Protests against the New York Times for revealing some of the American Government’s secrets of its war against terrorism are becoming more vocal. Demonstrators have even taken to the streets in New York. Almost 100 gathered outside the New York offices of The Times carrying placards denouncing the paper for disclosing how it tracks money transfers from abroad to suspected terrorists in the US. One speaker declared that publishing the information – in defiance of a request from the White House not to do so – was an “act of treason. It also put the public safety of the country in jeopardy”.
The speaker, radio talk show host Rabbi Aryeh Spero, called for the Government to prosecute The Times – and also urged the public to boycott the paper. “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can aid the enemy in time of war” the cleric added. Protestors lined up outside the newspaper’s offices carrying signs labeling The Times “Osama’s Favourite Newspaper”. Some demonstrators dressed as Osama bin Laden carried copies of The Times. Others waved American flags. Officials of The Times have defended their publication of the anti-terrorist details by saying the terrorists have known about the surveillance for a long time. The paper’s editor Bill Keller insists that the paper’s job as a news organization is to keep the public informed of how well their elected representatives are doing in the war on terror.
The Press has a right, he added to decide what is and what is not dangerous to publish. But some of the more vocal protestors publicly disagreed – among them some relatives of the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in 2001. “Freedom of speech is precious in this country – but The Times has crossed the line” declared Deborah Burlingame, who said her brother was the pilot of the plane the terrorists hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11.