Wash Post Refuses to Post Critique of Own Story

November 30th, 2005 2:04 PM

On page A-8 of today's Washington Post, Report on FBI Tool Disputed by Christopher Lee covers the FBI's rebuttal to a front-page story that ran Nov. 6, The FBI's Secret Scrutiny by Barton Gellman. Lee's lede today:

The Justice Department has criticized as misleading and inaccurate a Washington Post report about the FBI's expanded power to collect the private records of ordinary Americans while conducting terrorism and espionage investigations.

The Nov. 6 article detailed the dramatic increase in the use of "national security letters," a three-decade-old investigative tool that was given new life with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001. The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, a hundredfold increase over historic norms, the article said....

I'm not a big fan of these letters--you get a Black Helicopter card for free when you join the vast right-wing conspiracy. But I'd like to see the FBI's rebuttal myself:

In a 10-page letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees last week, Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella said that the report contained "distortions and factual errors." He presented a 17-point rebuttal to what he variously described as inaccurate claims, insinuations and implications, either by The Post or by critics quoted in the article.

Post it, Posties. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, it ain't available on your site, though you have a link to the original story and a "Patriot Act Primer."

You've got a nice value-added example on another story today, where Bishop Says Edict Allows Some Gay Priests by Alan Cooperman has a link to an interview with Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

So--you know how to do this. Your obligation to post that letter increases if you're going to recruit Leonard Downie to make unrebuttable claims:

Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post, said that the "Justice Department letter does not document any inaccuracies in our story on national security letters, which revealed the widespread use and limited oversight of this investigative tool. The letter relies on words like 'implies' and 'insinuates' to assert claims the story does not make. The story speaks for itself."

Great. Let the letter speak for itself.

Cross-posted at PostWatch