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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Times Isn't In Lock-step Behind The NSA Story

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2006. Sorry for beating on the New York times so much in one day (they do deserve it) but this NSA story isn't going away. And it's not going to go anywhere until the Times decides to drop this. But, their public editor, Byron Calame, put this up regarding the story. A note before you read it: Mr. Calame seems to have genuine intent with this letter. This doesn't sound like a blow-off by the Times. He admits that he has some questions about this story, and much of it has come on the heels of the public's outrage over the Times blowing this story. I trust that this man is speaking openly and honestly about his misgivings.

THE New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency.

For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States.

I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future...

...On the larger question of why the eavesdropping article finally appeared when it did, a couple of possibilities intrigue me.

One is that Times editors said they discovered there was more concern inside the government about the eavesdropping than they had initially been told. Mr. Keller's prepared statements said that "a year ago," officials "assured senior editors of The Times that a variety of legal checks had been imposed that satisfied everyone involved that the program raised no legal questions." So the paper "agreed not to publish at that time" and continued reporting.

But in the months that followed, Mr. Keller said, "we developed a fuller picture of the concerns and misgivings that had been expressed during the life of the program" and "it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood."

The impact of a new book about intelligence by Mr. Risen on the timing of the article is difficult to gauge. The book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," was not mentioned in the Dec. 16 article. Mr. Keller asserted in the shorter of his two statements that the article wasn't timed to the forthcoming book, and that "its origins and publication are completely independent of Jim's book."

The publication of Mr. Risen's book, with its discussion of the eavesdropping operation, was scheduled for mid-January - but has now been moved up to Tuesday. Despite Mr. Keller's distancing of The Times from "State of War," Mr. Risen's publisher told me on Dec. 21 that the paper's Washington bureau chief had talked to her twice in the previous 30 days about the book.

So it seems to me the paper was quite aware that it faced the possibility of being scooped by its own reporter's book in about four weeks. But the key question remains: To what extent did the book cause top editors to shrug off the concerns that had kept them from publishing the eavesdropping article for months?

A final note: If Mr. Risen's book or anything else of substance should open any cracks in the stone wall surrounding the handling of the eavesdropping article, I will have my list of 28 questions (35 now, actually) ready to e-mail again to Mr. Keller...
(Hat-Tip: Michelle Malkin) http://michellemalkin.com/archives/004190.htm

There are many questions revolving around this story. One that has remained unanswered is: Why did the Times wait until the day of the Patriot Act renewal vote to release this story? This has been a question with a bit of contention behind it. I know many people say we--as in bloggers--are reading too much into the printing of the story, but it's a question that the Times has flatly refused to answer. (All three of us--Thomas, Marcie, and myself have sent e-mails to the editors requesting an answer. To date, none of us have received an answer.) This adds fuel to the speculation, to say the least.

Bloggers don't just give news. We give commentary. We give opinion. We give specualtive arguments. This is one of those times that we have, and we're not getting answers. Further, we have received no answer from the Times regarding why they decided to blow the lid off of a clandestine program, and one in which there is no crime involved. When this story was broken, the accusations from the liberals were those of an abuse of power. There were civil liberties that were violated, and the president had a blatant disregard for the privacy of others. He had overstepped his boundaries as Commander in Chief (there are no boundaries in war), and collaborated in "domestic spying."

These accusations are completely unfounded. Had the Times actually spoken to people like Orin Kerr, Eugene Volokh, Cass Sunstein, John Hinderocker, or Glenn Reynolds they would have told the Times that there was nothing illegal about what the president had ordered the NSA to do. And I cite those people because they are some of the preeminent Constitutional minds in the country. Mr. Sunstein is the man in charge of the University of Chicago Law School. Many of the textbooks that have been used by lawyers in law school were written by this man. And for those keeping score, Mr. Sunstein is an admitted liberal. Not the extreme moonbat fringe liberals, but a true liberal. As Tammy Bruce would call him, he is a Classic Liberal.

But the Times didn't bother with the experts. They simply saw the story (which is connected to the book being published by the author of the piece), went moonbat, and started with the mudslinging. People at the Times should really do fact checking before they go off on an inmsane rant about whether or not the president has the power to do this (he does), and whether or not this program is legal (it is). On a side note, the publisher has moved it's release date for the book to this coming Tuesday instead of mid-January as the original date was listed on Amazon.com.

And as Michelle Malkin chimed in with it, I'd like to second it. If Mr. Calame has questions--35 of them, now, to be exact--then let's see them. Let's see if he really has the questions, and what they pertain to. He's the public editor, and the public would like to know. As a matter of fact, you can ask him, too. His e-mail is below along with a phone number, and snail mail address.

E-mail: public@nytimes.com
Phone: (212) 556-7652
Address: Public Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036-3959

Mistress Pundit


Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm very interested in NYT's story. Since the announcement by the AG, that it would investigated, I've created a leaker suspect list. I had forgotten about the Calame, the social editor. I would like to see his 35 questions, if any. I've added him to my list. Rawriter

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