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Rogues' gallery of press-pass holders

WASHINGTON – Communist China’s state-run news service has more reporters covering Congress than the Chicago Sun-Times and New York Post combined. More than the Houston Chronicle, in fact, or even Defense Daily.

Yet Xinhua News Agency is considered by the Pentagon to be a front for Beijing intelligence-gathering operations. In short, its reporters are trained to spy on the U.S, says William C. Triplett II, a former Senate aide who specializes in Chinese espionage.

So who gave Xinhua, which recently was blocked from moving its bureau closer to the Pentagon, security clearance to cover Congress? A quasi-governmental group of U.S. journalists known collectively as the Standing Committee of Correspondents for the Senate Press Gallery.

The panel is bound by Senate rules to limit the issuance of press passes to “bona fide correspondents of repute in their profession.” They cannot be “engaged in any lobbying activity,” or “paid publicity or promotion work.”

How the official propaganda organ of a major police state, one with ICBMs aimed at U.S. cities, got around the rules is not clear. Gallery gatekeepers operate largely in secret.

But Xinhua [SHEEN-hwa] is not the only state-run news organization with press credentials.

The Standing Committee also has OK’d for unfettered access to the halls of Congress another Beijing organ.

But this one happens to be the favorite newspaper of the soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army, which is currently threatening democratic Taiwan.

Beijing-based China Youth Daily, started in 1951, is run by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.

It targets mainland Chinese between the ages of 20 and 40, and is “popular with the young soldiers” of the PLA, said one of the paper’s Washington reporters.

A Chinese Communist Party official recently told all Chinese journalists (including China Central Television, which also has a press pass through the Senate Radio-TV Gallery) to toe the line in the run-up to the 16th Party Congress in October.

According to Xinhua, central press units were reminded “to promote socialist democratic politics, while continuing to adhere to the Four Basic Principles of keeping to the socialist road (and) upholding the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the Communist Party and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.”

The Standing Committee also counts among “bona fide” journalists the Vietnam News Agency – the official voice of the communist government in Hanoi. Three of its reporters had hard passes as of the beginning of this year.

And then there’s Al-Ahram, Egypt’s most respected newspaper. It’s controlled by the government.

In fact, Cairo appoints the paper’s editors and owns its presses.

Al-Ahram has been filled with anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“The Jews and the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad are behind this vicious attack on the United States,” Al-Ahram said in October.

The paper also published an article thanking Hitler on behalf of Palestinians.

Some of its cartoons have lionized Osama bin Laden and belittled America, while condemning U.S. bombing in Afghanistan.

Two Al-Ahram reporters have congressional hard passes.

Al-Madinah Newspaper, part of the Saudi press, also is a member of the Senate Press Gallery.

Most recently, the Riyadh-based paper called for the U.S. to be sued over the killing of Palestinians and Arabs by U.S.-made weapons supplied by Israel.

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee continues to deny WorldNetDaily.com press credentials.

The popular newssite has appealed the decision to the Senate Rules Committee, and is threatening a lawsuit naming members of the committee and possibly their employers.

“Not only are some of the people they’ve accredited not journalists, but they’re potential security threats – the one thing that should matter for credentialing people to cover Congress,” said WND founder and Editor Joseph Farah.

Click here for list of Senate Daily Press Gallery Members

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