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:
On July 3, the D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com and Accuracy in Media held a protest outside the Washington bureau of the New York Times. Michelle Malkin has pictures from the event.
The protest was reported on Fox News' "Special Report with Brit Hume."
BRIT HUME: The "New York Times" continues to take heat for its revelation, as we mentioned earlier in the "Grapevine," of a secret government program to track terrorist financing. As chief Washington correspondent, Jim Angle, reports attempts by the paper's editor to explain its action have not calmed the controversy.
PROTESTOR: Round them up for treason. Send them all to Gitmo.
"Fredo, you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever." - Michael Corleone, The Godfather
Mark Hohmeister writes for the Tallahassee Democrat about picking editorial cartoons. While he admits to being liberal, he also notes that one shouldn't pick editorial cartoons based on your personal ideology. Last week he made the mistake of picking one where Uncle Sam was reading the New York Times with the masthead saying "All the Treason Fit to Print."
He heard back from unhappy readers, which didn't surprise me, but he also heard from his former publisher of the Democrat, who said:
"In more than 50 years of various responsibilities for newspapers and editorial pages, I've defended a lot of editorial cartoons. But this one is indefensible."
Q: Where is approximately 380,000 votes "the narrowest of leads" in an election?
A: In the New York Times, but only when the leftist candidate is trailing.
From James C. McKinley Jr. and Ginger Thompson's dispatch on the Mexican presidential race (emphasis added):
MEXICO CITY, July 4 — The Mexican electoral crisis deepened Tuesday, as the leftist candidate demanded a vote-by-vote recount and election officials acknowledged that up to three million votes had not been tallied in the preliminary results.
The ballots counted so far showed the conservative, Felipe Calderón, with the narrowest of leads, fewer than 400,000 votes, over his leftist opponent, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
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."
The top of Tuesday's Washington Post carries the headline "Mexico Girds for Legal Battle As Election Yields a Near Tie." But the caption nearby under pictures of the candidates reports: "Felipe Calderon, left, has 36.38 percent of the vote following a preliminary, uncertified tally, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has 35.34 percent." That's a one percent lead, which is tight, but not a "near tie" -- it's a margin of 384,000 votes, says the New York Times with a more accurate headline: "Conservative Has Slight Edge in Mexico Vote." The Post story never employed a numerical vote margin in its story, hiding the margin of hundreds of thousands of votes.
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.
For the long weekend, a few media-bias nuggets I've enjoyed from some of my favorite fellow media observers. In his Thursday "Impromptus" column at National Review Online, there's Jay Nordlinger choking on the cynical tone emerging from the AP in Washington:
Talk about tiresomeness — I’m back on my girl Laurie Kellman, and the Associated Press. Here is how an article of hers began yesterday (and bear in mind that this is a news story, from a wireservice): “The narrow defeat of a proposal to ban flag desecration marks the second time in a month Senate Republicans have lost bids to amend the Constitution in ways designed to inspire social conservatives to vote in the midterm elections.”
That may or may not be true: but it is pure analysis/opinion, friends, not the way to lead a news story (in my opinion — speaking of those).
The article continues in that vein. If Ms. Kellman, and the others, want to work at Mother Jones — or the New York Times! — they should apply there.
In the Style section of Saturday's Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz covered the slightly strange story of the Wall Street Journal editorial page criticizing the New York Times scoop on the SWIFT financial tracking system, when the Journal ran the story as well once the Times decided to publish. But the most interesting part of the story was the new poll:
In a Fox News poll released yesterday, 60 percent of those surveyed said the Times did more to help terrorist groups by publishing the information, while 27 percent said the story did more to help the public. Forty-three percent called what the newspapers did treason. Just over half said government employees were more to blame for leaking the classified information, 28 percent faulted the media for reporting it, and 17 percent said they were equally to blame.
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:
The uproar over last week's New York Times expose' of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program still isn't cacophonous enough for National Journal media columnist William Powers:
Watching the story play out, I've found myself hoping...that the conflict will get hotter and uglier and eventually wind up in court...Why? Because this country needs to have a great, big, loud, come-to-Jesus argument about the role of the press in a time of war, terror, and secrecy.
...A poll...conducted by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in Chicago recently found that Americans know more about The Simpsons than they do about the First Amendment -- a lot more.
Over the course of the past few weeks – and much to the delight of many conservative new media journalists – no less than seven major news outlets have published rather derogatory articles about Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the highly-successful proprietor of the überleft-leaning blog Daily Kos.
Conspicuously at the same time, most media avoided or downplayed the recently revealed stock fraud allegations surrounding Zuniga’s colleague and co-author Jerome Armstrong – the man that helped Howard Dean’s presidential campaign back in 2004, and is now working for 2008 Democrat presidential candidate Mark Warner.
As this negative media focus came soon after Zuniga’s much-heralded liberal bloggers’ convention, The Yearly Kos, in Las Vegas – where the usual media suspects were writing great praise for the event as well as for Kos himself – some awkward and so far unspoken questions arise:
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.
So much for the loopy Olbermann-esque spin that it’s just conservatives hoping to “stoke the base” who are distressed by journalists’ leaking of government secrets.
Veteran NBC News reporter Richard Valeriani says the New York Times’s decision to publish a front-page story exposing a classified government program designed to track terrorist financing is “irresponsible,” saying it smacks of “giving Anne Frank’s address to the Nazis.” (Hat-tip to Poynter's Jim Romenesko.)
Jon Carroll has this to say about the New York Times / White House animosity:
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. A number of prominent Zionist groups think the New York Times is insufficiently anti-Palestinian, so they think the New York Times isn't Jewish enough.
Since George W. Bush has done more to protect the future of Israel than any Democrat on the planet, why would he want to "campaign against the Jews"? He continues:
Do we really believe that the terrorists are reading the New York Times for clues on what to do, or not do, next?
The On Point radio show on WBUR public radio in Boston (no liberal leaning there!) featured host Anthony Brooks and several panelists chewing over the NYT's bank spy story, including reporter Eric Lichtblau, the reporter responsible (or should we say irresponsible) for coauthoring the piece.
Joining Brooks by phone, Lichtblau offered this lame defense in response to a question from fellow guest Heather Mac Donald, who wrote critically about the Times' report for the Weekly Standard: “The idea that we’re alerting terrorist to the idea that their finances may be tracked I think is misguided. I think they’ve been alerted to that for the last four-and-a-half years by President Bush and by numerous aides, including former Treasury Secretary Snow and others. That drumbeat has been constant from the administration, and it’s such a poorly kept secret, if you can call it even that.”
Since the New York Times is now the organization that decides what national security information deserves to be kept secret, Bob Cox wonders if they can be trusted with such a huge responsibility.
It comes down to a matter of trust, something in short supply for most Americans when it comes to The New York Times. Since Sept. 11, The Times has published fabricated quotations (Maureen Dowd), fabricated datelines (Rick Bragg) and stories manufactured out of whole cloth (Jayson Blair). The Times, by many estimates, made the administration’s case for war by publishing now-discredited claims about Iraq’s WMD program (Judith Miller). Dan Rather may have made “fake but accurate” famous, but it was The New York Times that honed the practice to an art form. Maybe they could sell T-shirts?
Tech Central Station has a report from the "Satire News Service" about a 1943 New York Times story revealing that the U.S. had successfully cracked Germany's Enigma code. The Times also reported that Japan's code, in an operation called MAGIC, had also been broken.
The publisher of the New York Times, "Paunch" Sulzburger, said releasing the information was important to "know how this war is being fought. It is part of the continuing national debate over the aggressive measures employed by this administration and the British government."
Naturally, left-wing activists praised the paper's actions, including Norman Chomsky, a "professor of phrenology and astrology at MIT."
Give reporter Scott Shane credit for citing criticism of the Times by Andrew McCarthy of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (and a contributor to National Review Online).
But Shane cites a Bush statement from September 24, 2001 to suggest the president is protesting too much about what he considers the Times’ “disgraceful” behavior. Shane’s thrust seems to be that, since Bush said in very general terms that his administration was tracking terrorist funding, he can’t really complain when the Times prints classified details of specific programs on the front page.
MRC's Geoff Dickens reports that MSNBC's "Hardball" on Tuesday also pushed the line that Bush was pandering to conservatives with media criticism. After claiming, like a liberal talking-point machine, that unnamed "national security experts" disagree with the president that the New York Times has harmed national security, since the Bush people announced vaguely in public that they would monitor terrorist finances, reporter David Shuster picked up on the Ed Henry echo:
Shuster: "Political analysts believe the Bush administration’s latest war with the media is motivated in part by the coming midterm elections."
Political analyst Charlie Cook: "They’ve got to motivate their base and conservatives, Republicans tend to distrust the media, so any time you can play off and use the media as a foil, it’s probably a good thing."
The liberal media party-line has hardened on the breathtaking arrogance of the New York Times, the self-appointed spoilers of secrecy. The White House is apparently insincere in its criticism -- it's merely pandering to the right-wing base.
MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro found CNN reporter Ed Henry charging up Capitol Hill with this spin on Tuesday night's "Anderson Cooper 360," that the Times was being hounded for political gain. "Republicans stepped up their barrage on the New York Times for publishing details of a once-secret program tracking the banking transactions of terrorists." After a quote from Sen. Pat Roberts charging the Times should look in the mirror of blame for the next terror attack, Henry continued:
"From the president on down, Republicans have been reading from the same script."
On Monday’s Diane Rehm show on National Public Radio, the arrogance of The New York Times was on full display. Times reporter Eric Lichtblau was a guest on the program discussing the story the Times published on Friday disclosing a secret anti-terror program designed to follow the money. Among the claims made by Lichtblau were, The New York Times determined this anti-terror program was a matter for national debate, the Bush administration is trying to score political points by feigning outrage over the disclosure of this program, and that none of the sources who disclosed the program had political motives.
Lichtblau ,and fortunately for the war on terror and the national security of America he didn't cite an example to back up this claim, wants listeners to believe:
"Um, you know, we’re not gonna just take a leak and run with it. We, you know, carefully look at the facts of the case to decide whether or not it’s worth publishing and I think it’s important to remember that there’s information that we at the New York Times and other papers keep out of the public domain all the time because we agree that yes, this could compromise a source and method, this could actually help the bad guys."
Republican House leaders want to introduce a resolution condemning the New York Times for its reporting on the international bank-monitoring program. On the Senate side, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, asked National Intelligence Director John Negroponte to assess the damage done by the leak.
The Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, ran two letters from soldiers in Iraq addressed to the New York Times. The article also says that the American public trusts the military over the media: 47 percent say they have "hardly any" confidence in the media, while 14 percent say they have a "great deal" of confidence in the media.
T.F. BOGGS is a 24-year-old sergeant in the Army Reserves serving his second tour of duty in Iraq, where he helps to provide security for a military base in Mosul. He is also an occasional blogger, venting his views at www.boredsoldier.blogspot.com. On Sunday, those views took the form of a letter to Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times. Two days earlier, the Times (along with The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times) had exposed the existence of a top-secret government effort to monitor the international movement of funds between Al Qaeda and its financial collaborators.
Time to put those coffee cups down again, sports fans, because Sweetness & Lighthas discovered an editorial humorously published by none other than The New York Times back on September 24, 2001, strongly advocating the Bush administration, as a result of the attacks just thirteen days prior, impose a variety of new procedures to track down and shut off the funding for terrorists (hat tip to Clarice Feldman at American Thinker).
The editorial entitled “Finances of Terror” began:
“Organizing the hijacking of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took significant sums of money. The cost of these plots suggests that putting Osama bin Laden and other international terrorists out of business will require more than diplomatic coalitions and military action. Washington and its allies must also disable the financial networks used by terrorists.”
Now that sounds like a great idea. The article wisely continued:
Perhaps sensing that editor Bill Keller’s arrogant open letter didn't do the job, today’s masthead editorial in the New York Times makes another defense of the paper’s latest terrorist-program wrecking scoop, mostly by accusing conservatives of attacking the paper’s patriotism.
The defensive “Patriotism and the Press” begins:
“Over the last year, The New York Times has twice published reports about secret antiterrorism programs being run by the Bush administration. Both times, critics have claimed that the paper was being unpatriotic or even aiding the terrorists.”