On Friday, January 17, President Obama unveiled the rough outlines of his plan to modify but maintain the National Security Administration's ability to collect telephony metadata from American civilians. For its part on the front page the following morning, The Washington Post exulted that "Obama moves to rein in surveillance" as he "[o]rders limits on phone data." Another front-pager sought to flesh out "A candidate's promises vs. a president's duty," essentially justifying the president's departure from his pre-presidential rhetoric about civil liberties. [see screen capture below page break]
Fast forward to January 23 and scathing report by the congressionally-sanctioned Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, wherein the PCLOB attacked as unconstitutional, illegal, and ineffectual the spying agencies metadata collection program. Post editors opted to place Ellen Nakashima's story on the matter on page A2, pitched in such a way as to practically beg the reader not to dive in. "Obama disagrees with report on NSA," noted the headline, with the subhead adding, "Phone-collection program is legal, administration says." Well, there we have it. Nothing to see here. By contrast, Post editors opted to rake the Bush/Cheney administration over the coals with a front-pager examining "A CIA prison''s secret history in Poland." Staff writer Adam Goldman looked at a CIA "black site" in Poland that was, according to the subheader, "shrouded in mystery, though it cast a long shadow":
Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine carried a cover story that oozed with compassion for radical-left WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning. Just as they did in last August's "antiwar hero" story, the Post utterly failed to locate Manning and his supporters on the far left. They were merely "free-information activists." They were the same kind of folks who wanted America to lose the Vietnam War, like Daniel Ellsberg, but that didn’t make them liberals. Post reporter Ellen Nakashima summed up:
For most of the past year, Manning spent 23 hours a day alone in a 6-by-12-foot jail cell. His case has become a rallying point for free-information activists, who say the leaked information belongs to the American people. They compare the 23-year-old former intelligence analyst to Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Vietnam War-era Pentagon Papers, and decry excessive government secrecy.