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.”
After several discussions over the last few days from people who say "specifically, what law did the New York Times violate?" Here it is. The legal remedy for what the New York Times has done is the death penalty and confiscation of the newspaper.
(a) Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate… to any foreign government, or to any faction or party… whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States… any document, writing… plan… or information relating to the national defense, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life, except that the sentence of death shall not be imposed unless the jury or, if there is no jury, the court, further finds that the offense resulted in the identification by a foreign power… directly concerned… early warning systems, or other means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack; war plans; communications intelligence…. or any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy. (b) Whoever, in time of war, with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy, collects, records, publishes, or communicates, or attempts to elicit any information with respect to… any other information relating to the public defense, which might be useful to the enemy, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life. (c) If two or more persons conspire to violate this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy. (d) (1) Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall forfeit to the United States irrespective of any provision of State law— (A) any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of such violation, and (B) any of the person’s property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission of, such violation.
Howard Kurtz takes his online lamentations of criticism of the breathtaking arrogance of the New York Times into the paper today. The headline is "Piling On the New York Times With a Scoop." From there, you can see Problem Numero Uno. Kurtz, like other media people with blinders on, pretends that the Times is merely an honest broker of information that is "piled on," but can never "pile on" the White House or other conservative targets. If Kurtz wrote about the Times "piling on" Bush again, wouldn't it look tilted? It certainly looks like the media circling the wagons for media buddies on this story.
"Even by modern standards of media-bashing, the volume of vitriol being heaped upon on the editors on Manhattan's West 43rd Street is remarkable," Kurtz writes. But the wildest quote Kurtz runs is Tammy Bruce comparing the Times to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Bush and Cheney were stern, but hardly unsparing.
But critics of the Bush administration handing of the war question
whether the ambitious goals for withdrawing troops are realistic given
the difficulties in maintaining order there. The insurgency has proven
resilient despite several big military operations over the years, and
previous forecasts of significant troop withdrawals have yet to
Now, after criticizing Democratic lawmakers for
trying to legislate a timeline for withdrawing troops, skeptics say,
the Bush administration seems to have its own private schedule, albeit
one that can be adjusted as events unfold.
You're having a first conversation with someone. Alright, maybe you don't agree with him, but he seems rational. Then, out of the blue, he blurts something so strange, so disconnected from reality, that you say to yourself 'whoah! - who is this guy?' And you go back and rethink everything else he had said in light of his suddenly-exposed madness.
That's what is was like watching Chris Matthews' interview of Ken Auletta on this evening's Hardball. Alright, Auletta's the media columnist of the New Yorker. So you have no illusions. This is a liberal. Even so, he seems so urbane, so calm, even reasonable. You could almost imagine having a drink and a conversation at sunset on the deck of one of those fancy Hampton houses you picture him visiting on weekends.
The criticism of the New York Times for its bank-monitoring story has gotten so bad, says Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz, that "I think those folks would repeal the First Amendment tomorrow if they could," he says, speaking of conservative criticism in the blogosphere and elsewhere.
Kurtz holds the classic MSM belief that First Amendment = New York Times, that you can't have one without the other. Since the New York Times is the very embodiment of one part of the Constitution, it is equal to President Bush, who is merely the embodiment of another part.
Man, I have never seen this kind of Times-bashing before.
There is one heckuva conservative backlash building against the New York Times for publishing that piece about the administration's secret access to banking records in terror investigations.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared on FNC's "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday morning to address the "breathtaking arrogance" of the New York Times deciding what national-security secrets should be divulged. Brent loved John Snow's letter noting that arrogance, and suggested that the Times didn't show a "left-wing agenda" on this story, but a "far-left-wing agenda." See our posted video and handy Times Watch links here. Here's a transcript:
Co-host E.D. Hill: “Our next guest says the New York Times is guilty of treason. Treason, for publishing that piece on that secret government program that tracks terrorist finances.”
Readers are duly cautioned to put down their cups of coffee, for this one is toooooo funny. The left-leaning website “Raw Story” on Monday reported comments made by members of the popular conservative website “Free Republic” to a post concerning the recent revelations by The New York Times of the counterterrorism program using SWIFT. This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with what NewsBuster Tim Graham reported Tuesday concerning accusations of such behavior from the right by a New Orleans journalist. Is this a strategy developing on the part of the media to obfuscate the real issue?
Regardless of the answer, the comedy at Raw Story actually began with the headline (coffee cups down, please!): “Posters at right-wing board threaten to kill Times editors, reporters.”
Don’t pick up your coffee yet, for the article began: “Posters at the right-wing Free Republic message board today were roused into a fury of indignation by a news story about the New York Times' revelations of the administration's illegal programs of warrantless surveillance.”
Illegal programs? Warrantless surveillance? There have been no allegations, even by The Times, that any laws either domestic or international were violated by this program. Moreover, subpoenas were issued for all of the banking examinations performed during this operation. However, that was just the beginning, for the article then quoted some of the responses posted at FP:
White House press secretary Tony Snow was asked a number of questions during Monday’s press briefing regarding Friday’s revelations by The New York Times of a highly classified counterterrorism strategy involving a banking cooperative in Belgium called SWIFT (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). After one such question, Snow took the Times to task: “[I]f The New York Times decides that it is going to try to assume responsibility for determining which classified secrets remain classified and which don’t, it ought to accept some of the obligations of that responsibility; it ought to be able to take the heat, as well.”
He marvelously continued:
“Traditionally in this country in a time of war, members of the press have acknowledged that the Commander-in-Chief, in the exercise of his powers, sometimes has to do things secretly in order to protect the public. This is a highly unusual departure. It’s interesting, The Times, talking about this being a—this program having been a departure from previous banking efforts. This is also a departure from long-standing traditions here in the United States.”
And even more marvelously concluded: “The New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public’s right to know, in some cases, might override somebody’s right to live, and whether, in fact, the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans."
What follows is a full transcript of this exchange, along with a video link courtesy of Expose the Left. For those that are interested, more commentary and a detailed analysis of this subject can be found here.
National Review Online published an editorial today on the unfolding outrage over the New York Times deigning itself the country's Moderators-in-Chief -- we shall declare what the nation shall debate! -- and called for the government to take away their press credentials, their little badges of honor and access:
The president should match this morning’s tough talk with concrete action. Publications such as the Times, which act irresponsibly when given access to secrets on which national security depends, should have their access to government reduced. Their press credentials should be withdrawn. Reporting is surely a right, but press credentials are a privilege. This kind of conduct ought not be rewarded with privileged access.
Moreover, the Justice Department must be more aggressive than it has been in investigating national-security leaks. While prosecution of the press for publishing information helpful to the enemy in wartime would be controversial, pursuit of the government officials who leak it is not. At the very least, members of the media who report such information must be made to understand that the government will no longer regard them as immune from questioning when it investigates the leakers. They should be compelled to reveal their sources, on pain of contempt.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior editor for Commentary magazine, writes in the Weekly Standard about the justification for prosecuting journalists who endanger the country by revealing sensitive information. He cites a very concrete example of this endangerment: Pearl Harbor.
Can journalists really be prosecuted for publishing national security secrets? In the wake of a series of New York Times stories revealing highly sensitive counterterrorism programs, that question is increasingly the talk of newsrooms across the country, and especially one newsroom located on West 43rd Street in Manhattan.
Last December, in the face of a presidential warning that they would compromise ongoing investigations of al Qaeda, the Times revealed the existence of an ultrasecret terrorist surveillance program of the National Security Agency and provided details of how it operated. Now, once again in the face of a presidential warning, the Times has published a front-page article disclosing a highly classified U.S. intelligence program that successfully penetrated the international bank transactions of al Qaeda terrorists.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Bush administration on Sunday to seek criminal charges against newspapers that reported on a secret financial-monitoring program used to trace terrorists.
President (make that Times editor) Bill Keller must be feeling the heat about his paper’s irresponsible banking spy scoop from Friday. Sunday afternoon he took the trouble to publish an open letter to readers (online only) justifying his executive decision to expose the details of yet another classified terrorist surveillance program, this one involving the surveillance of bank records of a Belgian international banking cooperative called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT.
In today’s terror-stricken world, which is more vital to the public’s interest: being safe, or being informed?
This very question has come before the management of the New York Times twice in the past six months. On both occasions, even though it went completely contrary to the national security requests of the White House, their conclusion was that ignorance is indeed not bliss.
Sadly, it appears that the Times doesn’t agree with the old maxim “Tis better to be safe than sorry,” for on June 23, in what is starting to become a semi-annual event, the Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed to America and her enemies the existence of another highly classified national security program designed to identify terrorist activity before it occurs.
In this case, since shortly after 9/11, the Central Intelligence Agency has been working with a Belgian international banking cooperative called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. SWIFT provides