Two old and typically biased news organizations have combined on an unctuous double-teaming against the Bush Administration. The Washington Post and the Associated Press have taken a story based on innuendo and un-named sources and made it front-page news. What a surprise.
The Post ran its story, “Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest” with the subtitle, “Jurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel.” In it, the Post makes the claim that a judge who sits on the FISA court, resigned “in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program according to two sources.”
However, in very the next paragraph they are forced to tell the actual truth:
U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.
But that did not stop the Post from filling the piece with a rehash of its earlier reporting of the story and the latest congressional calls for investigations into the matter. As usual, the president’s side of the story is given extremely short shrift, while his opponents are given a very long leash.
The AP then cheerfully piled on with its entry, “Federal Judge Reportedly Resigns Over Domestic Spying.” The word “reportedly” here does not carry its usual connotation of ‘allegedly’; its meaning here is only that the Post beat them to the story.
The AP goes on to say that, “The Post quoted two associates of the judge,” as if the associates were actually named. But off course, the Post did no such thing. Here is the only ‘quote’ from his ‘associates’:
"They just don't know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants -- to kind of cleanse the information," said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants. "What I've heard some of the judges say is they feel they've participated in a Potemkin court."
Note that their source speaks not specifically of Judge Robertson, but of “some of the judges.” Here is the only other Post reference to the ‘associates’:
Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.
And how might that program taint the FISA court’s work? “They just don't know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants.” In other words, Judge Robertson is apparently upset that useful information on terrorists obtained without his permission (but perfectly legal) shouldn’t be used to obtain his permission to glean further information. Got it?