All the news that gives you fits

Is ‘The Times’ trying to undermine war effort?
No; it just looks like it

Editorial Page Editor
LAST WEEK our editorial board discussed the controversy surrounding The New York Timeslatest disclosure of secret U.S. intelligence operations.
    (“Controversy” may be too mild a word. “Treason” is bandied about with regularity, and hanging has been mentioned.)
    A colleague said that people who think this is about the Times being anti-Bush or anti-American don’t understand the role of the media: “There’s always been that tension.”
    No, I said. Just because it’s been there our whole careers doesn’t mean that it was always thus. And just because readers don’t like a newspaper’s attitude toward the government doesn’t mean that they don’t understand it. They just don’t like it.
    They would prefer to see the Times cover war the way it did 60 years ago. On June 7, 1944, its lead story began as follows:

    “The German Atlantic Wall has been breached.
    “Thousands of American, Canadian and British soldiers, under cover of the greatest air and sea bombardment of history, have broken through the ‘impregnable’ perimeter of Germany’s ‘European fortress’ in the first phase of the invasion and liberation of the Continent.”

    Two days earlier, it had reported that Americans had “captured Rome tonight, liberating for the first time a German-enslaved European capital….” On Dec. 9, 1941, it had related that the president had “denounced Japanese aggression in ringing tones.”
    Note all those value-loaded words. You’ll also find that Germans are “Nazis” or “the foe.” Allied nations are referred to as “us,” rather than in the third person.
    Today, terrorists are “insurgents,” and the only “ringing tones” most journalists hear are the ones they program into their mobile phones. Taking sides is seen as not only unprofessional, but unethical.
    In some ways, this is healthy. In others, it is excessive. If D-Day occurred today, we would hear that morning on television how hopeless the situation appeared on Omaha Beach. This would be repeated, sliced, diced, analyzed and reacted to for hours before we learned that a few Americans had climbed the cliff and established a tentative foothold.
    We would soon learn how completely our bombers had failed in their critical mission of cratering the German defenses, leading to hundreds of American deaths at Omaha. We’d know that intelligence had been so lame that no one had anticipated how hard it would be to attack through Norman hedgerows, and that American paratroopers had been dropped everywhere except where they were supposed to be, often without weapons or ammunition.
    All of which would be true. And demoralizing.
    So am I saying The New York Times and other media (including the defunct Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, which took pride in its critical investigations of the Iraq war) are trying to undermine our war effort?
    No. It just looks like it.
    This can put the media at odds with more traditional folks who would like to see a little buy-in on the part of the Fourth Estate when American lives are on the line.
    I don’t believe the Times editors had malicious motives. But I do think they went too far in their watchdog role when they revealed details of how we track financial transactions in the pursuit of terrorists.
    When did this big shift in journalistic attitudes occur? After Watergate. I recently saw “All the President’s Men” for the first time in three decades. When I got to the scenes in which several of The Washington Post’s editors say they think the paper is going overboard, that there’s no way the White House would be involved in such doings, I had to pause the DVD to explain to my kids how different things were then. They’ve grown up in a world in which such charges are routinely leveled, and immediately believed. The idea that the opposition will stoop to anything is the starting point of political discourse today.
    Journalists are products of their times as much now as in the past. Today, people who hold high security clearances are prone to tell tales with impunity, and then what does an editor do (especially when you know that if you don’t run it, some blog will)?
    Which is more arrogant in an editor: Telling the readers everything you know, or deciding you won’t tell them certain things? Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and Los Angeles Times Editor Dean Baquet recently co-wrote a column in which they disclosed that “each of us, in the past few years, has had the experience of withholding or delaying articles when the administration convinced us that the risk of publication outweighed the benefits.”
    Oh, yeah? Well who are you to decide that I don’t need to know something?
    Well, they’re the editors, which is probably a more satisfactory answer to me than to you. Under our Constitution, no one but an editor can decide what a newspaper prints or doesn’t print. It’s kind of like democracy — as messy as it is, I wouldn’t want to live under any other kind of system. But with such sweeping rights come a huge responsibility. The editors said they understood that:
    “We understand that honorable people may disagree with any of these choices — to publish or not to publish. But making those decisions is the responsibility that falls to editors, a corollary to the great gift of our independence. It is not a responsibility we take lightly. And it is not one we can surrender to the government.”
    I agree. In our free society, editors must make those decisions. But there is little doubt that in the country in which I have worked as a journalist, editors make very different decisions — based on very different criteria — from those made by editors in the country my parents grew up in.
    The question is, are we better off now? Sometimes I doubt it.

50 thoughts on “All the news that gives you fits

  1. Dave

    Brad, The NY Times isn’t demonstrating some form of enlightened interest to inform the public. Led by Bush hater Sulzberger, this paper is determined to damage his presidency at any cost, including increased deaths of American soldiers or US citizens. I strongly believe that if the Times learned where Bin Laden was living, they would publish it before ever informing the military beforehand, as this would completely embarrass the admin. and military while giving OBL another free pass. If it resulted in further deaths on our side, what do they care? They don’t. Since I believe in the free marketplace, the good news is this corporation is hurting financially and subscription wise. In due time, it will fail or the board will remove the traitors running it. Either way works for me.

  2. bud

    I’ve asked before but I’ll ask again anyway, why do conservatives hate America? Dave’s continued rants against the free press drives that point home loud and clear. Nowhere does Dave give any evidence whatsover that the NYT would publish information that would allow OBL “another free pass”. Yet the claim is made nonetheless. It’s Bush that’s failed to get OBL. It’s Bush that sent troops (Unnecessarily) into harms way and caused over 2500 deaths in Iraq. It’s someone in the Bush administration that outed CIA agent Valarie Plame. It’s Bush that’s torturing POWs in violation of the Geneva Convention and American principals. It’s Bush that … Well I could go on. But the constant ranting of conservatives is getting old.
    The real danger from this ongoing phoney war against terrorists is the real threats that are ignored. In three editorial in today’s (7-9-06) State paper there was continued evidence to support this.
    (1) Leonard Pitts column described the indifference of the MSM to the ongoing (and growing) murder epidemic in this country. A young black girl was murdered in Miami and none of the major papers made any mention of this.
    (2) Another column by Alan Richard focused on the high dropout rate in South Carolina. This is yet another example of the failed policies of the conservative controlled government in this state.
    (3) And finally, conservative columnist George Will discussed the importance of the interstate highway system in the U.S. Although he found a few words to take a cheap shot at Al Gore, he failed to mention the financial problems we face as a nation in maintaining the system.
    All three of these problems have only gotten worse under the conservative leadership in Washington and Columbia. I say it’s time to elect real leaders that focus on real problems instead of ranting and raving against the free press and scaring people with stories about the bogeyman. As Leonard Pitts noted, there were 14,121 Americans murdered in 2004 in the USA. (Preliminary figures show this went up in 2005). That is FOUR times the number who died on 9-11.
    I say its time we spent more resourses on law enforcement and less fighting a make-believe war against an imaginary enemy thousands of miles away. I ask again, why do conservatives hate America.

  3. mark g

    These are dangerous times, made even more dangerous by the ineptitude of Bush foreign policy. For that very reason, we need to know more about how our government operates, not less.
    When it comes to deciding how much the public should know about the war on terror, I trust the NY Times and WSJ reporters more than I trust the Bush administration.
    The Bush administration has just been too secretive, and pushed the limits of the constitution too far. The irony is that the Bush administration, through its secrecy and disregard for privacy laws, and made it necessary for newspapers to publish these reports.
    Now it’s up to citizens to hold the Bush administration and its supporters accountable.

  4. Dave

    Bud, if liberals are concerned about the murder rate in America, why do they fight against tougher laws and tougher sentences for criminals? The ACLU has never met a killer or child pedophile it didnt like. I will await your answer on that question.

  5. Dave

    Mark G, How much concern did you have for the violation of privacy that just happened to Rush Limbaugh? The customers officer, A. Asensio, picked out Rush and then called the press to make sure the invasion of privacy was broadcast to all. This is how the left attacks people politically and uses govt. power to harm individuals. Ms. Asensio will get hers, soon enough.

  6. LexWolf

    I would hate to see freedom of the press abridged because the current practitioners are so blind in their hatred of Bush that they would stop at nothing, and risk their own freedom that way.
    The press has always published stuff that embarrassed our politicians and that’s great. However, in the past we always had the feeling that no matter what was published, the press was still very much on our side. Now many don’t have that feeling anymore, at a time when stuff is published that has no value to our side and can only help the enemy. In effect, certain news organizations have joined the enemy in a de facto alliance.
    Yes, the free market will eventually solve the problem but how many terrorists will get away in the process, how many investigations will be sabotaged, how many soldiers will have to die before that happens?
    Here’s a great column about the nefarious NY Times.

  7. Mary Rosh

    Once again Warthen displays the laziness and dishonesty that has rendered him a failure as a journalist and as a human being. The Times didn’t “[reveal] details of how we track financial transactions in the pursuit of terrorists.” This information has been widely known for years. It’s known to people in the financial community. It’s known to terrorists. For example, here is what Victor Comras has to say about it:
    Yesterday’s New York Times Story on US monitoring of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) transactions certainly hit the street with a splash. It awoke the general public to the practice. In that sense, it was truly new news. But reports on US monitoring of SWIFT transactions have been out there for some time. The information was fairly well known by terrorism financing experts back in 2002. The UN Al Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Group , on which I served as the terrorism financing expert, learned of the practice during the course of our monitoring inquiries. The information was incorporated in our report to the UN Security Council in December 2002. That report is still available on the UN Website. Paragraph 31 of the report states:
    “The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries.”
    U.S. monitoring of international transactions has been known for years. The financial community knew it. Terrorists knew it. The fact that Warthen did not know it tells us only that Warthen is stupid and lazy, and is a failure as a journalist, but, of course, that is something that was widely known to begin with.
    The attack on the Times, of course, is dishonest, and is simply an attempt to silence a source of criticism of the Bush administration.
    Warthen’s other point, that the press should act as cheerleaders for whatever foreign adventure wants to undertake, also shows his lack of integrity, and helps to explain why he is a failed journalist working at a failed newspaper. Warthen’s argument shows him for the coward he is. He once again fails to raise any substantive argument in favor of the Iraq war – what substantive argument is there to be made? – but instead simply attacks those who do not give unqualified support to the undertaking, and who dare to present facts that tend to demonstrate that the undertaking is unwise.
    Not only is Warthen’s argument inherently dishonest, he makes it in a dishonest way. For example, he refers to “the defunct Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, which took pride in its critical investigations of the Iraq war” without explaining exacly what those “critical investigations” were. The “critical investigations” that Warthen refers to without explaining, were investigations that revealed that the claims of the administration spokespeople that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were lies. Instead of simply acting as stenographers for officials pushing a story, Knight Ridder contacted lower level officials, who knew the same facts, but who were more willing to tell the truth.
    The fact that public officials are lying in order to push the nation into war is an important one, and in revealing such facts, the press fulfills an important public interest, an interest much more important than acting as a cheerleader for war.
    Of course, Warthen only takes the view he does because he advocated and continues to advocate the Iraq war in order to promote his chickenhawk fantasies. He is seeking to put off the day when he will be forced to admit he was wrong, and to him, that is more important than the deaths of 100 or 1000 American soldiers. Warthen copied a couple of ideas from Thomas Friedman (someone who, if it can be believed, is almost as worthless as Warthen), decided that the picture Friedman painted (that of a cost-free U.S. military operation giving birth to an Iraq that was happy, free, prosperous, and America-loving, and in which every citizen had a pony). Warthen lacks the capacity to examine whether this dream was reasonably likely to be achived, and he lacks the interest to consider the costs of the operation.
    Warthen doesn’t care about the costs of the Iraq war. He doesn’t bear any of them. He doesn’t care about the thousands of American soldiers who have died, because he doesn’t, and wouldn’t, shoulder their burdens himself. He doesn’t care about the hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes that have been wasted, because he doesn’t make any positive financial contribution to America. Instead, Warthen sits on his sofa, spinning out fantasies that impose horrendous costs, none of which are borne by him, and supports the course of action he advocates not with substantive arguments, but by attacking the patriotism of those who disagree with him.

  8. mark g

    Dave: I try to block Rush and his use of Viagra from my mind…but from what little I’ve read, it was a legitimate search, and the charges will likely be dropped. With Republicans in control everywhere you turn, how can you possibly describe that as a leftist conspiracy?
    LexWolf: There are many patriotic people, many of whom wear the uniform, who distrust the Bush administration, and understand the need for a vigilent and free press. To say the press has joined the enemy is hyperbole. It is only because the Bush administration has been continuously dishonest and less than forthcoming that I– a republican– support the Time’s decision to run these stories.
    Mary: You have several good points in your post, but your vituperative attack on Brad “as a human being” only serves to divert attention from the real and urgent issues at hand.
    I enjoy the give-and-take in the blogosphere, but when I check in on this site, I’m often surpised at the shrill and angry tone. Why so much anger focused at The State and Brad?

  9. Mary Rosh

    Mark, it’s because I don’t see civility a higher good than the lives of 2546 American soldiers (so far). WArthen bears none of the burden of the war. He contributes nothing to it financially. He has no substantive argument to make in its favor. The only “argument” he has to make is to look at those who report facts that conflict with his viewpoint and accuse them of “demoralizing” the American people.
    Why isn’t someone who does such things deserving of all the opprobrium that can be heaped upon him?

  10. mark g

    Well, I know Brad is a big boy, and he doesn’t need me to defend him. But I guess I’d say he’s not a soldier, he’s a columnist and editor. And that he does support the war financially, like us all, through our taxes.
    Philosphically I’m with you…I’m apalled that so many Americans– especially republicans– are abrogating their responsibility as citizens and not thinking critically about the Bush administration.
    I thought Frank Rich made a great point in the NY Times today– the “axis of evil,” a phrase coined by Bush in 2002 to include Iran, Iraq and North Korea, is far more dangerous today than it was then. Largeley because of the ineptitude of the Bush administration. As a citizen, a republican and a veteran, I think it’s unpatriotic for Americans to be so blind to the facts just for the sake of supporting their political leader. I think the reality of it is just too stark for many to deal with.
    Over 2,500 American troops dead– and don’t forget the 40,000 troops permanently maimed and wounded. And how about those 220,000 innocent Iraqi citizens who have died since 2002? It’s a real mess.
    I’d just suggest civility is to due to those of us who’d like to see this blog develop into something interesting and useful. And that Brad might deserve at least a little civility since he is, after all, making this site available to us all.

  11. bud

    mark g, I agree with you in principal. It’s imporant to remain civil when discussing political issues. However, the so-called “war on terror” in general and the Iraq war in particular is such a disaster we need to aggressively point out the facts concerning our presidents dismal performance. The right-wing lies about so many democrats who actually served in Vietnam shows just how far they will go to retain power. Al Gore, Max Cleland, John Kerry and now congressman Murtha have all been ruthlessly slandered by the chickenhawk right.
    I think it’s past time for the media, including Brad, to do their job a little better and expose the “swift boat” liers for what they really are, shameless opportunists of the worst kind, conmen exploiting people’s fear to make a buck.

  12. Dave

    Bud, Kerry still has not released his Form 180 so people can see his “real” military records so by doing that the SWBVFT are proved correct day by day, and they dont make any money from their truthfulness. Anyway, Kerry is like a 3 day old fish to his own party. What was the vote on his Iraq timetable. 93 to 6 or something in the Senate. The man is on the lunatic fringe. Then you have Joe Lieberman, an honorable Senator who was on the 2k national ticket, being drummed out of his own party. I love it, the Dems are imploding. Hopefully they keep it up.

  13. Lee

    We’ll have a spend a lot more on law enforcement, prisons, hospitals, funerals and reconstruction, if the coward Democrats have their way and retreat from Iraq – because terrorists will be here, blowning up the Holland Tunnel, releasing poison gas in the subways, and setting wildfires in the West.

  14. LexWolf

    Now that the treasonous NY Times is on the job, I wonder how much longer this secret program will remain secret. Surely the public in Iran and North Korea have a ‘need to know’ even if we in the US don’t:
    West mounts ‘secret war’ to keep nuclear North Korea in check
    Michael Sheridan, Far East Correspondent
    A PROGRAMME of covert action against nuclear and missile traffic to North Korea and Iran is to be intensified after last week’s missile tests by the North Korean regime.
    Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a “secret war” against Pyongyang and Tehran.
    It has so far involved interceptions of North Korean ships at sea, US agents prowling the waterfronts in Taiwan, multinational naval and air surveillance missions out of Singapore, investigators poring over the books of dubious banks in the former Portuguese colony of Macau and a fleet of planes and ships eavesdropping on the “hermit kingdom” in the waters north of Japan.
    Few details filter out from western officials about the programme, which has operated since 2003, or about the American financial sanctions that accompany it.
    But together they have tightened a noose around Kim Jong-il’s bankrupt, hungry nation.
    “Diplomacy alone has not worked, military action is not on the table and so you’ll see a persistent increase in this kind of pressure,” said a senior western official.
    Here’s the rest of the article

  15. kc

    Is ‘The Times’ trying to undermine war effort?
    No; it just looks like it

    Not to me.
    Which “war effort,” anyway? Are you referring to our invasion of Iraq? Because the NYT story in question didn’t have anything to do with that.

  16. kc

    Now that the treasonous NY Times is on the job, I wonder how much longer this secret program will remain secret. [proceeds to cite and quote from London Times article discussing so-called secret program] – LexWolf
    Who wants to break the bad news to LW?

  17. LexWolf

    What bad news? That this is a London Times article? I knew that (after all, I had to copy the URL for the link) but you obviously don’t know that this is a clear call for the NY Times to shake the bushes to see what leakers will fall out. Undoubtedly the phonelines between the CIA and the NYT are running hot today and in a week or two North Korea might know exactly what we are doing against them. Heh, our enemies don’t need secret spy agencies when they can just wait for the NYT to tell them all they want to know.

  18. Dave

    The NY Times used a 3 inch headline with the word SECRET in it to announce their treason to the world, then after being grilled on that treason, tried to say that the program really wasn’t secret, yadda, yadda, yadda. They don’t even have enough guts to back up their own stories, limpwristed weaklings of the left that they are.

  19. Mary Rosh

    Dave, as I pointed out above, the information was not secret, but had been widely known for several years.
    Remember, the fact that you don’t know something doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t generally known. It could just mean that you’re ignorant.

  20. Mary Rosh

    Lex, the program isn’t secret now that you’ve blown the cover off of it. What explanation do you have for your treasonous exposure of a secret program that’s vital to our nation’s security?

  21. Lee

    Kind of like how it was no secret that Valerie Plame was a CIA employee, long before Judith Miller wrote it in the New York Times…
    … except the Democrats acted outraged over the publication of that fact.

  22. kc

    Lex, the program isn’t secret now that you’ve blown the cover off of it. What explanation do you have for your treasonous exposure of a secret program that’s vital to our nation’s security?
    Thank you, Mary. I’m glad at least ONE patriot, besides myself, comments here.

  23. Mary Rosh

    Lee, the SWIFT “secret” was publicly reported over 3 years before the NYT reported on it, and specific documents dating from that time exist and can be identified.
    There are no reports exposing Valerie Plame’s status, appearing before Novak’s column. What there are, are claims, appearing AFTER Novak exposed her status, that her status wasn’t really a secret. Those claims are lies.
    If they aren’t lies, point to a document, dated before July 14, 2003, exposing her status.
    If you can’t (and you can’t), why don’t you quit talking about things you know nothing about. That won’t leave you much to talk about, so you could pass the time trying to develop enough initiative to support yourself without handouts.

  24. LexWolf

    that secret in fact was so secret that even the author of the NYT article didn’t know about it. Quite obviously it’s YOU who doesn’t know what she’s talking bout!
    Secret, Not Secret; Secret, Not Secret
    The New York Times undertook to blow what it called, in its headline, the “secret” international terrorist financing tracking program, for reasons that it never has been able to explain. Initially, there was no doubt about the fact that the Times was exposing a secret; reporter Eric Lichtblau used that word to describe the SWIFT program something like twelve times in the body of the Times’ article. But when the Times unexpectedly found itself under heavy criticism for damaging national security, it took the nearest port in a storm, and claimed that the SWIFT program wasn’t a secret after all. Everyone knew about it! Which, of course, left people scratching their heads over the story’s page one, above the fold placement.
    It turns out, though, that there was at least one guy who didn’t know about the SWIFT program–Eric Lichtblau. In November 2005, as noted this morning by Villainous Company, Lichtblau himself authored an article in the Times titled, “U.S. Lacks Strategy to Curb Terror Funds.” In that article, Lichtblau, obviously unaware of the SWIFT program, wrote that progress in identifying sources of terrorist funding had been poor, and that the administration:
    is now developing a program to gain access to and track potentially hundreds of millions of international bank transfers into the United States.
    But experts in the field say the results have been spotty, with few clear dents in Al Qaeda’s ability to move money and finance terrorist attacks.
    Apparently those “experts in the field” didn’t know about the SWIFT program either, even though it had been going on for years, as Lichtblau later reported, nor did they evidently know about its role in capturing the most wanted terrorist in Southeast Asia, Hambali.
    So much for the “everybody knew about it” defense. Note, too, what it says about the editorial policies of the Times: if the administration allegedly lacks a strategy, it should be criticized for that. If it turns out that it had a strategy all along, and the strategy was a successful one, then the administration should be criticized for keeping it a secret.
    If Lichtblau had an ounce of integrity or self-respect, he would resign in disgrace, along with Bill Keller and Pinch Sulzberger.

  25. Lee

    Plame donation to Soros ACT group
    Plame’s donation to Gore with her home address
    and her employment at CIA front company “Brewster-Jennings & Associates.”
    Wilson even staged the photos of himself and his “secretive” wife dining at fancy resturants, and some are in his book. Valerie was so worried about “being exposed” that she invited London Telegraph reporter Philip Sherwell into her home and gave him the names of her children for his article.

  26. Lee

    Some FEC contributions from Joseph C. Wilson to Al Gore and other Democrats in 2000, including some with the occupation of engineer, and addresss of a non-existant construction company.
    Wilson’s biography in “Who’s Who in America” 2000 Edition, names his wife as Valerie Plame, and names her employer, the CIA front company for her and other analysts.

  27. Mary Rosh

    Lex, none of that alters the fact that the fact that the U.S. government was tracking SWIFT transactions was known at least as early as 2002. This is what the U.N. Security Council report said in December of 2002:
    “The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries.”
    I don’t care that you hate the New York Times. I don’t care that you have no substantive arguments to make in support of your conservative views. I don’t care that you are unwilling to shoulder any burden or make any sacrifices in support of your beliefs, other than sitting on your sofa, living off of handouts paid for by the taxes of liberals, and accusing everyone who disagrees with you of treason.
    The fact is, that the New York Times didn’t compromise any secret information by reporting facts that were generally known in 2002.

  28. Mary Rosh

    Lee, I’m sorry I raised the prospect of your developing enough initiative to support yourself without taking handouts. I forgot that living your whole life steeped in a climate of ignorance, shiftlessness, and dishonesty has rendered you permanently incapable of any worthwhile achievement.
    The fact that Valerie Wilson EXISTED wasn’t secret. The fact that she had a job wasn’t a secret. The secret was that she worked for the CIA, and that Brewster Jennings was a front company for the CIA.
    The documents you refer to don’t refer to “CIA front company Brewster Jennings and Associates.” They refer to just plain “Brewster Jennings and Associates.”
    So I take it that you are admitting that there were no documents pedating July 14, 2003, identifying Valerie Wilson as an employee of the CIA?

  29. LexWolf

    Gotta love your lack of comprehension, Mary. If all these facts “were generally known in 2002”, how come the very author of the SWIFT piece didn’t know about about them 6 months before he blew the SWIFT program? In fact he was so convinced of the secrecy that he splashed SECRET all over his piece. Now let’s just see if he’ll win another Pulitzer for this one, this one for revealing a secret program that wasn’t secret after all. Stranger things have happened, you know.

  30. LexWolf

    read the whole thing (click on the headline) so you can become at least a little educated about this issue but here are the highlights:
    Did the United Nations Expose the SWIFT Program?
    A few days ago, we challenged liberals to provide us with evidence that the terrorists already knew about the administration’s use of SWIFT to track terrorist financing, as the New York Times now claims, so that the Times’ exposure of that program did not damage national security. The most coherent response we got was from Greg Sargent of New York Magazine, who writes at the American Prospect’s media and politics blog…..
    First, in order to show that the Times’ report was “old news” that could not have damaged national security, liberals would have to demonstrate that the terrorists knew three things: 1) that SWIFT’s international headquarters in Brussels maintains a database that includes information on the vast majority of all international banking transactions; 2) that the United States had persuaded the foreign bankers who operate SWIFT’s Brussels headquarters (and perhaps their governments) to give the U.S. access to that database; and 3) that the nature of the records in the SWIFT database is such as to allow terrorists and their financiers to be tracked and identified.
    Does the U.N. report, which can be accessed here, satisfy these elements? Clearly not, for a number of reasons.
    First, there is no evidence whatsoever that any terrorist–let alone all terrorists–ever read the U.N. report. The fact that the report was on the U.N.’s web site where it could be found, after the fact, by liberals searching for information about SWIFT does not demonstrate that any terrorists knew about it. So on its face, the suggested “proof” is inadequate.
    Second, if we’re going to assume the terrorists read that particular U.N. report, let’s assume they read it carefully. Paragraph 31 does not say that the United States had gained access to the data maintained by SWIFT’s international headquarters in Brussels. On the contrary, the paragraph refers specifically to “systems in the United States of America” which were being monitored by the U.S. These systems included Fedwire, which is operated by the Federal Reserve Board, CHIPS, an American bank-owned alternative to Fedwire, and the SWIFT operation “in the United States,” which is located in New York. Paragraph 31 nowhere hints that SWIFT’s Brussels headquarters had a massive database of international money transfers, or that the U.S. had gotten access to it.
    This is perhaps why the government of Belgium–which is much more apt than a group of terrorists to read United Nations reports–had no idea, prior to the Times’ report, that SWIFT’s Brussels headquarters had allowed the U.S. government access to its database. When the Belgian government learned that last month, it launched an investigation,
    Third, let’s assume the terrorists read not just paragraph 31, but the entire U.N. report. If they did so, they would find no indication that SWIFT’s headquarters contained the mother lode of international financial data, to which the U.S. had already gained access. On the contrary, paragraph 90 of the report says that “it has become more difficult to trace and identify [al Qaeda’s] assets.” If the terrorists actually read the report, which is highly unlikely, they would have gained false comfort from it.
    Fourth, we know for sure that U.N. report of December 2002 didn’t blow the secrecy of the SWIFT program, because that program achieved its most notable success eight months later with the capture of Hambali. Further, we know that even as of last month the program’s cover hadn’t been blown, because it was described as instrumental in several investigations that were ongoing when the Times printed the illegally leaked information about the program. So as of last month, the terrorists hadn’t yet changed whatever behavior allowed them to be tracked by SWIFT. Now that they know how we’ve been tracking them, they can investigate the SWIFT system, reverse-engineer the transactions that led to the capture of Hambali and other terrorists, and, in all likelihood, negate the benefits of this highly successful program.
    Liberals’ reliance on the 2002 U.N. report is typical of how they so often argue: seize on a word here and a phrase there, make wild assumptions, ignore the obvious, and assert the incredible in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

  31. Lee

    Any cub reporter could take the few documents I posted here, out of the many other clues left by Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame, and in one day, figured out, as I did, that she was a CIA analyst of some sort. Her employer, the front company Brewster Jennings, could not stand up to the mildest scrutiny, such as a walk in the front door.
    In fact, when the campaign donations to Democrats by BJ&A employees brought mild questions about its business from local reporters and GOP investigators, the CIA quickly abandoned it as a front.
    In addition, the Associated Press checked my theory by doing a credit check on Wilson and Plame, and found her occupation listed as an employee of the CIA. Some undercover agent that is!

  32. Mary Rosh

    Lee, yes, anybody could have figured out, after July 14, 2003, that Brewster Jennings was a CIA front.
    So I take it that you’re admitting that there are no documents predating July 14, 2003, exposing Valerie Wilson’s status as a CIA agent?

  33. Lee

    Mary, tell yourself whatever lie you need to.
    But I, and others, knew that Joseph Wilson’s wife was a CIA analyst behind his trip to Niger as soon as he wrote that CYA piece in the New York Times, to excuse himself for failing to get all the information on Iraq’s interest in uranium.

  34. WM

    After reading Warthen’s article Sunday morning all I could do was shake my head in disgust. It’s no wonder that the State is a second class newspaper and will always be so under Warthen.
    The State has marched lock-step with the Republican Party line ever since I’ve been in SC (8 years). If newspapers actually did their job and asked hard questions and then printed them, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the middle of a civil war in Iraq. Americans are pissed off that we were lead around by the nose by a lying administration and that the “free press” was pushing the administrations agenda, no qustions asked. And why not push the Bush agenda? If you crossed the powers that be you might not get embedded and be part of the action.
    Brad, Watergate journalism was a high water mark for the American press. If you want to publish governemnt news releases and the police blotter then you don’t need to be part of journalism today (unless of course it’s Fox News).
    Today, we have more news outlets than we could have dreamt of 40 years ago. With that comes increase competition and responsibility, both of which the NY and LA Times considered. It also requires that the media decide what they are and how they will act. Is the purpose of the State Newspaper to inform the public, is it to uncover truths or is it to sell advertising?
    If it’s just to print others’ stories and sell advertising perhaps we are better off with out the State.

  35. Lee

    What lies by the Bush Administration?
    * We did find hijacker training camps in Iraq.
    * We did find financial records and meetings between Al Qaeda and top Iraqis.
    * We did find, and continue to find, over 3,000 cannisters of Sarin, mustard gas, phosgene and other military warfare poison gases missed by the UN inspectors.
    * We did find and kill lots of non-Iraqi Muslim terrorists in Iraq, many of whom had been living there since the late 1990s.

  36. Mary Rosh

    Lee, OK, if you and these other people knew that Valerie Wilson was a CIA operative before July 14, 2003, let’s see a publicly available document with that information that can be authenticated as having originated before July 14, 2003.
    Can I take your failure to point to any such document as an admission that her status was not publicly known before July 14, 2003, and that your claims that it was known are lies?

  37. Mary Rosh

    WM, no!
    The State would have to undertake and complete a long, arduous process of improvement before it could claim to be a second class paper.
    It might start by asking Huckleberry Graham why he participated in filing a fraudulent brief with the Supreme Court.

  38. WM

    There were no WMDs. The 3,000 cannisters were relics from 10-15 years ago and inoperable. The invasion of Afghanistan made sense – kill the terrorists. The invasion of Iraq was conceived years before 9/11 by Rummy, Paul W., Richard Pearle and the rest of the neo-nazis, I mean conservatives during the Clinton Administration.
    Iraq was about WMDs. No wait, it’s about democracy. No wait…
    The Bush administration used Colin Powell as a tool to spread more lies at the UN.
    How many dead and wounded are we up to today in Iraq? All along the media has just bent over and accepted every lie as gospel. Brad’s article highlights the media’s turn from crusader to lap-dog. Woof!

  39. Mary Rosh

    Yeah, Lex, a lot of words explaining that black is white.
    I think this:
    “First, there is no evidence whatsoever that any terrorist–let alone all terrorists–ever read the U.N. report.”
    tells us everything we need to know about the soundness of the reasoning in the post, and the integrity of the authors.

  40. Lee

    LEFT LIE: “The 3,000 cannisters were inoperable.”
    FACT: The military commander in charge and the UN inspectors say they don’t know how much the deadly WMD have degraded, but they are still deadly and they have to remove them to a safe place for destruction, probably by incineration on a remote island.

  41. Dave

    The BBC did a report just last January about the horrors of buried mustard gas canisters from World War I posing a threat to children in France and elsewhere. The left just cannot find enough ways to diminish Saddam’s WMD. The worst thing is, most of the moronic pacifist weaklings writing these articles wouldn’t know a chemical weapon from an aspirin, but spout on about what is and isnt dangerous.

  42. WM

    Dave and Lee,
    You have proven yourselves to be good right-wing extremists attacking anything that doesn’t fit into your world view. Now how about doing something truely inspiring – sticking to the subject. The discussion is about Warthens’ article, his lack of leadership and wanting to go back to the “good olde days” when the press would report only what the government wanted.
    You both demonstrate why most Americans so dislike political discourse today – extreme divisiveness and failure to address the issue.
    Thanks for the chat. Now I don’t have to watch Fox News for another year.

  43. Lee

    WM falls back on the only dull tool the modern socialist has – personal insult.
    The facts make anti-intellectuals like WM angry. He cannot dispute them. They vaporize the anti-American slogans about “no weapons were found”, and “it’s all for oil”.
    If the Democrats get back in control, they will be voting overwhelmingly against the WMD of Iran, and doing nothing about it.

  44. LexWolf

    Answer that, Bill Keller and the NY Timers
    Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department testified before the House Subcommittee on Financial Services about the harm done by the leak of the SWIFT program. Hugh Hewitt provides a link to Levey’s statement about what we have lost since the New York Times decided that their judgment on national security trumped those who dealt with security affairs day in and day out.
    Some observers have argued that the disclosure of the program did little damage because terrorist facilitators are smart and already knew to avoid the banking system. They correctly point out that there has been an overall trend among terrorists towards cash couriers and other informal mechanisms of money transfer – a trend that I have testified about. They also hold up as public warnings the repeated assertions by government officials that we are actively following the terrorists’ money.
    What we had not spoken about publicly, however, is this particular source. And, unfortunately, this revelation is very damaging. Since being asked to oversee this program by then-Secretary Snow and then-Deputy Secretary Bodman almost two years ago, I have received the written output from this program as part of my daily intelligence briefing. For two years, I have been reviewing that output every morning. I cannot remember a day when that briefing did not include at least one terrorism lead from this program. Despite attempts at secrecy, terrorist facilitators have continued to use the international banking system to send money to one another, even after September 11th. This disclosure compromised one of our most valuable programs and will only make our efforts to track terrorist financing –and to prevent terrorist attacks– harder. Tracking terrorist money trails is difficult enough without having our sources and methods reported on the front page newspapers. (emphasis added)
    Zap! So much for this supercilious claim that, of course the terrorists knew all about this program and so the NYT story was nothing new. If they knew all about it, why was our guy in the Treasury Department seeing something every single day of the past two years that came from a lead from this program? Sounds like the terrorists didn’t all know about it, did they?


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