July 1, 2006

Trust us. We really did think deeply about it.

The editors of The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times explain how they decide when to publish a secret:
No article on a classified program gets published until the responsible officials have been given a fair opportunity to comment. And if they want to argue that publication represents a danger to national security, we put things on hold and give them a respectful hearing. Often, we agree to participate in off-the-record conversations with officials, so they can make their case without fear of spilling more secrets onto our front pages.

Finally, we weigh the merits of publishing against the risks of publishing. There is no magic formula, no neat metric for either the public's interest or the dangers of publishing sensitive information. We make our best judgment.
The two editors -- Dean Baquet and Bill Keller -- rely heavily on the idea that government officials shouldn't have the final say over what gets out and what remains secret. Citizens need to be able to evaluate these officials, who can't be trusted controlling the flow of information. As Baquet and Keller put it: "They want us to protect their secrets, and they want us to trumpet their successes." Government officials are biased toward suppressing things that make them look bad, and the press needs to bring out the full story, so that citizens can exercise the independent judgment that is crucial to democracy.

But the recently revealed secrets -- about the surveillance of telephone call patterns and financial transactions -- were not cases of government suppressing failures. These ongoing programs were successful, and revealing the secrets impaired the operation of very significant efforts in the war on terrorism. I realize that there are arguments that people need to know about successes that are subject to controversy: the telephone surveillance program is attacked as an illegal invasion of privacy.

Here, Baquet and Keller have written a lengthy defense of their behavior, behavior that they know has been severely criticized, even called "treason." Despite the length, the piece seems padded. Look at that last paragraph in the blockquote above. We judge, we weigh, we make judgments. Essentially, trust us. Trust us, because you shouldn't just trust the government. Agreed, but why should we trust you? We look at what you just did and feel mistrustful. What in these generic remarks cures that mistrust? You tell us you really did think about it. Those who abhor what you did will not feel inspired to trust you when you say this is where we ended up when we really thought deeply about it.

MORE: Here's a related article in tomorrow's NYT, going into the history of publishing government secrets. It quotes Ben Bradlee's memoir:
"Officials often — more often than not, in my experience — use the claim of national security as a smoke screen to cover up their own embarrassment."
It's good to remember the problem with trusting the government. It will want to cover up mistakes. But let's also remember that this is not the case with the recent disclosures.

YET MORE: Stephen Bainbridge quotes my post and writes:
Exactly. With great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, Baquet and Keller have given us no reason to believe that they exercise their power responsibly. Oh well. Given the trend of market forces, Baquet and Keller will be out of business soon enough. And they'll probably still be wondering why.
I just want to say that I love the NYT and hope it solves its business and other problems. I'm not even considering stopping reading it or ending home delivery, which I've taken for decades.


Dustin said...

Trust a hired editor over an elected official... because they say so?

Sure, of course! If you say so Bob!

Tom Paine said...

Keller/Baquet’s “explanation” is a dishonest red herring – a coverup for their own wrongdoing.

There was no government wrongdoing for them to expose – and they knew it.

They destroyed a successful national security program out of arrogance, hubris -- and to sell newspapers.

We should “trust” people like that?

A prosecutor should ask them who their sources were and slap them in jail until they reveal – with no face-saving deals on offer.

Adam said...

This is simple: the obligation of a newspaper is to print the truth when it finds it -- not just the good truth, and not just the bad.

Also, any terrorist who didn't anticipate that we were doing something like this anyway is an idiot.

Birkel said...

"...print the truth when it finds it..."

All the truth? The truth about what you, Adam, have done that you wished nobody knew? The truth about everything at every place at every time?

You're creating an idealized vision of the impossible, for one thing, Adam. Should the Chicago Tribune have printed the fact that America had broken the Axis' secret code? That was truth and yet every newspaper agreed to hide that success so that fewer Americans would die in battle.

Make a reasonable argument instead of creating an obvious straw man.

Save the bumper sticker talk for your bumper. It's a useful tool that way, for sorting those with whom I might speak from those I'd like to avoid.

Birkel said...


It is government's job to make sure people don't go splodey dope in a Sbarro's in middle America. The SWIFT (It's an acronym so it gets all caps. See?) program was helping toward that end.

I think I speak for most Brits when I say I'm glad James Bond and the rest of MI5 broke the law trying to stop the use of nukes and other WMD. The same is true when the CIA broke laws of other countries to stop the transfer of weapons technology.


Adam said...

They gave gov't officials the opportunity to demonstrate whether printing this information would compromise national security. In the editors' judgment, it didn't, and I'm still not seeing what's so shocking about this program that it needed to be kept silent.

It's impossible to evaluate this in full because none of us know how many things editors have learned about that they've opted not to print.

Unknown said...


It's not so simple.

A hypothetical. Suppose a traitor leaked the specifics of Operation Overlord on June 1, 1944. All true.

Should the Times run it?

Birkel said...


Lay down with dogs and you'll get fleas.

Get your news from Olbermann and you'll get stupid.

Same principle at work.

buddy larsen said...

...if it wasn't news, why was it on the front page?

JohnF said...

Trust the Times? This is the organization that thought the leakers of Plame's identity should be prosecuted because the disclosure supposedly impaired national security, but apparently do not feel the same way about the leakers of SWIFT stuff, which actually did impair national security. Yeah, I trust them.

I wonder who is in charge there. Does the Board of Directors of the Times support this?

Jake said...

The fact that the Times' NSA story was published concurrently with a splashy book by the author of the article could lead one to think that "trust" is not a good basis for accepting the paper's editorial judgements.

There is, of course, one way to discourage the Times from publishing national security secrets. It would be to simply turn off the subscription.

I wonder how may people, wailing about damage to national security, still waddle down to the end of the driveway to pick up the blue bag.

buddy larsen said...

As far as the NYTimes being automatically spotless because conservative administrations are "always" complaining about it--that's a pretty extreme horse-before-cart, blame-the-victim, tautology.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

As evidence of how "deeply" they think about revealing things they only have to offer covering up Stalin's wholesale murder of the Ukranians and others.

Bruce Hayden said...

Part of their problem is that the NYT is so obviously obsessed with taking down Bush and Cheney, that their objecctivity is suspect. Their behavior during the 2004 election doesn't help their cause - from obsessing about abu Ghraib and Bush's TANG record for months, without questioning why Kerry's discharge was so delayed (and ignoring whether he served even one day of his equivalent Naval Reserve committment), up through the Labor Day Surprise (that backfired). Needless to say, this continued through the Wilson article and their heated insistance that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate the Plame "outing".

So, the NYT editors have repeatedly listened to the Administration and concluded that they hadn't made a case that the NYT disclosing programs would harm those programs. Is it any surprise that many question their objectivity?

And, as pointed out above, the question isn't about covering up Administration venality, but rather, about the Administration trying to protect relatively successful programs.

Unknown said...


Great question that gets to the heart of the matter.

I think most of us value a deeply skeptical, if not adversarial press, but at the end of the day we expect good judgment.

A wiser Keller might have reasoned something like this: "Ya know I don't really trust these bastards, but this program appears to be legal and effective and classified. Maybe it will help get the bad guys. Let's take a pass for now."

Bongo Journalist said...

They have their defenders, even if the one located at the link I supply is addicted to drugs.

Lefty Addict

Winston Smith said...

Unless I'm mistaken, one can only commit treason if one's intention is to betray the country. Surely no sane person thinks that this is what the NYT intended.

We're all worried about their decision to print the story in question. It may have been bad judgment, but it's clearly not treason. That's a very serious term, incidentally, that should be reserved for very serious offenses.

buddy larsen said...

There is also the public's right to not know, and mine has been repeatedly violated by Pinch & gang.

They're stringing out this war, which they are ostensibly against, creating more of the bloodshed they want you to believe they abhor, and doing it all as the functioning house organ of a Democratic party that lost its mind in Florida 2000.

Unknown said...


You've got your traitorous leaks mixed up.

This thread is about the SWIFT leak, not the NSA leak.

The Times reports that SWIFT is legal and effective. Of course, we should consider the source.

Tim said...

It would be a lot easier to trust the editors of the NY and LA Times if we didn't realize they oppose the war.

Unknown said...


Ah, there's that vaunted wit and charm. Just the kind of post to elevate a thread.

Unknown said...

I can imagine the scene in the office during "a respectful hearing," the cartoon blurb over Keller's head reading "I'm going to bury you, Chimpy!"

For all the posters who say that the disclosure was of no effect, I refer you to this analysis, which points out that several big terrorists were captured by the SWIFT program after it was outed in a UN report. So maybe they didn't get the memo--thank goodness the NYT apprised them of this nefarious scheme--or they are indeed stupid.

Yes, some terrorists are idiots.

buddy larsen said...

Experts on the GWoT are unanimous that these leaks are making much more difficult and less effective our anti-terror joint operations with allied foreign intelligence services.

Is this really a price that we *all* must continue paying, on behalf of the self-interested political partisans in control of the NYTimes?

Unknown said...

Why should I trust this government?

This government has been spying on gay college students, solely because they oppose don't ask, don't tell. That's pretty disgusting if you ask me.


Under what authority does the government have the permission to mine the SWIFT Database? Under what law? While well intentioned, there is ample argument that it was an illegal action by the government. That's nice that they declare it to be "successful", but how do we really know that? Because they say so? Bush publicly declared that the government was going to mine financial data of terrorists back in 2002.

Thank goodness the New York Times printed this. I'm very interested when the government is breaking the law, even if it is for "good" reasons. If you don't want to trust the New York Times, then don't read it. I'm glad I have that information at my fingertips now though.

As a gay person, I'm a hell of a lot more scared of the government invading my privacy rights than I am of some terrorists trying to kill me (which IS a real threat - but it is quite small). And I live in New York.

I realize that most Americans don't give a hoot about privacy, liberty, and freedom. They don't care that our government tortures people. But I do, and sorry, that doesn't make me a terrorist.

DRJ said...

From Ms. Althouse's post:

"As Baquet and Keller put it: "They want us to protect their secrets, and they want us to trumpet their successes." Government officials are biased toward suppressing things that make them look bad, and the press needs to bring out the full story, so that citizens can exercise the independent judgment that is crucial to democracy."

Now try this:

"As Bush and Cheney put it: "The MSM and the press want to protect their secrets, and they want to trumpet their successes." The MSM and the press are biased toward suppressing things that make them look bad, and the government needs to bring out the full story so that citizens can exercise the independent judgment that is crucial to democracy."

Isn't it ironic that public scrutiny works both ways? What the press and the government overlook is that the point is the public's interest in being informed. I'm tired of both parties guarding their own turfs so jealously that no one wins and the public always loses.

In the SWIFT matter, I'm not happy that the original leakers and the NYT decided to play gotcha with the Bush Administration on this issue, but the government should aggressively investigate and prosecute the leaks. If it doesn't, we'll know once again that while the Bush Administration fears the MSM and the press, it certainly doesn't fear the public.

Randy said...

While well intentioned, there is ample argument that it was an illegal action by the government.

Do you have a reference to someone with actual legal knowledge and experience in this area that makes such an argument? Thus far, I have not run across any who have. Thanks.

buddy larsen said...

DTL, maybe you are able to feel little-threatened by terrorism because for several years now you have been well-protected from terrorists?

If the universal dread of Americans on 9-12-01, that the WTC was the first attack and there would surely be more, had materialized (rather than slowly faded thru time and a successful forward-defense), do you think you would elevate your--or anyone else's--special-interest cultural grievance over the life-and-limb preservation of your countrymen--and your self?

Randy said...

I realize that most Americans don't give a hoot about privacy, liberty, and freedom.

I have seen no evidence of that. Can you provide a source for that statement supported by research of public opinion?

They don't care that our government tortures people.

Again, please provide a source to back up that statement.

But I do, and sorry, that doesn't make me a terrorist.

No, it doesn't. I don't know how to say this without offending you, but I think it makes you a very average American.

Tim said...

Downtown lad, you've got problems with which few can help you.

Regardless, its funny how those who declaim the allegedly treasonous outing of Mrs. Wilson who, by all records, was hardly under cover are generally the same folks celebrating the NY and LA Times efforts to arm America's enemies with information necessary to kill more Americans.

At best one might think this simply political, but you should understand why some of us think their patriotism has no more integrity than a street hooker's chastity.

Kathy E. Gill said...

You fail to note that the Wall Street Journal also broke this story. Why leave that paper out of your critique? Might it be because it's a conservative paper? Have WSJ editors yet explained their rationale?

Randy said...

Yes, Kathy they have. Yesterday. On their editorial page. You can probably read it at opinionjournal.com It might prove enlightening to you, but somehow I doubt it.

Unknown said...


Please don't even suggest that I have an ounce of patriotism in my body. I don't. That's insulting.

All in all, while I like this country, there are some things wrong with it. And I don't think that our country is morally superior to all others. There are lots of decent countries in this world, some of which are better than this country.

I'm too intelligent to fall for that rah-rah jingoistic cheering. It's infantile.

When this country has faults - I have zero qualms pointing them out. Our country will be better off for it.

Again - people are so stupid that they equate criticism with the government for support of terrorism. The insinuation is that because I criticize Bush I must therefore love the terrorists. How silly. I have quite frequently stated my disgust for the Islamo-Fascists. And I supported both the Afghan and the Iraq War quite vocally.

David implies that gay people should support Bush, because he's not knocking walls down on us. Again - that's insulting to the intelligence of gay people, insisting that we tolerate crap, because it could be worse. Give me a break.

But I still expect the President to follow the law. And if he doesn't like the law, then Congress should pass a new one. Again - that doesn't make me a terrorist.

I, for one, have just initiated a subscription to the New York Times. I usually read the Wall Street Journal, but I thought I'd show my support to the Times.

Randy said...

Here's the link, Kathy:


Synova said...

Kathy, I think that most people are under the impression that the WSJ did not "break" this story but printed it when the "cat was out of the bag."

That impression may be wrong. If so, explaining why it is a wrong impression might get the results you'd like to get.

Randy said...

Jacques, and the Editors of the New York Times would like everyone to overlook this crucial paragraph in the WSJ editorial:

Around the same time, Treasury contacted Journal reporter Glenn Simpson to offer him the same declassified information. Mr. Simpson has been working the terror finance beat for some time, including asking questions about the operations of Swift, and it is a common practice in Washington for government officials to disclose a story that is going to become public anyway to more than one reporter. Our guess is that Treasury also felt Mr. Simpson would write a straighter story than the Times, which was pushing a violation-of-privacy angle; on our reading of the two June 23 stories, he did.

It serves The Times interests to pretend that their stories were the same and that there was no genuine difference in their sources. Such was not the case. Once again, The Times chooses to rewrite the facts to suit its ends.

SteveWe said...


Are you capable of posting anything without calling people names or making derrogatory comments about them? Must you always resort to attacking the person instead of the argument? How old are you Jacques? Your posts don't reflect well on your maturity or ability to make reasoned arguments!

Randy said...

synova: You hit the nail on the head! The WSJ says that is exactly what happened and that they were contacted by the Treasury Dept. once the Treasury Dept. was informed that the New York Times was going with the story.

Facts are such inconvenient things.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Randy said...

Having criticized the New York Times for their decision to publish, and their subsequent misrepresentation of the facts while defending that decision, I believe that those who claim that The Times editors' actions were treasonous are wrong.

Unknown said...

By your reasoning, we should reveal every secret the government, military, CIA, FBI has in order that not one gay person should be investigated? You must have more faith than I in the invincibility of the nation.

Unknown said...

That's bullshit Jaques.

Ann is one of the few blogs across the ideological spectrum that actually tolerates people with differing views.

People might oppose your comments vehemently, but as long as you can stand up for your beliefs, you'll do fine here.

Unknown said...

Patca - I think we should reveal every ILLEGAL secret. There's a difference.

Hopefully the vast majority of our secrets are within the law.

Spying on gay college students - ILLEGAL.

Unknown said...

If you really wanted to protect Americans from terrorism, we would stop the financial donations to religious institutions from abroad.

We would deport every Muslim in this country, who is not a citizen, who holds extremist views.

As long as I see Bush hosting radical Islamists at the White House, sorry - I don't take this administration seriously when it comes to fighting the war on terror.

buddy larsen said...

Well, I guess that's about it, on the WSJ bit, hey? Looks like the NYTimes has the tar baby all to itself. Gonna make a great GOP campaign commercial. Whose side is Bill Keller on, anyway?

Anonymous said...

Bill and Dean still think the question everyone wants to ask them is "Did you do a seemly amount of agonizing first?"

Sorry, guys. It's actually "Who the hell do you think you are?"

Wade Garrett said...

Maybe its just that I was raised by Watergate-era Democrats, but I'm not inclined to trust the government. This administration in particular has abused my trust by creating secret torture prisons and starting a war (a war I supported) on what turned out to be false pretenses. I think we need to win the war in Iraq, but what they did was shameful, and between that and the covert torture and Valerie Plame, I'm sorry, but I don't trust these guys any further than I could throw them.

Wade Garrett said...

Tidalpoet - That is a false dichotomy. Leaving aside the trustworthiness of elected officials (which is dubious at best in most cases), 99.99% of the military/intelligence apparatus is unelected. What they do is TOTALLY opaque. That's necessary in a lot of ways, but it also creates situations where career bureaucrats can abuse our faith in their discretion.

Jennifer said...

DTL - I would clarify that the groups in the article you link are accusing the government of spying on them.

As you said earlier, why should we believe them? Because they say so?

vnjagvet said...

JC made a statement in an earlier comment that I had trouble understanding:

"And Hamdan's use of Youngstown certainly seems to have a big ramification on Ann's vaunted totalitarian executive theory."

I am impressed that JC took the time to read the nearly 200 pages of the entire round of Hamdan opinions.

I somehow missed Justice Stevens heavy reliance on Youngstown.

As I read the opinion, it looked to me that he spent most of his time distinguishing Quirin, Yamashita and Eisentrager, the cases relied on by the US. Perhaps I missed something. Care to enlighten me on how you think Stevens relied on Youngstown, JC?

On another subject, it impressed me that the arguments for Hamdan that carried the day were made by Hamdan's appointed counsel, a senior Naval JAG Officer. It was yet another impressive demonstration that our military justice system still is the one of the best (if not the best) in the world.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Raise you hands if you heard of SWIFT before the NYT times story.

Hmmm, I thought no one had.

Not every financial insitution is affiliated with SWIFT. Now terrorists know not to use the ones that are.

Some of you have said "Bush said we were following the money, so the Ne York Times didn't disclose anything". But now people know which specific financial institutions were involved in helping to follow the money.

How is this different from "FDR says we're cracking the Axis codes, so it doesn't matter if we print that we've specifically cracked the Enigma machine"?

Are you too stupid to distinguish between the generic and the specific? Can you not tell the difference between "we've got undercover cops on the case" and "we've got three undercover cops, here are their names and badge numbers"?

Alexandra said...

All Things Beautiful TrackBack The 'Bush Spied Privacy Died' Hysterics At The NYT Should Be Prosecuted:

"But not to worry, after getting slammed for daring to attempt to catch terrorists using our NSA data mining program, and surveillance of financial transactions, we are now working on mind reading techniques. That of course will take some time....
UPDATE III July 1st: The inimitable Ann Althouse pens a must read"

Adam said...

Justice Stevens only made a slight reference to Youngstown in a footnote, for the wholly uncontroversial position that "Whether or not the President has independent power, absent congressional authorization, to convene military commissions, he may not disregard limitations that Congress has, in proper exercise of its own war powers, placed on his powers."

vnjagvet said...


I have seen nothing about Lt. Cdr. Swift being punished for his spectacular legal work.

The following quote comes from this cite:


"I started telling people about Navy Lt. Commander Charles Swift.

Lieutenant Commander Swift, a military lawyer, you see, was assigned to defend Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who served as a driver for Osama bin Ladin. Hamdan was charged before the kangaroo military commissions set up by the Pentagon to try to provide a sense of legitimacy to the detentions in Guantanamo and elsewhere. People like Mr. Hamdan were charged first with the hopes that, finding it impossible to mount a plausible defense, they would plead guilty, in return for reduced time. Their participation, it was hoped, would make the process appear somewhat acceptable, if not perfect.

Commander Swift and other military lawyers, however, put a stop to that charade. They launched a vigorous defense, going all the way up to the Supreme Court -- even filing lawsuits in civilian courts in their own names on behalf of their clients who have no such access. They challenged every aspect of the process, from the judges, to the rules of evidence, to the tribunals themselves. They maintained that their clients had the right to presumption of innocence, just like everyone else, and that the charges against them would have to proven, not assumed. (In fact, Mr. Hamdan maintains he was just a driver for hire trying to make a living.)

Cmdr. Swift and others persisted, and remarkably, they have torn apart the whole sham -- very deservedly so. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld produced a stunning loss to the administration as Judge James Robertson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that President Bush “had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions in establishing military commissions to try detainees at the United States naval base here as war criminals.” Cmdr. Swift and other military lawyers have been traveling at home and abroad, openly and loudly denouncing the military commission system as illegitimate, unfair and unacceptable.

People gasp with disbelief as they ponder these American career military lawyers, randomly assigned to defend people their government has designated as terrorists and locked up without charges, during a process clearly designed to provide not justice but a fig-leaf show-trial, taking on the executive branch so boldly and openly. How many countries, I ask, produce men of such integrity in their armed forces who would actually defend Osama Bin Ladin’s driver as a client innocent until proven guilty? Would you, I ask? Yes, there is a very ugly, cruel side to U.S. foreign policy and imperialism, but there is also this."

As this is not a right wing site, I suspect there would have been something said about "punishment" were that happening to Commander Swift.

If you have some evidence that this is happening, I, for one, would be the first to volunteer to find the best legal counsel in the country to assist him on a pro bono basis.

buddy larsen said...

I think the timing of the phases of the war in conjunction with the 2004 election tempted the entire NYTimes brain trust into deciding to brand the war as "Bush's War" and then do a Vietnam on it and the president.

Now, having politicized it with such great alacrity, the brain trust feels that it must avoid the onus of having stupidly handed Bush a serendipitous political victory.

Facts such as, Bush never wanted to--and tried hard not to--politicize what should have been a all-in national effort, and that the war is existential and over the future of the way the world will be, and that the enemy are true cutthroats deploying lethal combinations of religious dogma, petro-wealth, and exploitable regional rivalries, are all mere secondary trifles when compared to the glitter, glamor, prestige, and power of winning back that White House.

I think this is about as deep as it goes. Alas, the imbalance between the grave and the banal seems beyond the appreciation of the little anointed hippie, Pinch.

vnjagvet said...

Thanks, Adam.

I was wondering if JC would own up to that before his disingenuousness was revealed.

Oh! What webs we weave......

Jennifer said...

Quxxo - In the articles you link, civilians and Lt. Cmdr Swift speculate that it's possible that this may hurt his career.

The only person who speaks with authority, his former supervisor, speculates that his singular focus on litigation will prevent him from rising beyond his current rank.

Hardly backs up your claim that the man is being punished for his defense of Hamdan.

vnjagvet said...


You implied you had read the opinion. I did not need to google, because I had read it.

I made a statement about the opinion questioning your quote about Youngstown.

You took the bait and continued comment as if you had read the opinion.

Adam called you on it and you blame me?

Sorry it won't work, lad.

And your point about Swift's "punishment" is not well taken. I am sure he realized when he took on the Hamdan defense as a Senior JAG officer that trial work would not help in the promotion race. As someone said in the story, he did not get his ticket punched in the right boxes for promotion. When an officer works on one case for a long period of time he cannot be doing other things.

I am pretty sure he made his decisions with his eyes open.

He can now write his ticket in civilian life. $500k plus per year (what he will likely be offered with a large law firm) is scarcely "punishment".

buddy larsen said...

From the Paul Shukovsky article--scroll about halfway:

Swift's first supervisor at the Office of Commissions was Col. Will Gunn, who said Friday that he gave Swift two annual fitness reports and "I gave him very high ratings overall."

Asked whether he thought politics might have played a role in Swift being bypassed for promotion, Gunn focused on Swift's atypical career as a military lawyer. "Charlie has spent a lot of time as a litigator, a trial advocate. That's really unusual in the JAG. You find that people in the more senior ranks have moved around and proved themselves in a variety of settings."

Most of Swift's career has been spent in the courtroom.

"While Charlie is a brilliant guy, a tenacious litigator, he does not have all the blocks checked like some other folks have," Gunn said. He called it a "breadth-of-experience" issue.

Great way to prove your made-up baloney, there, JC.

Ann Althouse said...

Okay, you've slipped into the repetitive personal preening that has wrecked previous threads. I am forced to delete most of your comments because of this. It's not all about you. Whenever you succeed in making it about you, I will destroy the evidence that you have. I let you go for a while but you abused my hospitality. Next time, I won't give a reason. I will just destroy. So remember the reason.

Ann Althouse said...

Please, don't talk to him. You are giving him what he wants. Sorry to delete the work of generally good commenters, but you've got to stop letting the troll make the thread about him. Check the original post again for the actual subject matter.

buddy larsen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian said...

As Bob Wright - no fan of President Bush - has pointed out, while Al Qaeda may at one time have had a hierarchical corporate structure, today it is decentralized, and is more akin to a "brand" than an organization exhibiting top-down control (and if the "brand" analogy goes too far, in any case many Al Qaeda cells have considerable operational independence.)

One consequence of this is that both knowledge and the decision to use particular tactics or methods of operation cannot be imputed to "Al Qaeda" generally. Thus, comments to the effect the "the terrorists" or "Al Qaeda" had to know about the SWIFT and the surveillance of SWIFT are off the mark. Maybe some in Al Qaeda knew (but likely very few, as many bankers don't know about SWIFT), but that says nothing about others in AL Qaeda who would make monitored international money transfers.

The NY Times deliberately damaged our security and aided the enemy. That might not have been the specific intention of the principals involved, but the law (and moral common sense) teaches us that individuals are responsible for the natural and probable consequences of their acts.

Keller and Co. are morally repulsive people, and they should face some kind of consequence for their conduct, if only to deter repeat performances by themselves and others.

vnjagvet said...

Sorry, Ann:

Comments on the Hamdan case seemed tangentially relevant to the general question of executive authority to instituted programs designed to "connect dots" and smoke out potential domestic terrorism while it is in its planning stages here and overseas.

I was trying to squash the Youngstown argument, and got off on a tangent of my own.

The NYT and its followers want to make their case against the current administration from both directions. If the steps it takes are deemed ineffective, they are "inept". If it takes steps that are acknowledged to be effective, it is implied to be imposing on our privacy.

During WWI, WWII and Korea, all fought under Democrat administrations, there was actual overt censorship, which was generally accepted by most Republicans and all but the fringes of each end of the political spectrum.

Sad to say that we cannot pull together that way today.

Strangely, I think the Hamdan case might encourage a consensus at least in Congress.

buddy larsen said...

Amen, Brian--exactly so. It's like a body blow sometimes to realize just how contemptuous those people are of damn near everything most people hold important.

Paul Hogue said...

So absurd...it totally bypasses the contents of their own reporting (no expressly critcized illegalities; checks in place and multiple examples of it's effectiveness) as well as ignoring the responsibilities that come with their job as "government watchdogs."

I work for a small newspaper in California and they published an editorial this week in support of the Times' decision to publish. They likewise relied on the "Government can't be trusted," logic while ignoring questions of responsibility or any of the excellent points raised by Heather MacDonald in her piece at The Weekly Standard.

Just because the potential for abuse exists, as MacDonald points out, doesn't mean that it is actually occuring. Risen and Lichtblau made it clear that there was no abuse actively occuring in the SWIFT program yet they were convinced it needed to be exposed. There was no good reason for it.

Keller cited the public interest, yet he nor Risen and Lichtblau nor anyone else in the week since has made anything resembling a strong case as to what that compelling public interest actually was.

Ann Althouse said...

vnjagvet: It's fine to talk about Hamdan and to develop the subject on the substance. My objection is to feeding the troll, whose goal is to make it all about him. Don't help him.

Wade Garrett said...

The New York Times isn't going anywhere. "Almost everything that most people hold dear?" Please, that's just empty rhetoric. The New York Times has broken a lot of important stories over the years, and along with the Washington Post did this country a great service with its publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Deep Throat-inspired Watergate coverage, and so forth. It was also did a lot to publicize the civil rights movement when most major papers were still ignoring it. Once in a while, it will make a mistake, but if the Bush administration had the New York Times Editorial Board's track record in making these sort of judgment calls then we'd all be in a better off.

You're a career civil service worker. Your boss gives you an order that is against the law. If you blow the whistle, your career is ruined, and if you don't obey the order, you get fired. What else are you supposed to do? I salute the New York Times for going public with this information. I would rather err on the side of telling the public too much than not telling them enough.

vnjagvet said...

I understand.

JC does not have nearly the substance of Armando, when he used to show up here from time to time.

I won't be tempted in the future.

Wade Garrett said...

Also, I doubt the terrorists failed to realize that the government was tracking their telephone calls and their financial records -- governments have been doing that since at least World War II. I don't know of any Democrats who object to them doing it. Its the way they choose to go about doing it, however, which is unduly intrusive, lacks judicial oversight, and allows the government to invade people's privacy for the sake of humiliating their political opponents (its happened) that bothers us. The press annoys me at times, but it is the only thing that keeps the government on its toes.

Beth said...

How did this story impair the operations? I keep reading that assertion, but there's no follow up on exactly how. There have also been numerous statements that we would trace the money that finances terrorism, going back to right after Sept. 11, so how is this a surprise? What terrorist hasn't known this? There's nothing so far to persuade me that printing this story has in any way hampered our efforts to fight terrorism.

buddy larsen said...

You're a good defender, Terry. But you can't generalize away the current level of politicization of programs that most people wish would be left to the province of the war-fighting duties of the government, so long as the war is on and the government has to fight active foreign enemies in the field.

Unknown said...

"One consequence of this is that both knowledge and the decision to use particular tactics or methods of operation cannot be imputed to "Al Qaeda" generally."

That's correct, and if the history of the European terrorists of the '60s is any indication, the terrorists of today are similarly hindered by the fact that it takes two people on the outside to support one person in hiding, with money, safe houses, travel, and information about what the police are planning next. The Euro police in the '60s broke the back of the successor groups by going after their lines of support. Today it would be a program such as SWIFT.

Bruce Hayden said...

Yes, the NYT has broken a lot of important stories over the years. But, for example, the Pentagon Papers was 30 years ago. This is today. Looking at what the paper has done in the last couple of years is far more relevant than what it did 30+ years ago.

The fact that the NYT breaks a story doesn't make it good that it was broken. And the fact that it had noble intent 30 years ago doesn't mean that it has noble intent today.

As I noted above, its motives are highly suspect because of its apparent crusade against the current Administration. If it hadn't tried so hard to take Bush and Cheney down over the years, and esp. during the 2004 campaign, then it might have more credability in claiming that it objectively looked at the government's claims, and then rejected them. Rather, because its objectivity is so suspect, it appears to many that this was done primarily to hurt the Administration, and not for some high handed noble purpose.

As for the idea that people should be immune from prosecution for violating the law, because they might lose their jobs if they complained, you really have nothing to back yourself up on this. We don't know who leaked to the NYT, and so can't say whether or not they might have been fired if they whistle blew.

Besides, there are prescribed ways to whistle blow as to this sort of information, and the NYT is not included. If they had gone through their IG, and the to Congress, then, fine. They didn't, rather, they violated the law and their oath, going straight to the NYT.

Finally, on this subject, you are positing civil disobedience. But for an ordered society, that requires being willing to pay the price of the disobedience. Anonymous leaking to the NYT doesn't show this willingness to pay the presecribed price, but rather, the willingness to avoid it at all costs.

Randy said...


1) Not all banks use SWIFT.
2) Terrorists who did know attempts were being made to trace their money did not know how.
3) Now they do.

Tim said...

Downtown Lad,

I'm sorry you find your nation's existence so painful. Might you move to one more accommodating to your aesthetics?

Anyway, even the editors of the NY and LA Times concede the SWIFT program was legal. Deafening is the silence coming from capitol hill Democrats defending the Times' releasing of this secret and lawful program targeting the efforts of America's enemies to finance killing more Americans.

Renew your subscription to those who aid and abet America's enemies as you will, but spare us the nonsense about celebrating who they are. They've done no one but America's enemies any favors, and it is disingenuous in the extreme to assert otherwise.

buddy larsen said...

Elizabeth, the principals involved themselves say these leaks hurt.

Porter Goss not long ago made a huge deal of how badly the leaks hamper our ability to work internationally against the enemy organizations.

We can take the position that we don't believe Goss, or Bush, or any of the like-minded current & former principals commenting across the spectrum, but that would mean ignoring many lifetime records of public service integrity in favor of believing the press's own vague imputations of anti-press political motives for the outcry.

Do we need, in order to ask NYTimes to quit doing this stuff, to see foreign intelligence operatives stepping forward by name and affiliation, to say that, the hell with it, they're through working with this administration because it can't keep its secrets?

It's not just NSA and SWIFT, remember--it's the "torture gulag" and "secret CIA flights" (replete with flight schedules and aircraft IDs) and hundreds upon hundreds of front page Abu Graib and the like stories, invariably de-contexted and de-proportionalized--and that's just for starters.

There's also the other side of the ledger; the stories that the "All The News That Fits" folks can never find reason to fit.

Unknown said...

SWIFT was first revealed in a UN report in 2002. Yet several major terrorists have been captured since then by SWIFT, so obviously they didn't all "already know anyway." They sure do now, though. Now a legal and effective tool is now possibly rendered ineffective, and the bad guys take heart at our divisions.

Thing is, we can never know exactly what tripped up a terrorist, except in retrospect. The argument boils down to, once again, those who feel comfortable waiting for that eventuality, in order to preserve some possible privacy intrusion, and those who don't.

M. Simon said...

I wonder if this was a leak of a program that had run its course and was leaked to the NYT to discredit them, sort of payback for Plame.

It does sort of make a nice book-end for Plame. Screaming about secrets un-kept. Screaming about secrets kept.

BTW I'm pretty much a war supporter. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, all of it.

PGL said...

You took one side comment and ran this post? For the main course, see what I quoted from the oped over at Angrybear. Ann - if your readers choose only to read what you quoted and not the whole oped, they will be miselad as to what the editors said. Was this your (dishonest) intent or did you not read very deeply? If you wish to make a point - why be so misleading?

PGL said...

trajan - there was NO ovesight. OK, there was this private group HIRED BY THE WHITE HOUSE. That's not oversight.

The Drill SGT said...


1. LCDR Swift. I would posit that VNJAGVET and myself (former officer, married to a senior JAG officer) know a bit about military justice. Beyond the points already made, one should understand that JAG defense counsels report to senior JAG defense supervisors, not to the local commander or local prosecutors. So the folks that do his Efficiency report are relatively in synch with his. A LCDR (O-4) is a junior rank for a lawyer. They used to enter the service at O-3 and now do so at O-2. Swift's career had other problems long before this case.

2. I thought that the NYT was a bit disingenuous with this section.

Thirty-five years ago yesterday, in the Supreme Court ruling that stopped the government from suppressing the secret Vietnam War history called the Pentagon Papers, Justice Hugo Black wrote: "The government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people."

Perhaps Ann can shed light on the case, but as I understood the multiple opinions, the majority was against pre-publication censorship, but one could infer that a majority thought that the press could be prosecuted AFTER the fact for disclosure of secrets if the government desired. No government since has had the stones to do that.

buddy larsen said...


Beth said...

Thanks for the replies; at this point, I'm still not convinced that this story was ended the effectiveness of Swift. Buddy, we'll have to disagree on credibility. I do give lifetime public servants a lot of credence, but it's tempered by doubts about the political aims of this administration. I'm not a whit disturbed by revelations about Abu Graib, for example. Who shouldn't be ashamed by pictures of naked prisoners, hogtied, and being made to shove a banana up their ass? I'm not sure what context could excuse that. People on the right mission can do very wrong things in its pursuit, and exposing those things is an effective check.

The issue of whether the Times was wrong on this count is fairly up for debate. Any move to punish or restrict the press, though, as a result of it, I'll see as dangerous and unacceptable. It will just be one step toward justifying greater and more numerous restraints on media of all types, and we have to hold firm against that.

Beth said...

As far as this being a leak to "bring down" the administration, the question is, how? The program was legal, no one's clammoring to ITMFA (see an earlier post if you don't get that one) for it.

J. Cricket said...

Bruce Hayden sez: "Part of their problem is that the NYT is so obviously obsessed with taking down Bush and Cheney."

But the Wall Street Journal also ran the story. And not a peep of criticsm has been sent their way. Hmmm.

Your obvious obsession with criticizing the New York Times has left you blind, Brucey.

Ann Althouse said...

AJD: Try reading some of the preceding comments. The point you made has been raised and quite thoroughly laid to rest!

Bruce Hayden said...

It appears that the WSJ was given the story by the Administration AFTER the NYT had told that it was going to run it, AFTER listening to all the reasons not to. Thus, the WSJ running the story is a red herring, as there is no indication that it would have run the story on its own, if the NYT had not already announced to the govt. that it was doing so.

buddy larsen said...

Elizabeth, I don't really know where to start.

Their partisanship is just compleat, and at the same time denied.

The newsroom--not just the editorials--produces a daily dose of delegitimization of this president and every policy initiative or world event reaction the administration produces.

"News" is pretty malleable, and NYT is masterfully notorious for the downplay or the bury where something might help the pres, and equally adept the other way on anything that can be slanted against him. "All The News That Fits" (the agenda).

Specific cases? Can't even scratch the surface in a comments section.

Take a look into archives at www.timeswatch.org and see what ya think.

And, the partisanship wouldn't bother me in the least if I didn't think it's helping the enemy and prolonging the war and generally sacrificing the interests of the nation in return for partisan political advantage.

I just want 'em to back off a hair until this war winds down, so that we don't in a few years have an AQ counterpart to Gen Giap of the NVA telling us how we were defeated only by our own selves.

It's a matter of exigency and degree (see the press models of our successful wars), and other than that I agree wholeheart with all your feelings about free press and accountable government.

AJD, if you'll scroll up the comments here, you'll see a series of posts that utterly debunk your WSJ notion.

Bruce Hayden said...

The Drill SGT, et al.

The Pentagon Papers case would seem to be in favor of prosecution of the NYT here, not against it. It was a 6-3 decision against an injuction prohibiting publication, with the justification being "prior restraint". At least two of the Justices (White & Stewart) voting with the majority though stated in dicta in a concurring opinion that it would have been ok to prosecute the NYT, just not enjoin them against publication. Indeed, 18 USC 798 was mentioned in this concurrance, which specifically prohibits publication of signals intelligence information.

So, while the case does not stand for the proposition that it is ok to prosecute the press under the espionage statutes, it is very much suggested that a majority of that Court would have approved such.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sorry if my last post on the Pentagon Papers Case (New York Times v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971)) was a bit muddy. The problem is that even though a case may say something, it may not stand for that proposition. In particular, dicta, which is stuff that isn't directly relevant to the findings in a case, doesn't officially count.

In this case, the issue was the injunction. The statement by White (with Stewart) that the government could have prosecuted the NYT under the espionage laws instead was dicta because it was not directly relevant to whether the government could get that injunction.

The result is that, because it was dicta, it is not binding precedent, but rather is merely suggestive.

Bruce Hayden said...

Final note on the Pentagon Papers case - here is a link to it. At the time, it was probably close to a record on complexity, with a majority opinion, six concurrences, and three dissents.

buddy larsen said...

Daniel Ellsberg is still at it--arrested just last year for trespassing during an anti-war demonstration--at age 75 or so. One committed dude.

Sloanasaurus said...

There is more than just national security a risk regarding these leaks, but the ability of the government to cooperate with its citizens in general. If CIA leakers and the press that publishes the leaks go unpunished, what will prevent some IRS agent with an agenda from leaking private information about companies or individuals? What will prevent regulators from leaking trade secrets or politically charged information. Why should companies or individuals cooperate at all with the government knowing that federal employees can and will leak with impunity (without this kind of cooperation the government would not be able to operate effectively.

There was a Wall Street Journal story the other day regarding Barclay's bank and tax arbitrage transactions that seems to contain inside information Was information on this story leaked by an IRS agent because the agent doesn't like big banks?

Bush needs to prosecute the leakers aggressively and maybe the press as well to restore confidence in our government that it can keep a secret. Right now the conventional wisdom is that it cannot keep any secrets.

Unknown said...

Tim's probably one of those people who lives in a Trailer Park in Alabama, paranoid that terrorists are going to hunt him down there and kill him.

What a wimp.

I live in New York City and I'm not going to let some terrorists destroy my way of life. I don't need George Bush to "protect" me. The 9/11 attacks already prove that he's incompetent when it comes to making this country safe.

I'm tired of people who don't live in a terrorist prone area (i.e. 95% of this country) telling New Yorkers (who DO live in a terrorist prone area) that they know how to make us safe.

Bullshit. Go buy a freaking condo next to the Empire State building and live there before I should take you wimps seriously.

Unknown said...

Wow. Professor Bainbridge is obviously not much of a professor.

What kind of a professor BRAGS about how they refuse to read a newspaper that actually might have a diverging opinion.

How closed minded can you get.

Beth said...

Buddy, I'll take a look at timeswatch.org, but with a filter of cynicism. Anytime I see the word "liberal" used as an epithet, the credibility of its source drops sharply with me.

Beth said...

The NYT is accountable only to the Sulzberger family

They're accountable to their readers. Why is it conservatives don't trust the market?

Tim said...


Hmm, so you're pretty impressed with yourself. Well, that's fine - I've seen no shortage of folks in my life who think every last thing is about them - but eventually life catches up to them and the smart one figure it out. And I know I'm not alone in that observation. Regardless, you and people like you really aren't my concern, at all. But there is a nation the rest of us do care about far outside the extreme myopia of midtown or Soho or tribeca or Chelsea or the upper east side or the meatpacking district or whatever or wherever the likes of you and your ilk reside - and your little small minded newspaper with its dwindling subscriptions and declining equities panders to those who hate America and puts the rest of us and our nation's interest at risk. You and yours can trust them all you want - but the rest of us recognize them for who they are and what they do - so we won't. What's ironic about the whole thing is that we'll probably survive the Times' ill-disclosure of the lawful program to disrupt terrorist finances - but the Times' reputation will not. Even more ironic is that Times' actions, like the Hamdan decision, will most likely benefit Bush and the Republicans in the upcoming elections in ways those cheering both will not begin to comprehend until Thanksgiving.

You boys are too funny.

M. Simon said...

Elizabeth said...


They're accountable to their readers. Why is it conservatives don't trust the market?

12:49 AM, July 02, 2006

That is the real beauty of it Elizaberth. Times stock is off 50% (still declining during a boom) and readership has been in steady decline. And not just NYT, the LAT is doing poorly as well.

Bruce Hayden said...


I am not quite sure what you mean by that the NYT was responsible to its readers. Are you suggesting that this is a greater good than the American people? That the NYT readership is somehow representative of the American People?

I am also not quite sure how you are suggesting that market forces should be and are interacting with this paper's decision to publish, in the face of repeated insistances by the Administration, the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, etc.

Part of the problem with bringing in the market here is that the NYT is not doing that well right now, either in terms of market or in terms of stock price. The Sulzberger family has control of the paper, regardless of how well it does as a business, in terms of circulation, etc., by owning all of the voting shares of stock.

I think that you also have to take into account the demographics of the paper's circulation here. My understanding is that about half is local (NYC), and the rest is national. But there is no indication that at least the national portion of this circulation is the least bit representative of the population as a whole. And, so, there is no indication that they would abandon the Gray Lady if she were publishing the specifications to our nuclear arsonel. Rather, there is some indication that they might buy a bunch of guest subscriptions for their friends.

I guess then, I am asking you to be a bit more specific, and point out to us, or at least to me, how you think that the market should or is policing the NYT's actions here.

buddy larsen said...

At any rate, "trusting the market" as a concept is pretty much limited to judging the efficiency of the exchange of goods and services. The concept in itself has no moral component. If the topic here is the NYTimes' citizenship, would the terms of debate change per its subscription numbers?

KCFleming said...

It's becoming clearer to me that there is no secret about the war that the NY Times might reveal which would not be acceptable to its defenders. If one opposes the war, as the NY Times surely does, there is literally nothing it can do to offend the like-minded, save for supporting the administration.

Any honest reading of this most recent NY Times story must admit that at least it might, not certainly but might result in making the work of terrorists against the US and other nations easier. Any other reading is dishonest, blindly partisan, or lacks imagination.

I don't have time for the market to decide whether it likes when the NY Times acts against the country's interests. (Nor does anyone) It's sales receipts are simply immaterial to the problem at hand.

We must decide we're at war, or we are not. And act accordingly. Getting people killed just to prove your moral superiority is asinine and evil.

PGL said...

Dick - I did not know KPMG was auditing the accounting. Good. But KPMG is not in the same business as our Courts or our Congress in terms of monitoring whether our civil liberties are being properly protected. I thought the latter was the point.

KCFleming said...

Re: "But KPMG is not in the same business as our Courts or our Congress in terms of monitoring whether our civil liberties are being properly protected."

It appears the NY Times can't do it, either. Unless you think making it easier for terrorists to elude us somehow protective of civil liberties. I know I have a problem accepting that notion.

I repeat a prior question: Who do these people think they are?

buddy larsen said...

1) Terrorists have and will exploit our civil liberties against us.

2) Either we surrender some degree of civil liberty or we cede that exploitation.

3) We have to decide either/or, and if the former, then where are the margins.

*) Terror victims, past and future, lose 100% of their civil liberties.

**) Whatever we surrender, can either be retrieved at the ballot box, or not, depending on what is surrendered and to whom.

***) If we want to trade, say, 100% purity of full and maximum readings of civil liberty for, say, AQ control of OPEC, then we should understand the consequences likely to flow from the latter, by assigning probabilities ranging from nothing to world war on the WWII scale, over global resources that are currently allocated by open and transparent markets.

Unknown said...

What do you mean, PGL, by the notion of having the courts monitor this program? I'm sure the lawyers here can answer this more fully, but in the real practice of law, subpoenas are issued pro forma by a clerk. The person served with one has the right to try to quash the subpoena if he thinks it's not lawful. Judges never see a majority of subpoenas issued until the time of the hearing.

Do you really think that judges should be sitting around "monitoring" every transaction in SWIFT to make sure no one sees what amounts to the information contained in a tax return? It would take thousands of them!

I agree with Bruce and others who remind us this is not an issue of popularity but of ethics for the NYT to grapple with.

buddy larsen said...

Yes, re "trailer in Alabama" I'd say that anyone so offended by offensive stereotyping ought not offensively stereotype.

Tim said...

I'd rather live a run down trailer park with patriots than in an Upper East Side penthouse building populated by preening moral idiots completely consumed by self-vanity.

happyfeet said...


buddy larsen said...

tim, me too.
kermit, ?

Beth said...

My comment on market forces was intended to point to irony; conservatives only mention the "moral" aspect lacking in the market when the outcomes of free enterprise conflict with conservative goals. Otherwise, it's Katie Bar the Door, and conservatives routinely condemn liberals for intervening in the market with oversights and restrictions.

Buddy, your argument is spelled out beautifully. We diverge on premise 2: I would rather cede some exploitations than change who we are, and what we value. Die on your feet, or live on your knees! In fact, I believe that is a false dilemma, and that we will prevail, while still protecting the rule of law, and of civil liberty. We have these liberties because our founders were convinced that such a system was superior, and naturally sound. When we scramble to cede those liberties in response to threat, we reject those beliefs. I won't support that.

That still leaves the debate over how to view this act by the Times. I think there are sound criticisms of their decision to publish, but none rise to the level of prosecuting the editors, or trying to restrict that particular paper or any other form of press, including the internet.

happyfeet said...

1,142,464 - that's the number of people who have a voice in this debate that can immediately penetrate the rationalizations of these editors and the unquestioning support they are receiving from their increasingly homogeneous peers. 1,142,464 people have subscriptions to cancel or can otherwise forgo purchasing the NYT.

It's really that simple to me, not least because I am a very simple frog. Reading Ann's post, I find her decision to continue her support of the NYT kind of hard to square with any assignation of gravity to Keller's decision to knee-cap a successful anti-terrorist program.

Does the responsibility for this rest primarily with Keller? My sense of the NYT's coverage of this war has me suspecting that the editor of the NYT is reflecting the values of the institution, not shaping them...

Wade Garrett said...

As a New Yorker, I would ask you to please refrain from generalizing about New York City when you are attacking the New York Times. Fox News is also based in New York City, and its executives could also be described as Upper East Side penthouse-dwelling moral idiots completely consumed by self-vanity. Except of course for those who are Westchester County-dwelling moral idiots completely consumed by self-vanity.

Wade Garrett said...

Its worth reminding people that there is a difference between something that is classified and something that is secret. Valerie Plame's identity was classified, but it was not a secret. If I didn't know this already, I would have learned it when the administration and its allies responded along the lines of "we didn't know it was classified, but we assumed it wasn't because everybody in Washington knew who she was."

Similarly, these programs. Anybody who's ready a supermarket-checkout-line paperback knows that the government -- in fact most governments -- have these programs in place. I remember not too long ago one of the major newspapers came under attack for publishing the fact that the government tracked terrorists via their cellular phones. If the terrorists didn't already suspect that, then they are so stupid that there is no excuse for them to ever successfully attack us again.

Same goes for banking, which is why terrorists, drug dealers, arms dealers, and so forth have for decades used a combination of cash and Swiss bank accounts to finance their dealings. I highly, highly doubt that many terrorists were caught because we caught them using the ATM at the neighborhood HSBC branch.

happyfeet said...

The only generalization you can make about New York is that the little targets all yous guys had on your foreheads are a little bigger than they were a week ago. And you pay lots of taxes for the privilege.

buddy larsen said...

Elizabeth, if we were faced with a choice between the Bill of Rights and martial law, at this moment in time I'd agree with you.

But if a few city-busting nukes (or some like thing) went off around the country, plenty of us would gladly cede the war-fighters on our side every tool they could possibly want. Anything, just please stop the terrorists.

And that's the core beef with the attitude exemplified by the NYTimes--it is unnecessarily playing with fire.

NYTimes has no idea whether its leakage is directly helping the terrorists or not (Keller was just on tv--an unusual action--saying as much by not saying the opposite). No one can be sure, and to say you are sure--as Terry nearly does--is just rhetoric and bravado.

It is bad enough, given the paltry vs grave stakes on either side of the question, that they may be helping the enemy.

And outside the arena of direct help, is that even the most rudimentary understanding of human nature can lead to no other conclusion than that such an influential institution so frivolously, voluminously, and freely leaking the administration's war-fighting secrets, must hearten and give hope (AKA "aid & comfort") to the proven and proven-deadly enemies of the nation.

Unknown said...


That's exactly right. Keller's poor judgment in this instance beggars belief.

While I think he overplays the depth of his concerns--civil liberties, Congressional oversight, etc.--the Times had other immdeiate remedies, short of running the story.

For example, let's pursue the Congressional oversight concern. Are you telling me that an organization with the Time's connections and clout could not have run that to ground before publishing. Had they clear evidence that the Administration was stonewalling Congress then they not only have a great story, they have a great rationale for running it.

buddy larsen said...

Old dad, exactly. What he does, in effect, is sneak-push you into the shark pool, and as you splash around among the sharks looking for a way out, he explains from poolside that because someday you might possibly have cause to swim there, and because he's certain that you might not get eaten anyway, and because it's good for the country that it sells his newspapers, "why not let's you gamble?"

Unknown said...

It's good to debate how far the encroachments on civil rights because of wartime necessity should go. But I must say, the "rule of law" does NOT solve the problem of terrorism.

I think that's the underlying assumption, that if we can somehow apply this exquisite standard of legality to every problem then, poof, it will go away. It assumes partly that our imagined abuse of rights or our racism is the root cause of terrorism.

Again, those who believe that will never be dissuaded, but I prefer to rely on the military and (even secret) government actions as well First the NYT was for SWIFT, now they're against it--it's a political agenda clothed in moralisms.

Beth said...

For example, let's pursue the Congressional oversight concern. Are you telling me that an organization with the Time's connections and clout could not have run that to ground before publishing.

Old Dad, Sen. Feinstein, who's on the Intelligence Committee, said today in an interview with George Stephanopolis that Congress was not briefed on Swift until the Times had informed the administration that it would be running the story.

Beth said...

I think that's the underlying assumption, that if we can somehow apply this exquisite standard of legality to every problem then, poof, it will go away.

Pat, no, that's not my assumption. Sorry to tear down your strawman. My assumption is that we maintain our adherance to law, and to our values, because they are good and right, and give us the moral highground in this fight against Islamist values, which are antithetical to our own. There's no magical "poof," but the further we allow our government to act outside our laws, then the "poof" you hear will be our identity, disappearing.

Unknown said...


"Old Dad, Sen. Feinstein, who's on the Intelligence Committee, said today in an interview with George Stephanopolis that Congress was not briefed on Swift until the Times had informed the administration that it would be running the story."

Doesn't this seem odd given the Times' defense that hundreds if not thousands allegedly knew of the SWIFT program? And if she did not know, why not?

If the Times was legitmately concerned about Congressional oversight, why did they not first go to Feinstien or another Intelligence Committee member with the "scoop" that the Bushies were once again dodging Congressional over sight?

And if, in fact, that was the case, why did't the Times discern and report that fact as part of the story?

You think Di Fi would not have been interested?

This one stinks.

Unknown said...

We already have the moral high ground, Elizabeth, and we cannot sacrifice it by utilizing covert activities in a war. We are freer today than ever, despite living through former eras when presidents suspended habeas corpus or shot German saboteurs after they landed. When people start emigrating to Saudi Arabia rather than the US, I'll worry about losing hearts and minds.

I'm just thankful the majority of the American people feel as the majority here feel--the NYT was going after Bush despite the cost-- and legal, successful clandestine operations present no dangers to our civil liberties.

Unknown said...

Sorry Dick - No person in their right mind actually considers Queens to be part of New York City - except by the most meager of definitions.

Keep dreaming.

Unknown said...

This administration has fired about 50 Arabic translators, simply because they were gay.

Some fools might actually believe that Bush is trying to protect this country.

I'm not one of them. He has launched a perpetual war so that he can help elect nutcase, brainwashed, Christian politicians.

Jennifer said...

DTL - Please stop with that. The Army fired the Arabic translators due to a law put into place under the Clinton administration.

You have to be pretty naive to believe the administration is involved with military discharges all the way down to PFCs.

Unknown said...

I should add that the perpetual war has been an absolutely brilliant political tactic.

It's worked wonders and will probably work for another two election cycles before Americans tire of a war that has absolutely zero to do with Osama bin Laden.

Enough time to get the Supreme Court filled with right-wingers.

And all these people bragging about "freedom". Funny - the same people who are calling for the execution of the editor of the New York Times keeping talking up how "free" this country is. They can't even understand the irony.

I wonder if these people realize that there are a good dozen countries on this planet that are more "free" than this one. I'd rather compare the United States countries like New Zealand and set our sights high, than to some medieval country like Saudi Arabia.

Unknown said...


And Bush has tried to get this law changed? Has he asked for an exception for Arabic Translators?

No - he hasn't. And five and half years into his Presidency - it's perfectly reasonable to BLAME him. If he actually cared about intelligence, he'd call for the repeal of this law.

But he doesn't care. He only cares about pleasing his Christian base.

He's a divider, not a uniter. He's already made it quite clear that he doesn't represent gay people. He has declared war on us. Thank God he's not MY president. I don't want anything to do with him.

Jennifer said...

Fine, the administration hasn't tried to repeal the law. But, it's absolutely inaccurate to say This administration has fired about 50 Arabic translators, simply because they were gay. Yet you say it quite often.

Unknown said...

Then what would you say Jennifer? That they were fired because they were faggots????

Is that what they teach you to call us in the military?

Unknown said...

Oh sorry - I realize that the military doesn't advocate calling gay people names.

They just advocate killing them instead:


Unknown said...

And I'm tired of people propagating the LIE that Clinton pushed for this law.

Anyone with a proper recollection of history knows that Clinton advocated allowing gays to serve in the military. He pushed for it on his very first day in office.

Republicans and the military threatened to bring down his Presidency over this issue and Clinton was pressured to sign don't ask, don't tell, as an interim step. A huge improvement over the prior policy. He shouldn't have signed it of course, but all gay people know that Clinton was advocating on the gay-rights side of the issue.

And don't ask, don't tell is violated daily. The military fires people who "never tell" on a daily basis. They scour online sites like Myspace to find out if soldiers are gay. They spot a soldier holding hands off base, and they fire him.

And of course, we all know that the military "asks" all the time if people are gay. In other words, the military is breaking the law. Shocker.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim said...

The Army (or other services) don't fire servicemembers.

And New Zealand sounds like a fine idea; the sooner the better, methinks.

Jennifer said...

And, remind me again how your agenda is related to the NYT decision to publish on SWIFT?

Unknown said...

I have friends who were in the military. They said that some of the branches are more tolerant of gay people (the Navy) while others are downright beliggerant (the Marines and the Air Force).

So yes - I do think some of this violence is sanctioned from the top.

And yes - Bush is the Commander in Chief - so he did fire them.

And if you're in the military, you're a willing partner in this bigotry.

Jennifer said...

Tim - I'm beginning to lose sight of why I thought actual facts might be relevant in this discussion.

Unknown said...


I prefer New York. I'm glad you made it clear in your contempt for this city that you will never visit here. Please keep your promise and stay away. We don't want or like "your ilk" in this town.

But if I had to pick New Zealand or some other redneck state, like say, oh - North Carolina - I'd pick New Zealand any day of the week.

Jennifer said...

I'm not in the military.

Beth said...

The leaders of the committee involved were the ones briefed. We don't know who they were and we were not told who.

Dick, it's an intelligence operation, so that's the committee that should be briefed. And why don't we know who? I see no reason to be so accepting. I'd like very much to know that the administration briefs the appropriate people in Congress on its covert activities. That's the checks and balances thing we value.

Your question assumes that the only authority we can look to is a "trust us" from the administration. If I heard more from the members of Congress who were briefed on Swift, I'd have more faith that I was getting enough information to know what damage this story might have caused. You give much more credibility to the adminstration than I do. I have years of good reasons not to.

Unknown said...

Yup - Jennifer. Facts like "there are WMD's in Iraq".

Exactly what are you fighting for????

If you think it's my "freedom", you've been brainwashed.

Maybe you should go find Osama - that's the real bad guy. Not the fanatics in Iraq, who are content to kill themselves in a civil war. I say let them.

Jennifer said...

Who's a bigot?

North Carolina may or may not be a "redneck" state - I haven't been here long enough to tell yet.

Jennifer said...

I am not in the military. Do you read English?

Unknown said...

You're not in the miliary? You should update your blogger page then which lists "military" as your occupation.

Unknown said...

North Carolina is probably perfectly nice. But as someone who appreciates freedom, I'd rather live in New Zealand.

Jennifer said...

No, Wife and Mommy are listed as my occupation. Try again with that reading thing.

Unknown said...

Sorry - I meant your "industry" is military. Either way - it's misleading.

Jennifer said...

My husband is in the military. I am not. Blogger doesn't give you infinite choices.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

OK Jennifer - Well tell your husband to find Osama, and not be distracted by that diversion in Iraq.

Then I'd actually feel a little safer.

The Drill SGT said...

Elizabeth, It's run out of Treasury. I suspect that the operation is run by FINCEN or another similar outfit. FINCEN gets it's oversight from the House and Senate Banking committees. see their testimony:


Beth said...

I hope no one feels led to publish that the President lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and can often actually be seen on the grounds. I hear he also has a country home outside of Crawford, Texas.

But I agree that you should speak up about this housing story; it should be easy to dust off the letter of outrage you sent when the Times published as detailed a story about the Clinton's Chappaqua home in 2003.

Beth said...

drill sgt., I have only given a cursory look, but the more recent speeches and testimonies listed don't seem to cover the Swift program. And it still seems to me that the operation is about gathering intelligence, and thus should be under the Intelligence committee as well.

Jennifer said...

You know, DTL, you shoot yourself in the foot often. I personally think Don't Ask/Don't Tell is a stupid law. Gays serve proudly in the military - at least the ones I've known certainly do - and I see no rational reason they shouldn't be allowed to do so and do so openly.

Yet you attack me like I'm burning crosses on your doorstep.

My initial correction of your statement is wholly accurate.

Unknown said...

Elizabeth - They should just execute the editor of the New York Times.

It would seal Bush's fate as the worst President ever. Would suck for Keller though.

Do you think Bush has the guts to do it? His constituency is demanding it.

Jennifer said...

DTL, when my husband has the opportunity to select his missions, I'm certain he'll take that into consideration.

Unknown said...

Any gay person in the military is a traitor to the gay movement.

If they are gay - they should come out of the closet. Let the military fire them. It's the honorable thing for a gay person to do.

And Jennifer - I'm not too fond of straight people anymore if you haven't noticed. Bush has divided this country - and I'm happy to play my part. Divisiveness all the way man.

The Drill SGT said...


I didn't see anything about SWIFT there, nor did I expect to find anything. My point was that their habitual oversight appears to be the banking committee.

Jennifer said...

Perhaps a traitor to the gay movement but true to their own dream and to their country. No less honorable.

Divide and conquer, as they say.

Palladian said...

Downtownlad, take a deep breath, unbunch your lace panties, and wash your meds down with a Cosmopolitan. You're simply embarrassing yourself, and gay people (left or right) everywhere. You're fast becoming a worse troll than the regular troll here in the comments; unlike him, people might actually think that what you say is serious and reflects some sort of majority opinion.

Take your silly, faux-sophisticated bigotry and crawl back to whatever little town you're actually from and face whatever leftover adolescent issues motivate to post your hysterical little diatribes. I, for one, am tired of your offensive garbage.

Beth said...

highcotton, those are great examples. I'll counter with the observation that both FDR and Churchill had detractors and were checked in some of their moves for power. FDR's court-packing gambit comes to mind.

The news is indeed skewed, from many angles. But so is the information coming out of the government. I for one will never forget Colin Powell mortaging his lifetime of service and integrity in his UN appearance.

I simply believe we have to be more circumspect and realize that it's not just the dirty bomb we have to worry about, but what the specter of the dirty bomb leads us to accept, without accountability, from our leadership.

Unknown said...

Oh Palladian. If you don't like to hear what I have to say, then for the 100th time, please ignore me. I ignore you except when you attack me directly.

If I'm annoyed with this President, then I'll act annoyed with this President.

Just because you're gay, you can't tell me how to think. And your resort to anti-gay insults, rather than debating the facts, is telling.

Unknown said...

And Palladian - to clear things up - I don't have HIV. But if I did, I don't think it would be an appropriate subject for attacking someone's credibility.

Unknown said...

So I just visited your web page Palladian.

An artist I thought. Oh cool - I could come back with a nice insult about your work.

But it's actually pretty good!

Oh well.... I'll have to think up another line of attack.

Randy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Internet Rodin - Palladian asked me to "wash down my meds".

If that doesn't imply I have HIV, then can you please explain what he meant?

Randy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Possibly that's what he mean internet ronin. But I've never heard the term "meds" used in that sense. Especially in the context of what he was saying.

But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not offended by what you said about me. People don't have to like me. And it's healthy for people to speak their mind.

I believe in more speech, not less.

I don't speak for the gay community. I speak for myself. I am very perturbed by this administration - when it comes to their unfair attacks on the press.

Of course Bush has the right to attack the New York Times. But I'm going to use my freedom of speech to attack him back.

Palladian said...

No, I did not mean HIV meds. I was thinking more along the lines of Thorazine, since you act like a complete, raving psychopath sometimes.

And I'm glad your first impulse is to go to my personal site, looking for ways to insult me- that's fair, since I don't try to hide my identity. If I wanted to insult you on a more personal level, I don't have that option. But you wouldn't say the insulting, bigoted things that you do if you weren't anonymous, would you?

Unknown said...

Oh Palladian - It was a back handed compliment about your artwork. Learn how to take it gracefully.

I'll take your word on the meds term then.

But I'm not a raving psychopath. I'm calm and deliberate in my madness. ;)

Unknown said...

And I'm just as opinionated in real life. And yes I drive my friends crazy when I talk politics.

The funny thing, my friends all think I am a raving right-wing nutjob, because I am so libertarian in my views.

Randy said...

DTL: I see that Palladian has explained and you have accepted his explanation.

My comment comes down after I post this one because it is, IMO, inappropriate for this site. Ann is a gracious host and strives for civil discussions of various topics. My comment is far from civil and very personal. Absolutely nothing is gained when people start "yelling" at each other on-line or in person.

Unknown said...

Well if it comes across as me yelling at them, that is not the intention.

Tone is very difficult to pick up in a comment.

buddy larsen said...

Wishing you health and a long and good life, Internet Ronin--

Randy said...

Thank you, Buddy, for the kind words (and the reminder that I left that comment behind)!

Unknown said...

As a final note, I couldn't resist the NYT article today where the late Katherine Graham recounted the story of how she believed media revelations led to the deaths of the 241 Marines in Lebanon. Why not print it.

It's one thing for a president to tell a family their son or daughter died in war; it's quite another for a newspaper to bear the burden of these deaths personally. Printing the story accomplished nothing even remotely equal to the value of those lives.

Stephen said...

I'm sorry to call out one guy, but...

downtown, where to start?

“Thank goodness the New York Times printed this. I'm very interested when the government is breaking the law, even if it is for "good" reasons. If you don't want to trust the New York Times, then don't read it. I'm glad I have that information at my fingertips now though.”

“Under what authority does the government have the permission to mine the SWIFT Database? Under what law?”

Name one scholar, lawyer, or judge who has said this is illegal. (I’m serious, for all I know there might be one--for every one, though, I bet I can name twenty who say otherwise)

Then keep in mind John Murtha and the lead Dems who knew about this encouraged the NYT not to publish it.

“I'm a hell of a lot more scared of the government invading my privacy rights than I am of some terrorists trying to kill me (which IS a real threat - but it is quite small).”

You’re more worried about invasions of privacy than people who explicitly state the correct reaction to learning someone is gay is to crack their skull with a big rock . . . because the threat is small . . . because it’s not like they’ve ever tried to do anything like that.

“I realize that most Americans don't give a hoot about privacy, liberty, and freedom”

Relative to who? We’ve had to ship prisoners to European countries, albeit usually Eastern, to get information from terrorists-wouldn’t that say something about their privacy laws in comparison to ours? Don’t you find it odd we have to rely on the intelligence services of these other countries if we use privacy statutes as toilet paper?

“All in all, while I like this country, there are some things wrong with it. And I don't think that our country is morally superior to all others. There are lots of decent countries in this world, some of which are better than this country.”

“I wonder if these people realize that there are a good dozen countries on this planet that are more "free" than this one. I'd rather compare the United States countries like New Zealand and set our sights high, than to some medieval country like Saudi Arabia.”

Here, let me give an equivalent example of this -

I wonder if people realize that there are a good dozen people on this planet who are better than me.

All in all, while I like myself, there are some things wrong with me. I don't think that I am morally superior to all others. There are lots of decent people in this world, some of which are better than me.

If you don’t think I’m being humble when I make a statement like that, you should understand why I find it hard to believe you can make a statement like it and not consider yourself patriotic. On the other side of the Atlantic, I promise you this would brand you as a nationalist.

“David implies that gay people should support Bush, because he's not knocking walls down on us. Again - that's insulting to the intelligence of gay people, insisting that we tolerate crap, because it could be worse. Give me a break."

Lincoln was probably a racist by modern standards and the North circa 1860 was segregated. In that situation, do you think that African Americans should have supported him and his war against the South or is an argument like that insulting to black people?

“They don't care that our government tortures people”

Cite (both parts)?

“If you really wanted to protect Americans from terrorism, we would stop the financial donations to religious institutions from abroad. We would deport every Muslim in this country, who is not a citizen, who holds extremist views.”

Is this a sarcastic statement or are you seriously advocating that. I honestly can’t tell. If you are, how can you possibly call Bush a bigot for his treatment of gay people and then advocate this?

“I live in New York City and I'm not going to let some terrorists destroy my way of life. I don't need George Bush to "protect" me. The 9/11 attacks already prove that he's incompetent when it comes to making this country safe.”

I’m not even going to argue here, I just want to ask for a citation. At the same time, what steps should he have taken that would have been less of an invasion of privacy than the Swift program?

“I should add that the perpetual war has been an absolutely brilliant political tactic.”

Bush’s poll numbers, google - combine the two.

buddy larsen said...

Buck, starting with the "profound lack of interest" and working backwards thru your misrepresentations re illegal wiretapping, gov't trumpeting, and controlling information, I'd say your disdainful remark about partizan hacks applies as much to you as anyone else.

I know I'm wasting time saying so, since you already know exactly what you're doing, but the jumping back and forth from specific to general, subtracting critical details, adding false premises, making assertions, and so forth, will not hide the facts of the case.

Such argumentation can only highlight the basic credibility issue.

buddy larsen said...

If you're right that we have a "traitor in the White House" then you and Bill Keller must--rather than pussyfoot around trying to sneak the effect de facto--immediately demand Al Qaeda representation in the Cabinet and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Act now, your country needs you.

Beth said...

dick, are you still really bothered by the Times travel story? As it turns out, Rumsfeld approved the pictures, the information in the story had all appeared previously in other news outlets, including Fox News, and the Secret Service has said that nothing in the story has compromised safety. Feel better? If so, you're a good deal smarter than perpetual asshats Michelle Malkin and David Horowitz (he was a bloviating idiot on the left, he's still a bloviating idiot on the right).

Buddy, if there's a "traitor" in the White House, how on earth would having an Al Queda rep in there solve the problem? Your irony zooms right over my head, unless you're implying that by wanting accountability of our elected officials, we really, secretly want Osama bin Laden. If so, we're the only ones. A year ago, Bush quietly closed the CIA unit that has been chasing the bastard for the past 10 years (yes, even Clinton figured out he's an evildoer and should be stopped).

buddy larsen said...

Beth, I was trying to make the point--agains, for the 39,000th time, that either we're in a war or we're not, and if we are, then either we have a part of the government charged with the duty of fighting it or not, and if we're at war and the executive branch is to fight it, then either it needs the tools with which to do so, or it doesn't, but if it does, then someone has to judge what those tools are, or else the enemy will moot the question soon enough.

AQ is either our enemy, or the White House traitor is, which would mean that AQ is our ally, since we know where where it stands, and the WH is betraying us.

I know, goofy Manichaenism, but no more so than positing that keeping (or TRYING to keep) our war-fighting plans secret from the enemy is ipso-facto totalitarian.

This is getting rather circular and silly, don't you think, Beth--acting as if there's no common-sense available to us? No reasonable way to use our minds to weigh the stakes, and get a hold on the weight of the loss here, for the gain there, and vice-versa? Apply a rough cost/benefit ratio, or risk/reward ratio to what the gov't is doing, and to what the NYTimes is doing?

Sorry, I don't mean to rant. But really. Who should get the benefit of the doubt? The side which can be recoverably wrong, or the side which can't?

Anyhoo, Happy 4th, Miss Beth! :)

Unknown said...

Patterico has a good post on the several AQ money men that have been caught by SWIFT, which connected their dots, as they say. Too rushed to link it, but...

Happy 4th, all. May your flags wave, your burgers sizzle, and your fireworks delight.

Beth said...

Dick, the cameras are visible, just like at the bank. Bank robbers, and bank customers, can see the cameras. The source? Any news outlet. This story has been reported to death.

As for Malkin and Horowitz, of course they're bloviating. They're not simply "telling the truth." They're whipping up outrage over things that just aren't outrageous. Truth isn't part of their arsenal, certainly not an essential part. They're spinmeisters, not truth tellers.

Beth said...

Buddy, I'm all in favor of the government having the tools it needs to fight the war. When it decides it needs to spy on its own citizens, and what the heck, let's skip the warrents and the oversight from the other branches of government, then I want to know about it. Our media has a long history of not publishing when they have secrets that can compromise lives. Nick Kristof put it well today: the only thing worse than an out of control press is a controlled press. Can't we also use our common sense to observe when this, or any administration, uses the press as a whipping boy to shape public opinion and garner higher approval rates? Being at war is not carte blanche for an unchecked, unbalanced executive.

I had a wonderful 4th, thanks! I hope yours was great, too. The shuttle went up safely and that made it all the better (gotta root for the folks at Michoud, you know?)

Beth said...

Here you go, Dick:

NYT Travel story approved by Rumsfeld, SS says it’s no threat.

Now maybe this blogger is lying, but if so, that's what the great self-correcting blogosphere is all about. Otherwise, the facts (that truth Malkin and Horowitz don't give a hoot about if it conflicts with their political agendas) seem to be that Rumsfeld approved the picture, and that the Secret Service feel there's nothing to this hoopla. But what would they know as compared to a couple of partisan gadflies?

buddy larsen said...

Miss Beth, take a look @ this Powerline, and also--importantly--follow the two imbedded links, to Villainous and Patterico (as Patca suggested). The three short reports should clarify for you that your erudite & admirable defense of principle has little to do with this specific case--except in the breach.

Beth said...

Buddy, I followed through from Powerline to the two links, and past them to their linked sources. I'll agree that the "it's a secret, no we're wrong, everyone knew" is a lousy defense, as we learned from the administration's response to the Plame affair. If the Times can defend this particular story, it needs to do so on the merits of why they chose to report it.

The paterico story linked to an American Spectator story that used not a single named source from Treasury, so the jury's out on its credibility. In the end, the unnamed sources acknowledge that "only time will tell" if the story has had an effect, so it's a bit premature to trumpet, as many have, about specific damages done.

It's funny how links from a well-known blog can descend in style and credibility as you run from one to another; the villianous site is fairly snarky, but no match for the "hatemongers" blog they link to, which was nearly unreadable, it's so precious. I appreciate your point, and my point isn't to critique your sources. This is just a factor of the "blogosphere," in that personality becomes such a part of the conveyance of ideas and information, that eventually style conflicts with substance.