WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party...
In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.
The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the public relations campaign had been known for months. The report Friday provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities...
But the Education Department has since defended its payments to Mr. Williams, saying his commentaries were "no more than the legitimate dissemination of information to the public."
The G.A.O. said the Education Department had no money or authority to "procure favorable commentary in violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition" in federal law.
The ruling comes with no penalty, but under federal law the department is supposed to report the violations to the White House and Congress.
Democrats: you have your homework: toughen up this law.
Make this sort of behavior a felony, with real jail time.
Anything that erodes the public trust, IMO, like this, is a greater threat to the American government than any communist cell operating in the US. It's a greater threat than al Qaeda, actually, because al Qaeda has just the opposite effect: if it were to strike it would make people blindly turn towards the government.