Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The NY Times defends: “There’s no proof we damaged national security”

This Times editorial – “On the subject of leaks” - will be all the buzz tomorrow. In particular, this sentence is baffling: “The White House has yet to show that national security was harmed by the report on electronic spying, which did not reveal the existence of such surveillance - only how it was being done in a way that seems outside the law.”

The editorial bristles with the classic Fourth Estate defensiveness of “don’t shoot the messenger.” I can’t write a suitable response now (it’s late) but it seems to me that the Times is trying to mitigate its position by putting the onus on the White House to demonstrate harm to national security – something they’ll never do since there’s no benefit to giving the enemy any information. The pretzel logic is topped off by the “we talked about it” but “didn’t reveal its existence” head-spinner.

Follow-up – Blogger reax from Ankle Biting Pundits, Matt Hoy, Red State, American Future, Tigerhawk, and the coup de grace from Rick Moran: “I’ve racked my brains for a couple of hours trying to think of something even remotely similar in brazenness, in the the twisting of facts, in outright lies, and in sheer, breathtaking arrogance toward its readers but cannot for the life of me come up with anything that approaches the intellectual corruption and demonstrable immorality represented in this cynical 300 word essay defending its outing of the top secret NSA intercept program.” (Multiple hat tips to Memeorandum)

Extra – NY Times “Kremlinologist” (according to Hotline) Tom Maguire reviews the NY Times editorial and parries with Senate testimony and other tasty facts.


Dan M said...

It would require FURTHER revelations to make such a proof, as the NYT well knows. Moreover, they know that the administration doesn't desire any subsequent airing of what we know, what we suspect, and what we don't know.

This is the Mary Mapes/Dan Rather defense. The documents were not conclusively demonstrated to be fraudulent, so it was fine to run with the story. Now we have the national security variation thereof, "the administration hasn't demonstrated to a certainty that national security was harmed, so it was fine to run with the story." No mention during this lame defense is made of the level of good faith that ought to be extended to any administration during a time of war.

The NYT is simply disgraceful.

They make my stomach turn.

Anonymous said...

Pop a Tums. Two words: Pentagon Papers. Yeah, posterity has been so brutal to the Times over that "disgraceful" leak "during a time of war." Fortunately, no one bought the "national security" lie then, either.

Brian said...

So basically the Times is saying "Accurate but fake."

Anonymous said...

I guess we'll have to wait for the next terrorist attack on New York. The only problem is that if the bad guys get their way there won't be any New York Times for us to say 'told you so.'

Sanctimonious Bastards.

Does anyone know the date when "American" journalists stopped being citizens of this country and started being "world citizens"?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do. It was 1787.

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
--Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787

Anonymous said...

It's been hilarious to hear some of the same people who insisted that Valerie Plame's CIA identity was citywide knowledge for years, and thus she couldn't even have been "outed"... but that the U.S.A. tapping enemy phones was the Secret of the Century until last week. Have some mustard on that pretzel logic, boys.

JoeFriday said...

doesn't that sound eerily similar to comments made by Mary Mapes when asked why CBS didn't authenticate the Rathergate memos.. Reporter Brian Ross asked "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn't that really what journalists do?" Whereupon Mapes responded "No, I don't think that's the standard."

you see, reporters don't need to prove things.. according to them, they can make any sort of accusations, and the burden of proof lies on the accused.. standard slander/libel procedure

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the date when Americans stopped being responsible citizens by requiring their President to uphold the laws of this nation?

W admitted that he circumvented FISA law and the secret court. When he said that he said that the Times article was accurate. If he had upheld the law and followed procedure there would have been no leak and no article.

Why does George Bush hate America?

JoeFriday said...

that must be the same day Bush was 'selected, not elected'.. and you're mixing up your DU talking points, gridlock.. W doesn't hate americans.. he just hates black people

Anonymous said...

Those intercepts have been a common practice over the years, and their legality is well established, but keep talking, liberals -- keep reminding us why you simply cannot be taken seriously with national security issues.

Anonymous said...

Is that what supporting Bush requires these days? You consider abiding by the law to be a "DU talking point"?

JoeFriday said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JoeFriday said...

I'm confused... what does 'hating America' have to do with abiding by the law?

JoeFriday said...

oh wait.. maybe you were referring to the recent New York Times article that claims that the NSA didn't directly involve the President


Anonymous said...

Sorry to confuse you Joe Friday.

The President of the United States of America is sworn to uphold the laws of the nation. By circumventing FISA, this president has put himself above the law and shows contempt for America and its citizens.

And if you "conservatives" would pull your heads out of your asses for 10 seconds... No one has said that the intercepts are illegal. We expect the NSA to conduct wiretaps in an attempt to root out enemies of state. The only point being contested is the admin's sidestepping of obtaining a warrant. And if you bothered to read the FISA Act of 1978, you'll see that a warrant can be issued up to 72 hours AFTER THE FACT.
It's a simple procedure. And if the President, Attorney General and there advisors can't follow simple procedure and the laws of the United States of America, then as patriotic citizens of this country, we should call him on it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying. For a second there, I was taking you seriously.

Anonymous said...

Joe, thanks again for pointing out the article entitled "NSA acted on its own". You're right. After 9/11 NSA did act on its own, based on an old Reagan executive order, #12333. Take a look at section 2.5. It details out the need for Attorney General approval and the need to conduct surveillance in accordance with FISA. So we know that Ashcroft would have had to approve the taps and that a court order from FISA would have to be granted.

Then Pelosi wrote a letter asking if the head of NSA had been directed to act by the president. He had not.

Then in 2002, the NSA sought direction form the President and the president entered a new executive order. So from 9/11/01 to somtime in early 2002 the NSA acted independent of the president's direction, but with the knowledge of the Attorney General. However, from 2002 to today, it has been acting on the president's direction to conduct surveillence and sidestep the FISA Act of 1978 and the FISA secret court. So really, you should read all of the story before you post it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying. For a second there, I was taking you seriously.

Anonymous said...

In particular, this sentence is baffling: “The White House has yet to show that national security was harmed by the report on electronic spying, which did not reveal the existence of such surveillance - only how it was being done in a way that seems outside the law.”

You must be easily baffled. The sentence makes sense by itself, and in context. What it says is that presidents have always had the legal ability to surveil. This is undisputed. So the alleged "revelation by the New York Times" that wiretapping was occurring in secret was no revelation at all. America's enemies already take measures against being heard because they (correctly) believe efforts are being made to intercept their information. Therefore, the suggestion that Osama bin Laden & Co. were "tipped off" by the treasonous Times is an absurdity. Specifically, it is an absurdity offered with the intent of distracting from the crux of the story, and the only fresh news: that Bush's administration (ahem) seemingly broke the law.

Posters' comparisons to Mary Mapes, "accurate but fake," "pretzel logic," etc. are specious. Not even GOP shills are contradicting the particulars of the Times report. Because they cannot, they instead accuse the Times of destroying unknown ongoing investigations. Amazingly, this purported harm occurred in less time than it would have taken Bush to retroactively acquire a warrant.

As anyone not shaking pom-poms should recognize, the damage in this story becoming public is not to our national security, but to George W. Bush's reputation and political clout. In lieu of a legally sound explanation, Bush has chosen to assail, and sic investigators on, the press. Hence the location of the onus. The Times has seemingly backed up its charge against Bush. The onus now falls to Bush to prove the Times did wrong by printing a truthful story. He has 200+ years of U.S. history against him.

Anonymous said...

That's some "coup de grace" from the almost-aptly-named Rick Moran. He continues:
Either you believe there is a grave threat to the Republic and will do everything in your power to support the government’s legitimate efforts to protect us or you believe that abstract notions and ivory tower formulations of Constitutional limits on the exercise of executive power should outweigh the judgment of people who we elected to protect us from harm. The debate over executive authority itself is not the issue.

The last sentence falls under the category "a wish is a dream your heart makes." As for the binary choice Moran offers right before it, I have this pithy rebuttal: No. His either/or choice is a stupid one. Anyone who thinks the American way is now a Choose-Your-Adventure book with just two pages - hurdle the law or break out the bodybags - is a person who already decided everything about everything a long time ago. Those "abstract notions and ivory tower formulations" Moran dismisses are what make us the country everyone supposedly wants to emulate, or destroy, remember? Are there gray areas of security, and of civil liberties, that mesh uneasily? Of course. But handling two jobs at once is something capable grownups do.

Back to the philippic. After blasting the Times' "intellectual corruption" and "calumnious thinking," Moran goes on to write that the "top secret NSA intercept program" ruined by the Times wasn't even secret (!):
But did President Bush “secretly authorize” the intercept program? Considering that the program’s legality was vetted through the Department of Justice on a monthly basis as well as being examined by White House lawyers and attorneys at the NSA itself not to mention several Congressional briefings, it would seem that the Time’s definition of “secret” needs an overhaul. If the Times means that the President didn’t inform their reporters of the program then they have a case. But if the Times means that no one else knew about the intercept program, they are lying.

So the calumnious Times brazenly outed a non-secret program? Yet they still managed to increase the odds of "having our citizens incinerated"? I'd say that's a full day at the office.

Here, Moran breaks out a fascinating defense even the White House hasn't floated:
The program has at least the veneer of legality in how it was vetted. Any judgment that it was unconstitutional or even illegal can only be made by an examination of the program in its totality...

An examination that, naturally, could never begin if Bush had his way. And sure, maybe it's not legal, but at least they say it is. Wooo! Go veneer!

Still, you gotta love the judicial certainty from someone who types the phrase "unconstitutional or even illegal" with a straight face.

Finally, I'd like to unite two Moran quotes from that masterpiece which deserved to be brought together:
1. ...the Times assumes that we should simply take their word as gospel and that everything the leaker has related to Mr. Risen, the Times reporter, is completely truthful and not colored in any way that would cast aspersions on any individuals. In fact, the Times assumes that everything on its pages should be taken as the truth, as something handed down from above and placed on the pages of that august and honorable institution by the finger of God
2. ...in fact, what little we know would tend to point to the opposite case; that the program was necessary in the aftermath of 9/11 to protect us.

Surrounding those two observations, Moran mentions something about the Times' "dripping hypocrisy" and "egregious violations of logic" and "partisanship." But I've quoted enough from this gem of a piece. Thank you, Viking Pundit, for bringing it to our attention.

Still, Moran does succeed in comparing the Times editorial to a huge turd clogging up a toilet bowl. I guess that must equal a "coup de grace" for all the veneer fans out there.