JOHN RIEWE

NY Times Has Your Back

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You needn’t worry about the government impinging on your right to privacy in its execution on the war on terror. That’s because Bill Keller’s NY Times is here to make sure the US government is more transparent than Transparency International. Congressional Democrats can’t seem to find out how badly the Bush War on Terror is destroying the Bill of Rights; luckily for them the press can find out just in time for the Dems to piously raise “serious concerns” about invasions of our privacy. And, my how we have been saved by that intrepid media which is unafraid to spit in the face of government requests to keep quiet. Now we know that the government is listening in to all our phone conversations without warrants. Now we know that the government tracks every dime we spend. Why if it weren’t for the NY Times’ tireless fight for justice, before too long we might find that we in fact live in a communist state called BushCheneyRiceRumsfeld.

Except its not like that. While the NY Times (and their ilk) parade themselves as some massive watchdog operation, they simultaneously wholly discount the gravity of the War on Terror. While the NY Times et al deign to fight for your supposedly endangered civil rights, they leave the back door wide open as it were. Did they forget that national security was, well, kind of in jeopardy at the moment. Well, as it turns out they did not. Eric Lichtblau, Washington Bureau reporter for the NY Times, was all over talk shows Tuesday explaining the Times’ decision. He admitted that the government had strongly urged them to hold the story of the SWIFT finance tracking program last week, but the decision was made “above my pay grade” said Lichtblau to print it anyway.

So print it they did. And as I mentioned yesterday, Rep. Peter King of New York called for criminal charges against the Times, defining the breaking of the story as “treasonous.” The White House today called it “disgraceful.” How is it that the NY Times deems itself qualified to decide what state secrets should really be secret? On NPR’s Talk of the Nation today Neil Conan ran Lichtblau through a wringer of sorts (refreshing stuff to hear on public radio), finally asking why if the government, which is undisputably the most knowledgeable about the threats we face, says to shut up, then why would the NY Times decide that the danger was not in fact enough to stop the story? In other words, why should we take the Times’ word over the word of the government on how detrimental it is to declassify a very successful anti-terror initiative? On the same show, Jonathan Winer, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of State for international law enforcement under President Clinton, said that were he still in government, he would be furious. In essence, one of the most successful tools in the War on Terror, one that has been shown to save lives and track down terrorists, has been compromised.

Worse still is the fact that not unlike the phone call tracking outcry a few weeks back, we find the program at the heart of the debate is not even illegal. In the SWIFT transaction tracking initiative, we have found that no laws are being broken and no one’s privacy is being impinged upon, despite what the NY Times would like you to think.

Shame on the NY Times for at once impeding the war on terror and feasting on the commotion arising from the false perceptions they will stop at no end to create. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. The claim that Bill Keller is guilty of aiding and abetting terroism appears increasingly less far-fetched.

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Written by John Riewe

June 28, 2006 at 3:17 am

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