3/19/2005

House gives Gannon a pass

From Tim Grieve on Salon:
The Senate vote on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drew front-page headlines across the country this week. Another vote, this one in the House, got almost no attention from the mainstream media. That shouldn't surprise anyone: The vote concerned Jeff Gannon. On a party-line vote, the House Judiciary Committee rejected Rep. John Conyers' resolution that would have required the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress documents regarding "security investigations and background checks relating to granting access to the White House of James D. Guckert (also known as Jeff Gannon)." According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Conyers told his colleagues on the committee that he was seeking the documents through the resolution because the Bush administration had ignored his previous requests. "It simply defies credibility," Conyers said, "that a phony reporter, operating under an alias, who couldn't get privileges in the House or Senate press gallery, could receive scores of consecutive White House day passes without the intervention of someone very high up at the White House." Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the Republican committee chairman, said there was no need for a further investigation because the Secret Service -- the agency involved in giving Gannon/Guckert access in the first place -- had already determined that nothing inappropriate had happened. Although Conyers' proposal was aimed specifically at Gannon/Guckert and simply asked for documents regarding his access to the White House, Gannon/Guckert himself declared the vote against the bill a victory for journalists everywhere. In a statement posted on his Web site, Gannon/Guckert said: "It appears to me that a strong majority on the committee has decided that investigating the background of journalists beyond the standards already in place is unnecessary and perhaps poses a threat to a free and independent press." There are all sorts of threats to a "free and independent press" right now. Investigating how Gannon/Guckert got into the White House wouldn't have been one of them.

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