Saturday, December 17, 2005

NSA domestic spying reporting delay

More on the delay by the New York Times in reporting on the NSA domestic spying scandal, from the Washington Post:

"The decision to withhold the article caused some friction within the Times' Washington bureau, according to people close to the paper. Some reporters and editors in New York and in the bureau, including Risen and co-writer Eric Lichtblau, had pushed for earlier publication, according to these people. One described the story's path to publication as difficult, with much discussion about whether it could have been published earlier.

In a statement yesterday, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller did not mention the book. He wrote that when the Times became aware that the NSA was conducting domestic wiretaps without warrants, 'the Administration argued strongly that writing about this eavesdropping program would give terrorists clues about the vulnerability of their communications and would deprive the government of an effective tool for the protection of the country's security.'"

I don't know whether that is Keller's lie or a Bush Administration lie, but it is obviously a lie. NSA domestic spying was always possible with a FISA warrant, and the terrorists, if any, would have known about that and communicated accordingly. You'll remember that one of the oddities of the Moussaoui case was that the FBI claimed that it didn't investigate his computer in August 2001 because it would have required a FISA warrant and it felt it would not have been able to obtain one, despite the fact that out of literally thousands of FISA warrant requests only one had ever been refused, and that refusal was reversed on appeal. Therefore, it was clear that the FBI, for some no doubt bad reason, didn't want to see what was in Moussaoui's laptop in August 2001. The Bush Administration no doubt didn't want to obtain warrants as the volume of warrants requested would eventually have become known, and thus become a political issue.

It appears to be increasingly obvious that the New York Times is simply a communications arm for Bush Administration propaganda. They carried the can on the Iraq lies, and the ensuing scandal is hurting their reputation and circulation. They needed a big scoop, and thus went to the White House to ask permission that this story be released, on the basis that the White House owed them a favor. Can't you imaging Pinch Sulzberger crying his eyes out to Karl Rove, begging to be allowed to publish the article so that the family stop bugging him about the circulation numbers? Rove magnanimously agrees, provided Pinch keep up the good work at spreading the gospel according to Bush. Will they now start the drumbeat of lies for the coming attack against Syria? They may have to bring Judith Miller back.