shield law providing greater protections for reporters who refuse to identify their confidential sources. But these stalling tactics and makeover campaigns are no substitute for the administration coming clean on why it secretly threw a net over one of the most respected and active media organizations in the country, and why the government acknowledged the search only last week. Its indifference to open government, privacy and due process rights should be as alarming to the general public as it is to the nation's working press.

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Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18