A collection of recent funny, fascinating, nonsensical or just notable newsworthy quotations.
From the Summer 2002 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 64.
“I say the following with a heavy heart, but if there were an ‘Osama bin Laden’ award given out by al Qaeda, I believe that it would be awarded to the U.S news media for their investigative reporting. This type of reporting — carrying specifics about U.S. vulnerabilities — must be stopped or censored.”
— Dennis Pluchinsky, senior intelligence analyst with the Diplomatic Security Service in the U.S. Department of State, in a guest column for the Washington Post.
“We’ve got to do whatever it takes — if it takes sending SWAT teams into journalists’ homes — to stop these leaks.”
— James B. Bruce of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, addressing the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., according to a report on NewsMax.com. Bruce says his talk was off the record, it reflected only his personal views, he does not purport to represent the CIA or other intelligence organizations, and his quotation was grossly mischaracterized. The reference to SWAT teams was concerned with recovery of stolen classified information, he says, not to stop journalists from printing leaks. NewsMax.com later removed the article from its site.
“I think a lot interviewers have backed off being tough. And it’s a shame. I mean, Ashcroft has put the fear of God into reporters.”
— Andy Rooney on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” explaining why he thinks reporters refrain from questioning government actions and their fears of being deemed unpatriotic.
“But after the fireworks, a nation needs to show more than fear — we need to demonstrate pride, purpose and confidence in the openness that got us through the first 226 years.”
— Washington Post writer Marc Fisher in a pre-Fourth of July column.
“Do you communicate by your actions, by your voice, by your way of going about your business, that openness that is so characteristic of the American way?”
— Secretary of State Colin Powell, addressing the 65th Specialist and 105th Junior Officer classes of Foreign Service officers who will represent the United States abroad.
“The only shrapnel and bullets and blood samples that were picked up by U.S. forces were picked up by the fact-finding team that we had a reporter with, who reported that we picked up shell casings and shrapnel and blood.”
— military spokesman Roger King pointing to published news reports as evidence that the U.S. military has not covered up evidence of a July 1 air strike in Afghanistan that locals say killed dozens of people celebrating a wedding.
“Several events have occurred which have caused me to become even more convinced that court-ordered secrecy agreements adversely affect public safety and should be strongly discouraged, if not disallowed entirely, by our court.”
— U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joe Anderson in Columbia, S.C., in a letter to other federal judges and lawyers across the state.
“The fight against terrorism is a fight to secure civil liberties. Security secures something and what we’re securing is freedom. . . . Our effort is not to impair civil liberties but to save them.”
— Attorney General John Ashcroft speaking to reporters gathered in Budapest, Hungary, where he was investigating an alleged al-Qaeda plot.
“I firmly believe that after X period of time, presidential papers, except for the most highly-sensitive documents involving our national security, should be made available to the public, and the sooner the better. . . . I can tell you research people who go to various libraries are very grateful that many of the documents in most presidential libraries are available.”
— former President Gerald Ford discussing the release of White House papers at a National Press Club luncheon.
“The sole reason for classifying this kind of basic information is to squelch criticism about the missile defense program.”
— Sen. Robert Byrd (D-Va.) criticizing White House and congressional efforts to seal information about the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency from public view.
“This court will not allow the government to cloak its violations of plaintiff’s First Amendment rights in a blanket of national security.”
— U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, ruling on June 10 that the federal courts have the authority to review government efforts to censor a book about China’s nuclear weapons program.
“The overwhelming majority of journalists and news organizations we deal with treat matters of national security and operational security very seriously.”
— Assistant Defense Secretary Victoria Clarke, commenting to a Boston Globe columnist on how well the news media handles issues of national security.