House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) wrote an op-ed in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times that should be must reading for all Americans, especially those that believe the leaking of national security information is actually a good thing if it helps your party regain power. In it, Hoekstra practically attacked USA Today for its recent front-page article concerning the National Security Agency collecting domestic phone records:
“WE ARE IN the first war of the Information Age, and we have a critical advantage over our enemy: We are far better at gathering intelligence. It's an advantage we must utilize, and it's keeping us safe. But every time classified national security information is leaked, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded.”
Hoekstra continued: “We suffered a setback Thursday when USA Today ran a front-page story alleging that the National Security Agency was collecting domestic phone records. This article hurt our efforts to protect Americans by giving the enemy valuable insights into the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which has been focused like a laser beam on Al Qaeda and its known associates.”
Hoekstra then stepped forward to defend the actions of the NSA and the president:
If you're not outraged by the NSA program that monitors phone-calling patterns, you're probably . . . too dumb to understand its implications. That, in a nutshell, and I do mean nutshell, was Ellen Ratner's argument on this morning's 'Long & the Short of It' segment on Fox & Friends Weekend. Oh, well, that - and opening our borders with Mexico.
Host Julian Phillips [who expressed his personal opposition to the NSA program] put it to Ratner that "most Americans don't care about this. They say the NSA should do that to keep our security intact."
"Until some neighbor who might work at a spy agency gets their phone records and starts spewing it around town that somebody is talking to somebody or divorce records get subpoenaed or something like that. You know, most people don't understand the impact of how bad this really is."
ABC's Elizabeth Vargas and George Stephanopoulos reported Friday night that lawmakers opposed to the NSA's program, which collects phone numbers dialed, were “surprised” that by two-to-one Americans consider the effort an “acceptable” anti-terrorism program. But given the media's hyperbolic negative reaction to the supposed “Big Brother” program, which spread into a second day on Friday, it's Vargas and Stephanopoulos -- along with the rest of the mainstream media -- who should be embarrassed by news judgment so out of touch with the public.
“An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly support the surveillance of phone records as a way to protect them against a potential terrorist strike,” Vargas reported as she cued up George Stephanopoulos by relaying how “some lawmakers were taken by surprise by this widespread public support for the program." Stephanopoulos echoed: "That's right, Elizabeth. When I was speaking to opponents of the program today they were really surprised that more Americans didn't share their outrage.” (Those "opponents" are presumably in politics, but I'm sure the same could be said for journalists.) Stephanopoulos further marveled at how “two-thirds of Americans wouldn't be bothered, even if the NSA was collecting their own phone records.” (ABC transcript, plus brief quotes from CBS and NBC on Friday night, follow)
A quick note to drive-by journalists about NSA illegallycollecting telephone records without first obtaining a warrant.
U.S. Supreme Court SMITH v. MARYLAND, 442 U.S. 735 (1979) No. 78-5374. Argued March 28, 1979. Decided June 20, 1979.
The telephone company, at police request, installed at its central offices a pen register to record the numbers dialed from the telephone at petitioner's home. Held: The installation and use of the pen register was not a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and hence no warrant was required. Pp. 739-746.
Breitbart April Tax Revenue 2nd-Highest in History It marked the largest one-month receipt total since the government collected $332 billion in revenue in April 2001
See that? Tax cuts = more tax revenue. So the only logical reason to complain about "tax cuts for the rich" is that you really want the economy to tank or that you don't really care about getting the most tax money you can but rather you hate that others are doing so well and want to punish them.
Hey Big Media, don't punish others just because you chose a profession that doesn't pay squat. In fact, you should go after your CEOs who take food out of your mouths with multi-million dollar retirement packages (that sounds familiar.)
As Rich Noyes pointed out yesterday, the morning shows jumped on the "USA Today" story about the NSA having phone records of ordinary Americans. This morning, CBS’s "The Early Show" continued with the coverage, and used the story to revive one of their favorite terms, "Domestic Spying." In covering this story this morning, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Delaware Senator Joe Biden, a critic of the NSA program, and asked softball questions. With the exception of 2 short clips of President Bush and 1 clip of General Michael Hayden, the President’s nominee to be CIA Director, viewers did not hear from any supporters of the NSA’s actions.
Harry Smith opened the broadcast with the following tease:
"Good morning I’m Harry Smith. The heat turns up again on the domestic spy scandal as members of Congress call for an investigation into a report that the government collected the phone records of millions of Americans. We'll have the latest."
According to the May 12 Today show, if you’re an "ordinary" American, you should be afraid of the President’s "snooping." Using the time honored media tradition of word repetition, the NBC program sought to portray the NSA’s gathering of phone numbers as highly sinister. In a report that aired at 7:07AM EDT, reporter Kelly O’Donnell stated that the phone records of "ordinary citizens" were compiled. In the 8AM hour, Ann Curry reported that the phone information of "millions of ordinary Americans" had been compiled. An hour later she again announced that those "ordinary Americans" had been targeted. Get it? It’s the average citizens who ought to be worried.
On Friday, Good Morning America devoted its first three stories to the collection of phone numbers by the National Security Agency. GMA reporters portrayed the news as creating a "firestorm of controversy" and as hitting Capitol Hill "like a ton of bricks." Yet the white-hot criticism was all coming from liberal Democrats during an election year. And as an ABC poll found, by two to one Americans think the program is justified.
Diane Sawyer introduced the first story, "But let's begin now with those 200 million Americans who may have had their phone calls tracked by the NSA. It has touched off a firestorm of controversy in Washington, pitting privacy against the war on terror. But ABC's Kate Snow and George Stephanopoulos have been covering this story from all angles for us. And we begin with Kate, who's in our Time Square studios here."
The Denver Post reports that among Joe Nacchio's other problems, he was the first Qwest CEO to refuse to help the NSA analyze phone records in the pursuit & deconstruction of terrorist networks. Even as,
"This is a case where (Qwest) showed some independence and courage," said Phil Weiser, a University of Colorado law professor who specializes in telecommunications issues.
In 2002 he chaired the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, a group of industry executives who advised President Bush. He also chaired the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council, an advisory panel on emergency communications networks and homeland security to the Federal Communications Commission.
One thing is certain: the people within the government leaking the existence of secret anti-terror programs to the press are trying to hurt the president politically. Chris Matthews believes they have been more successful in achieving that goal with the recent leak of the phone data collection program than they were with the terrorist surveillance program leak.
On this morning's Today show, Matt Lauer asked Matthews: "Will there be a huge political fallout? Americans are evenly split on the domestic program [i.e., the terrorist surveillance progam]. Do you see this as the same situation?"
"No. Nobody can imagine being on the telephone with an Al Qaeda agent but they can imagine privacy matters.
During today's 4pm EDT hour of CNN's The Situation Room, Jack Cafferty expressed his "outrage" over the revelation that the National Security Agency has been compiling a national database of phone records from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. Referring to Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter’s demand that the phone companies testify before Congress regarding this issue, Cafferty angrily stated that Specter could be the one preventing the United States from becoming a "full-blown dictatorship."
Wolf Blitzer: "Let’s get some words of wisdom from Jack Cafferty. He’s in New York right now. Jack?"
Jack Cafferty: "I don’t know about wisdom, but you’ll get a little outrage. We better all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that’s standing between us and a full-blown dictatorship in this country. He’s vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records and yours and tens of millions of other Americans. Shortly after 9/11, AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth began providing the super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens. All part of the war on terror, President Bush says. Why don’t you go find Osama bin Laden and seal the country’s borders and start inspecting the containers that come into our ports?"
Seismic! Shocking! Startling! A bombshell!! That’s how the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows described a front-page story in today’s (Thursday’s) USA Today that breathlessly touted how “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls.” Like the TV coverage, USA Today’s story insinuated that the existence of the database was a major violation of Americans’ privacy rights and evidence that the President was lying last December when he described the NSA’s eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications as limited and targeted.
Today’s article does not allege that any calls are listened in on. Indeed, as USA Today describes it, the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty.
And for all of the hype, there may not even be much “news” here. Last December 24, a few days after they spilled the beans about the NSA terrorist surveillance program, New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed how U.S. phone companies were helping the NSA by giving them “access to streams of domestic and international communications.”
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann cited a Chicago Tribune piece by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley as he explored whether, as with the Sopranos, you have to "break the law" to "break into the inner circle" of President Bush. Focusing on Bush's nomination of General Michael Hayden to run the CIA, and citing Hayden's role in creating the controversial NSA spying program, Olbermann argued that Bush counts "willingness to thumb his nose at constitutional law" as resume enhancement. The Countdown host then brought aboard Turley to make an unchallenged case that the administration consists of a "rogues' gallery." (Transcript follows)
Check out the screen capture from this morning's Today show. NBC respectfully describes the Iranian head of state - he of the threats, among other things, to wipe Israel off the map - as "President Ahmadinejad." And our own president? He's just "Bush."
Today aired the graphic in the course of Matt Lauer's interview of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Despite mental meanderings in Ahmadinejad's letter that prompted the Wall Street Journal to editorialize this morning about "Crazy Mahmoud", Lauer seemingly attached great significance to the missive, repeatedly pressing Secretary Rice to seize the occasion to open direct talks with the Iranians. In doing so, Lauer was perhaps channeling former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who just yesterday wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal urging the administration to commence such talks with a view to settling "all issues of mutual concern."
Thanks to our incredible military in Iraq, an April 16 raid in the Yusifiyah area was a mini treasure trove of terrorist documents. According to a release from Centcom...
"Coalition Forces discovered a large amount of documents and videos ranging from plans to critiques including al Qaida in Iraq's strategy in Baghdad, and how the terrorist organization lacks leadership, military capability and Iraqi support."
Of great interest are two documents - "Baghdad Strategy" and "Baghdad State of Affairs". Officials state that while the author of the documents is unknown, he is of significance within the terrorist organization. The full translation was completed on May 3, 2006.
"The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction."
While the media is full of stories of Nancy Pelosi's "Miss Cleo" impression on the future of politics in America and fantasizing about Porter Goss playing poker while smoking a cigar, our brave military are still kicking butt over in Iraq (and Afghanistan). Here's one of the latest from Centcom.mil...
TERRORIST CHEMICAL EXPERT KILLED IN BAGHDAD RAID "Ansar al-Islam member and chemical expert, Ali Wali, was killed May 6th at approximately 1 p.m. during a counterterrorist raid in the Mansur district of Baghdad. Iraqi civilians transported the two bodies to the morgue where Coalition forces later confirmed the identity of the wanted terrorist, Ali Wali.
HBO’s Bill Maher has made some absurd statements on his “Real Time” program in the past. But, this one made during Friday night's installment should offend all Americans regardless of party affiliation.
In a discussion about recently sentenced terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Maher contended that ExxonMobil’s CEO Lee Raymond failing to warn Americans about global warming was an equal crime as Moussaoui not warning America about 9/11.
Excuse me? What possible connection exists here, Bill?
Now, I imagine you might be thinking that this wasn’t the case, and that surely Maher couldn't possibly have said this. Well, read and/or watch for yourselves (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). Maher opined to his panel: “But let me ask you this: We put [Moussaoui] in jail because he knew about a pending disaster and failed to alert us. That’s his crime, right?” Maher then answered his own question (rough transcript follows with side chatter edited out):
“He knew about it and didn’t tell anybody. Okay, what about the people who knew about global warming? You know this guy...Isn’t that the same thing? Lee Raymond.”
Michael Kinsley writes in Slate that "journalists sincerely believe" they deserve "constitutional special treatment" when it comes to deciding when to publish classified material. They believe that for Bush to decide when to publish classified material is to give him dictatorial powers. But for them to decide means a victory for the First Amendment.
Many in the media believe that the Constitution contains a "reporter's privilege" to protect the identity of sources in circumstances, like a criminal trial, in which citizens ordinarily can be compelled to produce information or go to jail. The Supreme Court and lower courts have ruled and ruled again that there is no such privilege. And it certainly is not obvious that the First Amendment, which seems to be about the right to speak, actually protects a right not to speak. Yet many in the media not only believe that it does. They believe passionately that it is not merely OK but profoundly noble to follow their own interpretation and ignore the Supreme Court's.
Why must the president obey constitutional interpretations he disagrees with if journalists don't have to? Upholding the Constitution is actually part of his job description. It is not part of theirs....
Via FishbowlNY, we learn that actor Richard Dreyfuss is currently studying civics and democracy at the University of Oxford (following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton?), and he's grown hopping mad at media bias: the pro-Bush kind. It has been "sacrificing accuracy and impartiality for sensationalism and instant gratification."
He "expressed alarm that a few big media corporations control most of the news the general public has access to. Dreyfuss, who is a longtime political activist, has also campaigned for peace in the Middle East and lent his support to a campaign calling for the impeachment of US President George W. Bush." Dreyfuss is then quoted at length, or perhaps in short bursts:
The BBC was told by a commission it hired to not avoid using the word "terrorism" when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But the panel also said there was no bias in the BBC's reporting on the issue.
The BBC should not be afraid to use the word 'terrorism' in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a independent report commissioned by the corporation said today.
The report, which was ordered by the BBC governors from a panel of five independent figures last October to assess the contentious issue, found there was no evidence of "systematic" bias within the corporation.
'Today' had two 9/11 family members on as guests this morning to react to yesterday's jury determination of life in prison rather than the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui. That the family member who expressed general support for the process was relatively unknown, whereas the bitter Bush-administration critic, Kristin Breitweiser, is a household commodity, is indicative of MSM coverage in the years since 9/11.
Ironically, it was the family member that was disappointed in the verdict who expressed pride in America and the process, whereas Breitweiser, who got the verdict she preferred, remained bitter.
First to speak was Hamilton Peterson, who lost his father and step-mother on United 93. Katie Couric opened by asking him why he believes Moussaoui should have received the death penalty. Consider Peterson's response:
Imagine you're a US Senator. A citizen has just suggested that a former CIA Director and named FBI agents merit the death penalty as much as convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. Do you:
A. condemn such an outrageous comment? B. move on to another topic? C. congratulate the citizen for making "an absolutely accurate point"?
If you're Joe Biden [D-DE], the answer, incredibly, is 'C'.
Here's how it went down. In a 'Hardball' devoted to reactions to today's jury decision giving life in prison to Moussaoui, both Rudy Giuliani and Biden had expressed regret that Moussaoui hadn't been given the death penalty, in light of the fact that he knew of but failed to disclose the 9/11 plot.
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann attacked the Bush administration over the leak of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent, implying that the President has "done more to help terrorists and rogue states than hurt them," as he linked Plame's work on WMD to the current standoff with Iran. But Olbermann had previously not expressed worries about threats to national security from other leakers, instead referring to them as "whistleblowers," including those who leaked the CIA's use of secret prisons in Europe, and the existence of the controversial NSA spying program.
Olbermann opened the Tuesday May 2 Countdown show: "The irony was already inescapable and infuriating. In the middle of a war that started over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the administration of President George W. Bush was willing to destroy the cover of a secret American agent on the trail of actual weapons of mass destruction in order to deflect criticism over how badly it had fouled up or puffed up its wobbly evidence about phony weapons of mass destruction." (Complete transcript follows)
As picked up by the DrudgeReport, an AFP dispatch from Greece on Tuesday recounted how left-wing actor Tim Robbins, “at a news conference in Athens promoting his stage version of George Orwell's 1984,” blasted President Bush's policies and the news media for ignoring Bush's supposed crimes. “We have right now a media that is willfully ignoring the high crimes and misdemeanors of the President of the United States," Robbins charged. He lamented that “Clinton lied about a blowjob, and got impeached by the media and Congress," while Bush “got us into the [Iraq] war based on lies that he knew were lies....yet no one in the media is calling for impeachment."
The un-bylined May 2 AFP dispatch from Athens added that “Robbins pointed out similarities between current U.S. policies on terrorism and the authoritarian society described by Orwell” in his 1984 novel: “'Unfortunately, the book and the play is more relevant now than it ever has been,' he said. '(It) talks about continuous warfare as a means to control the Western economy, and as a way to control rebel elements within society through the use of fear, constant fear.'" Citing the “renditioning of innocent people without trial,” Robbins asserted: “This is exactly what Orwell was talking about when he spoke of thought crimes." (With link to video of earlier call for Bush's impeachment)
I linked to a Wall Street Journal editorial
about the elite media's double standard on leaks, especially how leaks
to the New York Times and Washington Post that damaged the Bush admin's
anti-terrorism efforts are awarded prizes while syndicated columnist
Robert Novak is condemned for revealing the occupation of an outspoken
Bush critic. Today, the Journal prints a letter from NYT executive
editor Bill Keller which responds to some of the editorial's charges.
Unsurprisingly, Keller makes no mention of the Valerie Plame Wilson
matter, a scandal which his paper's news and editorial pages have
overhyped since its inception. Instead, he focuses exclusively on leaks
which he does find not only acceptable but praiseworthy, that is the
disclosure that the U.S. may secretly be imprisoning suspected
terrorists (leaked to the Washington Post), and that Americans said to
be communicating internationally with terrorists are being spied on by
the NSA (leaked to the New York Times).
Keller bristles at the Journal's suggestion that the Times's and Post's sources are partisans:
Jennifer Harper reports in the Washington Times about an Arizona State University study of 300 al Qaeda statements, letters and other papers. The study was conducted by the university's Consortium for Strategic Communication and a Defense Department .
Says the director of the consortium, Steven Corman, "People are surprised the jihadis think of the media as a weapon."
His study analyzed almost 300 al Qaeda statements, letters and other documents, many of them captured during U.S. military actions in the Middle East and recently declassified by the Pentagon.
You can’t miss it on television or radio. There are even some newspaper reports of the cry... “Too Soon...Too Soon!”
All accounts are referring to the release of the new motion picture “United 93”, a graphic portrait of the events which unfolded on September 11, 2001. This motion picture is mainly from the perspective of those who were aboard the fourth aircraft on that fatal day and how they responded to the highjackers. The hijacking of United 93 and the unprovoked attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were more than the equivalent of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. They were the events, which triggered our War Against Islamic Terrorism.
During those first weeks following the attacks we were a united country. There was a seriousness of tone on radio and television. The newspapers lauded those responding to a call to arms. Flags appeared on buildings and were flown from car antennas. Patriotic songs were written.
The Washington Post lived up to its typical pattern in coverage of economic good news Saturday morning. The fastest economic growth in several years was banished to D-1 again. While the Post put two bad-news-for-Bush stories on Iraq and terrorism on page 1, it put victories against al-Qaeda in Iraq on page A-10.
On D-1, the Post story acknowledged "Economic Growth Surges to 4.8%." Fred Barbash and Bill Brubaker noted "It was the hottest annualized pace for the gross domestic product in 2 and a half years." That news wasn't even mentioned on the front page. The "Inside" box touted two other, less stunning Business items from D-1:
-- "Pentagon Halts Clearances: High demand and a budget shortfall are blamed for putting security checks for 3,000 contractors on hold."
National Public Radio offers a natural book-buying audience for ultraliberal Sen. Ted Kennedy as he sells his new tome, titled "America Back On Track." On yesterday's nationally syndicated "Diane Rehm Show," NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook sat in for Rehm. The show should have been called "The Senate Floor," since Kennedy's answers routinely went beyond two minutes and started sounding like floor speeches, as Seabrook deferentially waited for Kennedy to come up for air.
For example, Seabrook's second question was simple: "How did America get off track?" Kennedy offered a windy two-minute attack/answer about George Bush and Karl Rove's "politics of fear," as well as darkness, division, and personal destruction, just to round it out:
In his Washington Post column today, David Broder takes on the government-press relationship, but predictably, only the government side is evaluated. In Broder's eyes, it's suspicious government vs. idealistic press corps:
This is a troubling case for those of us in journalism. Our view is that it's the government's responsibility to keep its secrets secret and that it's our responsibility to ferret out information so the public is aware of the actions being taken in its name...But we also know that administrations of both parties tend to restrict information -- and that the only way for the public to learn of questionable policies or actions is for conscientious individuals to break that official code of silence.