We're all familiar with this definition of a conservative: "a liberal who's just been mugged." This morning, Ted Koppel devised a variation on the theme that could be taken as an insult to his fellow lefties: "a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested."
Koppel's line came in the course of a Today show interview with Matt Lauer to discuss a special that Koppel is about to air in his role as Managing Editor of the Discovery Channel [so that's where he went after leaving ABC!]. As Lauer described it, the documentary, entitled 'The Price of Security,' addresses "the balance between securing the nation and protecting our individual liberties."
Looking back, it all seems so predictable. The relentless criticism, the countless sneering jabs from Keith Olbermann directed at the Bush administration were building to an inexorable climax. It came tonight. Olbermann flatly accused the Bush administration of representing "a new type of fascism."
Though the denouement was inevitable, the proximate cause of Olbermann's tirade was Donald Rumsfeld's speech to the American Legion on Tuesday in which he suggested that opponents of the war in Iraq have adopted the same attitude that slowed a military response to Hitler. Rumsfeld asserted that radical Islam represents "a new type of fascism."
Friday’s morning shows largely preferred the JonBenet Ramsey case over yesterday’s district court ruling declaring the National Security Agency’s terrorist surveillance program to be unconstitutional. NBC’s "Today" and CBS’ "The Early Show" limited their reporting on the issue to brief anchor reads, as did their evening news counterparts, as the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth previously reported.
"Good Morning America," however, did devote more than a few seconds on the topic, with ABC’s Jessica Yellin reporting from the White House. In her report, Yellin never acknowledged the liberal background of Judge Ann Diggs Taylor, who, Yellin pointed out, "accuses the President of acting like a king" and says the NSA program "blatantly disregards" the parameters established in the Bill of Rights. Yellin labeled the court’s decision a "stinging setback" for President Bush, and highlighted this warning to the President from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley :
Jonathan Turley: "He could be impeached. And people should not be underestimating that. It's true that this Congress does not want to--"
If not quite from the grave, the decision by one of Jimmy Carter's judicial appointees, striking down the NSA terrorist surveillance program, was an unwelcome blast from past. Call it Carter's Revenge. Malaise Redux. The spirit of Desert One lives.
That this was a political decision more than a legal one is evidenced by the intemperate language of the opinion itself: "There are no hereditary kings in America," harumphed Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit, in a case filed by the ACLU. [An exception to Taylor's no-hereditary-kings rule: the Sulzberger dynasty that is . . . the New York Times. Hat tip to NB poster Jack Bauer. See details in comments below.]
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann bolstered the ruling by Federal Judge Ann Diggs Taylor against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Referring to the ruling as a "judicial smackdown" and a "stunning ruling" against the program, Olbermann repeatedly referred to the NSA program as monitoring "our" phone calls or "our" emails. The MSNBC host further contended that since the program was revealed, "anybody who had actually read the Constitution" believed it would eventually be ruled as "patently illegal." Olbermann's guest discussing the topic was liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who labeled Judge Taylor's ruling as a "very thoughtful opinion" and called efforts by conservatives to discredit her as a liberal Carter appointee as "distasteful." By contrast, CNN and FNC featured guests who questioned Judge Taylor's judicial wisdom. (Transcript follows)
On Thursday, all three network evening newscasts covered the ruling by a federal judge against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Stemming from a case filed by the ACLU and other plaintiffs, Judge Ann Diggs Taylor, a Carter appointee, found the program to be unconstitutional. Unlike CNN and FNC, which conveyed that the ruling would likely be overturned, none of the network evening newscasts mentioned the liberal credentials of Judge Taylor or the debate over judicial activism and legal weaknesses in the ruling, such as the issue of whether the plaintiffs had standing to file the lawsuit, since the plaintiffs themselves were not found to be the subjects of surveillance. (Transcripts follow)
During the 4pm EDT hour of "The Situation Room," CNN’s Jack Cafferty had a thing or two to say about a U.S. district court judge ruling the National Security Agency’s terrorist surveillance program as unconstitutional. Cafferty attacked the "arrogant" Bush administration for its supposed "abuse of power" and accused the President of lying to the American people and violating his oath of office:
Jack Cafferty: "So what does this mean? It means President Bush violated his oath of office, among other things, when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It means he’s been lying to us about the program since it started, when he’s been telling us there’s nothing illegal about what he’s doing."
Will the New York Times write stories on how eavesdropping is what alerted U.S. authorities to the terrorist airplane attack? Time magazine reported in an exclusive that the "U.S. picked up the suspects' chatter and shared it with British authorities."
The operation involved cooperation between British and American authorities.
Britain's MI-5 intelligence service and Scotland Yard had been tracking the plot for several months, but only in the past two weeks had the plotters' planning begun to crystallize, senior U.S. officials tell TIME. In the two or three days before the arrests, the cell was going operational, and authorities were pressed into action. MI5 and Scotland Yard agents tracked the plotters from the ground, while a knowledgeable American official says U.S. intelligence provided London authorities with intercepts of the group's communications.
The Wall Street Journal says media and Democratic opposition to the programs now looks foolish after the foiled terror plot.
The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications.
On this morning's Today, NBC's Kevin Corke wondered how long the administration knew about the averted bombing plot and why they would withhold that information, asking: "If the administration has known about this potential plot what was the hold up in getting the word out, especially domestically?" Either this is a case of the media being overly-skeptical or just being clueless. Clearly the administration wouldn't want to release any information before any arrests were made so as not to tip off any suspects in the U.S. or Britain. The following is the full exchange between NBC's Ann Curry and Corke.
Ann Curry: "And British Prime Minister Tony Blair briefed the President overnight about this plot. Well NBC's Kevin Corke is in Crawford, Texas at the President's ranch this morning. Kevin, good morning. Any word from the President?"
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann implied that the Senate Judiciary Committee deliberately timed its hearing on the controversial NSA spying program to "bury" the story as the national media attention is focused on war in the Middle East. The Countdown host similarly remarked that it was the "perfect day" for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to reveal President Bush's role in blocking the Justice Department from reviewing the program. Referring to NBC's The West Wing, Olbermann ended up labeling the day "take out the trash day."
After referring to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Olbermann teased the segment at the beginning of the show: "A perfect day then to bury the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on warrant-free domestic spying by the Bush administration. A perfect day then for the Attorney General to reveal that the Justice Department was blocked from reviewing the legalities on the personal instructions of the President." (Transcript follows)
President Bush is an even greater threat to our civil liberties than that bête noire of the left, Richard Nixon. That's Morton Halperin's conclusion in a Los Angeles Times op-ed of today, Bush: Worse Than Nixon.
Halperin was once a name in the news. In 1969, then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger named Halperin to the NSA. But soon thereafter Kissinger suspected it was the dovish Halperin who leaked to the NY Times the fact that the US was secretly bombing Cambodia. The FBI began tapping his phone, and Halperin was soon gone from NSA. Perhaps Halperin's biggest claim to fame is the fact that Pres. Nixon put him on his 'Enemies List.' A red badge of courage, no pun intended, off which a person can no doubt eat for a lifetime in liberal circles.
Halperin remains active politically, serving as a senior fellow at the 'Center for American Progress.' As detailed by the invaluable Discoverthenetworks, CAP is a George Soros-funded organization founded on the risible notion that American colleges and universities are dominated by . . . conservatives."
"It's hard not to notice the clear similarities between then and now. Both the Nixon and Bush presidencies rely heavily on the use of national security as a pretext for the usurpation of unprecedented executive power.
By 6:00 o’clock on Monday evening, an entertainingly motley crew of a hundred or so protestors had gathered across the street from New York Times headquarters at W. 43rd street in midtown Manhattan to protest the New York Times’ revelations of a secret, and successful, anti-terror program involving international bank transactions.
The stated goal of protest cosponsors Caucus for America/conservative message board Free Republic, according to a flier: "To show the New York Times that America has had enough of their irresponsible reporting of classified information that damages our country and helps our enemies!"
Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America did most of the talking (and chant-leading), stepping aside from time to time for others to speak. At one point he was joined on the cab of the Caucus truck by a Bin Laden impersonator cradling his precious copy of the Times.
The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial page is alarmed by those who call New York Times executive editor Bill Keller a "traitor." The editorial page quoted Brent Bozell in his latest column: "Indeed, the track record proves the New York Times and Bill Keller are not 'neutral' but grossly biased against the U.S.-led war against terrorism."
To this the editorial wrote:
So fulminated conservative propagandist Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center last week. His statement was part of an anti-Times frenzy whipped up by Republican strategists, then echoed ad nauseam by Pavlovian talk shows and blogs.
For these folks, bashing the Times (and journalists generally) is a hobby.
The Sunday Times reports that many Western countries have been waging a "secret war" against North Korea. That word alone should perk up New York Times editors, who believe nothing can be kept "secret" without their approval.
Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a “secret war” against Pyongyang and Tehran.
It has so far involved interceptions of North Korean ships at sea, US agents prowling the waterfronts in Taiwan, multinational naval and air surveillance missions out of Singapore, investigators poring over the books of dubious banks in the former Portuguese colony of Macau and a fleet of planes and ships eavesdropping on the “hermit kingdom” in the waters north of Japan.
But this still isn't saying how these operations are carried out. We all need to know the specifics about how these maneuvers are executed. Cue the New York Times.
That didn't take long! Just yesterday I suggested readers keep in mind the MSM's bashing of Pres. Bush on his birthday the next time a liberal accused conservatives of being 'mean-spirited.' Groucho fans will know what I mean when I say: bring down the duck! On last evening's Journal Editorial Report , liberal newsie Marvin Kalb said the magic 'm-s' word in condemning the Wall Street Journal for its criticism of the New York Times.
The Journal had run an editorial, Fit and Unfit to Print [subscription required] that both explained why it had run a story on the anti-terror financial tracking program, and criticized the New York Times for doing so. For the record, the editorial explained that in contrast with the Times article, the Journal only published declassified information that had been provided them by the Treasury Department.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller claimed there were no consequences for leaking information about the bank-monitoring program designed to track terrorists' finances. He claimed that there was no harm done and that no backlash was caused by publicly releasing the information.
In fact, Keller said the program would still be supported in Europe, despite the leak.
The Bush Administration and America itself may be unpopular in Europe these days, but policing the byways of international terror seems to have pretty strong support everywhere. And while it is too early to tell, the initial signs are that our article is not generating a banker backlash against the program.
The European governments knew about the program, but now that the New York Times has made it known to the world, they may have to show outrage to their home citizens.
On "Special Report with Brit Hume," the anchor led his July 7 "Political Grapevine" segment by reporting on the reaction of the European Parliament to the Times story.
Did you hear that sound on Thursday, June 29? That was millions of conservatives gasping in horror when the Supreme Court issued its Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision seemingly giving the Bush administration a stunning defeat over terrorist detention centers at Guantanamo Bay.
Irrespective of such justifiable concerns, when combined with another leak by the New York Times of a counterterrorism program just six days prior, Republicans were actually handed a tremendous gift dramatically improving their chances to hold both chambers of Congress in the November elections.
Thanks to Cori Dauber at Ranting Profs , we know that Times intelligence reporter Eric Lichtblau, notorious for co-writing the article revealing the terrorist surveillance program of international banking transactions known as SWIFT, wrote an article last November critical of the administration for -- get this -- lacking a strategy to cut off terrorist funding.From November 29, 2005 (Times Select or $ required): “U.S. Lacks Strategy to Curb Terror Funds, Agency Says.” An excerpt:
The American Spectator published an article Wednesday thoroughly refuting claims by the New York Times that counterterrorism information revealed in its June 23 exposé was common knowledge. Moreover, to discourage it and the Los Angeles Times from publishing these reports, both were informed of three ongoing investigations using information from SWIFT:
According to Treasury and Justice Department officials familiar with the briefings their senior leadership undertook with editors and reporters from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the media outlets were told that their reports on the SWIFT financial tracking system presented risks for three ongoing terrorism financing investigations. Despite this information, both papers chose to move forward with their stories.
"We didn't give them specifics, just general information about regions where the investigations were ongoing, terrorist organizations that we believed were being assisted. These were off the record meetings set up to dissuade them from reporting on SWIFT, and we thought the pressing nature of the investigations might sway them, but they didn't," says a Treasury official.
Without giving away vital secrets, these briefings were detailed enough to convince both news organizations of the effectiveness of this program:
The Times backpedals a bit from its irresponsible story revealing a successful terrorist surveillance program involving international bank transactions. After playing it up as a lead story June 23, nine days later it's shrugged off as common knowledge by the very reported who trumpeted it on the front page.
Based on CNN's rush transcript, here's reporter Eric Lichtblau on CNN’s Reliable Sources from Sunday defending his bank spy scoop (emphasis added):
"I'm not claiming I know the mind of every terrorist, but I am claiming to know exactly what President Bush and his senior aides have said. And when you have senior Treasury Department officials going before Congress, publicly talking about how they are tracing and cutting off money to terrorists, weeks and weeks before our story ran. 'USA Today,' the biggest circulation in the country, the lead story on their front page four days before our story ran was the terrorists know their money is being traced, and they are moving it into -- outside of the banking system into unconventional means. It is by no means a secret."
Katherine Graham, the late publisher of the Washington Post, presided over the paper as it brought down the Nixon administration with Watergate. She has been labeled one of the most influential women of the 20th century. But in a 1986 speech, she admitted that the media were to blame for bringing down the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut. The 1983 terrorist attack killed 241 servicemen.
The U.S. had broken the code used by the terrorists to communicate. When that information was leaked to the media, the code was no longer used, and five months later, 241 Marines lost their lives.
After appearing on CNN last week and granting an interview with Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz (who naively pondered the ferocity of what he considered the unwarranted conservative assault on the New York Times), Times Executive Editor Bill Keller again goes to a sympathetic outlet, CBS’s Face the Nation hosted by liberal host Bob Schieffer. Keller again defended his paper by throwing dark hints of a conservative anti-Times conspiracy.
Hardened NBC watchers know to expect a shift toward the left when Andrea Mitchell is sitting in for Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." On Sunday's big media roundtable, the topic was the administration's "war" on the press. Bennett said Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, whose story on the CIA's secret prisons for terror suspects in Europe outraged Bennett, went all personal on Bennett by saying her story did not break the law: "I mean, some people would like to make casino gambling a crime, but it is not a crime." (The liberal Washington Monthly broke the story in 2003 that Bennett had a bad habit of gambling away thousands of dollars on casino slot machines. The media glee was palpable.)
Most who watched the various talking heads programs on Sunday know that a hot topic for discussion was the New York Times article last Friday concerning the NSA using a Belgian banking cooperative to track terrorist funds. One of the best debates occurred on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” because it included one of the article’s authors, Eric Lichtblau, and an outspoken critic of the article and the Times, Hugh Hewitt (video link to follow).
As the discussion moved around the table, host Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post asked Hewitt if he felt the Times should be prosecuted for its actions. Hewitt responded:
“I don't know enough to answer that question, because 18 USC 798 (ph) has a lot of elements to it, Howard. But I know this. Eric's story helped terrorists elude capture. That's what the outrage is about. That's the widely shared opinion among people with intelligence background. It's widely shared by soldiers in the field, as made evident on their blogs.”
Kurtz challenged Hewitt on how he knew that these revelations helped the terrorists. Hewitt responded:
Two organizations, the D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com and Accuracy in Media, will hold a protest outside the Washington, D.C., office of the New York Times. They will denounce the Times for "giving aid and comfort to al Qaeda by publishing stories exposing national security intelligence programs," and will call for the prosecution of the principle players. The event will by held July 3.
The D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com, an independent grassroots conservative organization, and Accuracy in Media (AIM) will hold a demonstration at noon, Monday, July 3, at the Washington, D.C., bureau of The New York Times, 1627 I St., NW, to call for the prosecution of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Executive Editor Bill Keller and reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for giving aid and comfort to al Qaeda by publishing stories exposing national security intelligence programs.
Despite pleadings from the federal government and Democrat and Republican members of the 9/11 Commission, The Times recently published a report detailing lawful surveillance of international banking transactions that was employed to prevent terror attacks.
This report followed The Times' publication last year exposing the federal government’s NSA surveillance of international based phone and electronic communications aimed at preventing terror attacks. Incredibly, The Times was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for that story.
Frank Ahrens and Howard Kurtz make a fairly big deal in the Washington Post (and on page A-2) on Saturday that "USA Today has acknowledged that it cannot prove key elements of a blockbuster May 11 story in which it reported that several telecommunications companies were handing over customer phone records to the National Security Agency."
"We take every error seriously," USA Today Editor Ken Paulson said in an interview. "This was obviously a big story. . . . All we can do is set the record straight."
Reporter Leslie Cauley revealed her unidentified sources to a top editor, Paulson said, and "the sources are credible," adding, "They have a track record with Leslie and she trusts them." But several members of the congressional intelligence committees later contradicted the sources on the question of whether Verizon and BellSouth had provided information to the NSA.
At this point, how many people are interested in hearing more preachy justifications from newspaper editors about their decision to spill the beans on anti-terror programs? Yada yada yada, the sensitive balance between legitimate secrecy needs in time of war and the public's right to know. Yeah, we get it.
But there were Dean Baquet and Bill Keller, editors of the LA and NY Times respectively, with an op-ed this morning humming that tired 'on the one hand, on the other' sing song . Things reached their apotheosis of annoyingness [poetic license in the name of alliteration] when the duo approvingly cited WaPo editor Robert Kaiser editor thusly:
Just when you're ready to write Chris Matthews off as a hopeless liberal, he pulls something like he did tonight, criticizing the New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program.
Matthews' guests were the Rev. Al Sharpton and conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan. On the subject of the Times leak, Sharpton predictably proclaimed that the Gray Lady was "absolutely right," while Morgan sided with President Bush. That's when Matthews weighed in with his surprising pronouncement:
"Melanie, on this issue, believe it or not, I'm with you. I think the Times should not have run that story, I don't think we needed to know that. It wasn't really about us; it was of more interest to the enemy."
The U.S. House voted 227 to 183 to adopt a resolution condemning publications that exposed the the classified bank-monitoring program that the resolution declared was "consistent with Federal law."
Four points were resolved:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) supports efforts to identify, track, and pursue suspected foreign terrorists and their financial supporters by tracking terrorist money flows and uncovering terrorist networks here and abroad, including through the use of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program;
(2) finds that the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program has been conducted in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, that appropriate safeguards and reviews have been instituted to protect individual civil liberties, and that Congress has been appropriately informed and consulted for the duration of the Program and will continue its oversight of the Program;
As fellow NewsBuster Mithridate Ombud noted today, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has flatly accused the Bush administration of anti-Semitism in its criticism of The New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program. Claimed Carroll:
"The Times is a good target... Also, the name of the New York Times contains the word 'New York.' Many members of the president's base consider 'New York' to be a nifty code word for 'Jewish.' It is very nice for the president to be able to campaign against the Jews without (a) actually saying the word "Jew" and (b) without irritating the Israelis."
Is this an emerging MSM theme? Perhaps, judging by Chris Matthews' line of questioning on this evening's Hardball.