The Media Is The Decider

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An extraordinary article from AP detailing how hard the government tried to convince the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times not to publish the story about the money transfer monitoring. You know, the program that by the paper's own admission doesn't break any laws but that has caused terrorists to be arrested and prosecuted. But in the end, the paper's right to expose people to terror attacks far outweighed any paltry concerns.

Administration officials were concerned that news reports of the program would diminish its effectiveness and could harm overall national security.

"It's a tough call; it was not a decision made lightly," said Doyle McManus, the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau chief. "The key issue here is whether the government has shown that there are adequate safeguards in these programs to give American citizens confidence that information that should remain private is being protected."

Treasury Department officials spent 90 minutes Thursday meeting with the newspaper's reporters, stressing the legality of the program and urging the paper to not publish a story on the program, McManus said in a telephone interview.

"They were quite vigorous, they were quite energetic. They made a very strong case," he said.

In its story, The New York Times said it carefully weighed the administration's arguments for withholding the information and gave them "the most serious and respectful consideration."

"We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use it may be, is a matter of public interest," said Bill Keller, the Times' executive editor.

Let's make this quite clear. The only interest being served here is the media's. There is no compelling public interest whatsoever. If someone were to publish the floor plans of the New York Times building, would the NYT be so all fired up about the right of the public to know?

Just asking.

UPDATE: Others: Flopping Aces, Iowa Voice, Webloggin, Small Town Veteran,

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25 Responses to The Media Is The Decider

  1. Shawn says:

    sedition : incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority

    From Merriam-Webster. Gee, the NYT sure seems to be toying with seditious behavior. I so hope there is a large backlash against them for this.

  2. diva says:

    Outraged doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about this NYT report. They have officially become the enemy as far as I am concerned. As someone who has had securtiy clearances in the past I know full well that leaking classified information is not protected by the First Amendment – what those government officials did was illegal and I hope and pray that they are found and brought to trial for divulging information that was classified and of utmost importance to National Security.

    What the government did in this case is no worse than what our credit card companies and banking institutions do when they track and analyze our purchases and buying habits so that they can sell us more crap that we don’t need or want. So what’s the big deal? Would the NYT and the Left have kept their mouths shut if Clinton was the one running this war on terror? Of course they would have – just like they stood behind him and said he didn’t lie and abuse his presidential powers back in 1998 and 1999 but now they openly admit that he did “lie but nobody died”. Hypocrites, all of them and now they are putting us, the citizens of this country” in peril by outting our information gathering and analysis system. Like I said outrage can not sufficiently define how I feel right now.

  3. Roland Hesz says:

    Well, I think it woudl have been nice to get a proper authorization to do the monitoring nonetheless.

    Making a useful and practical thing in an unlawful way.
    Now that’s a hard thing

    A) do we tell that they do something breaking the law, or we keep quiet?
    B) do we tell what security measures they took, or we keep quiet?

    One thing I can’t understand: How hard is it to get a lawful authorization to do these things?
    I mean, yes, neither the NYT nor the LAT did much good by telling everyone that the bank transfers are monitored, and yes, it should have consequences, but I am getting quite uneasy to hear that a government is doing some things against the laws.

    I was called on being prejudiced and all, but you know that I live in a former communist country, and thus I am a bit sceptical about governments breaking the rules and laws – and yes, they always do it for your good -, and then covering it up.
    You could say, I have a bit more intimate experience with a government where almost everything can happen – even if we were the “happiest
    barrack in the lager” – than people in the US, having some really “funny” family stories involving black cars, late night knocking on the door, and such.

  4. Gaius says:

    Even the papers acknowledge no laws appear to have been broken. They are “uneasy” with the practice.

    I’m “uneasy” with newspapers that believe laws and common sense don’t apply to them.

  5. Dos. says:

    Ottawa announced yesterday that the natural resource sector in Ottawa is having espionaage problems. The US announced today they are tracking mining companies, after the arrests of the terrorists-making clear that it was all domestic.

    Natural resources are considered Canada’s future.

    There is currently legilsation on mining that has been stalled in the Senate.

    Santorum’s scoop may have been too much

  6. blogenfreude says:

    So are you going to string up The Wall Street Journal too for reporting on this?

  7. Gaius says:

    The NYT broke it. That others pile on then is also reprehensible. When a terrorist attack kills people will the journalists be answerable for this?

  8. diva says:


    The entire operation was legal – even the NYT and the LAT agreed to that. The NYT and LAT just didn’t like that it was being done. I blame the NYT for not listening to the bi-partisan group that asked them to sit on the story. They ran with the story for their own interest not the interest of the citizens of this country.

    And as outraged as I am at the NYT and any other Media outlets that followed in their footsteps with this story – I am even more outraged at the meltdown that is happening within our intelligence community. There are rogue agents who have put their political agenda ahead of the national security agenda of this country and I hope those leakers are found out and suffer the consequences for leaking classified information and as I recall from my days in that world – they are not light consequences – prison for 10 – 25 years , huge fines and their careers will be finished – no one will rehire them (well maybe Burger King but not in the defense world).

  9. Donna says:

    Big Brother is watching us. We all need to love Big Brother. What would we do without Big Brother? [The bad guys will get us!] Anyone not on Big Brother’s side is unpatriotic. Big Brother uses secrecy to protect us [so don’t worry about silly issues like the bill of rights, and warrants, and oversight, and checks and balances]. Big Brother always knows best what is important to protect the interest of the citizens of this country…..citizens should always shut up, stop trying to think for themselves, stop wanting to understand Big Brother’s secrets, and…..well, just let themselves be lock-step appreciative of Big Brother–it’s the ONLY way to go in hunting bad guys.

  10. Gaius says:


    This program is legal. Even the papers say so. They are just “troubled” by it. It monitored international fund transfers and was strictly limited it scope.

    There was no damage to civil rights. This is media deciding what’s best for you – and the terrorists – to know. So do you think the NYT is better to decide that? Why? A bunch of people with journalism degrees know better than the experts who tried to convince them not to publish this?

    Look hard at what you’re arguing.

  11. Donna says:

    Gaius, you say the program is legal, and that even the papers say so. I read the papers and found that the papers did not say that the program is legal…..or not legal. The articles were quoting Levey [undersec’y of treasury] and other executive branch persons who were the ones saying ‘this is all legal’. To me, this is like executive branch folks declaring so many other secret programs legal. So we citizens may never know if this latest program is legal or not legal, as it pertains to our existing laws.

    That unknowing and a national situation in which we must simply trust is precisely why I wrote the stuff about Big Brother. Big Brother operates programs in secret. Big Brother tells us those programs are legal and not damaging civil rights. We are left with trusting or wondering about Big Brother. Some folks trust, some folks wonder.

    No, I do not think the NYT is better to decide what is ‘best for me’. Human beings, even ‘the experts’ [those who play Big Brother] are fallible and so our system was set up to take that into account through constitutionally required checks and balances. I personally want to know that those checks and balances are operative.

    I still remember being a child and hearing, “Because I said so….” as though that sufficed instead of an explanation. It is a bit maddening to be an adult in my sixties and be in a situation where now I’m supposed trust a secretive Big Brother. The only entity deserving that kind of total trust is God.

  12. Gaius says:

    What law did the Times say was broken? None. They even stated the program did not appear to violate the more stringent laws in place in other countries, did they?

    “Because the New York Times said so” is not one bit better – in fact it is likely a good deal worse. The experts who tried to talk the Times out of publishing this are listed as bi-partisan. The Congress was briefed in. Foreign people were briefed in and required additional controls.

    If there is a conspiracy it is not by the government against you or me. It is by rogue leakers and agenda driven reporting which disregards your life and mine.

  13. Donna says:

    Gaius, please. I nor you know what’s what. There is simply no way I have enough information [nor do you] to make any judgments about this financial spying. It could be the greatest program in our nation’s history, or it could be a scam to corral big monies nefariously…… you and I would be silly to try to judge something as right or wrong that, for all purposes, remains in the ‘secret and classified’ genre.

    I was only reacting to this news as a full-fledged adult who notices that, once again, we citizens are being left to trust some unnamed experts about a secret government program, ‘experts’ who obviously have a vested interest in it as they are a part of instituting it.

    And for heaven’s sake, where did your point about conspiracy come from? I don’t think in conspiracy terms……but I do look at news in terms of human nature and history which are replete with stories of great human acheivements as well as great human follies.

    Please do not try to categorize my wondering as the opposite of your trusting.

  14. Gaius says:

    Read Orin Kerr and Patterico – both attorneys. Both think program is legal. And the program is likely destroyed now.

    This is direct damage to this nation.

  15. Donna says:

    If the program is likely destroyed now and if that is ‘direct damage’ to the nation, then there should be a full inquiry. Until that full inquiry is completed, all parties involved in the disclosure of the program are to be presumed innocent and not subjected to pre-judgments [think Haditha] until all the facts are in. Otherwise, there would be a double standard in operation.

  16. Gaius says:

    Then let the criminal investigation begin. I believe damage has been done.

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  18. Donna says:

    Gaius, I agree…let the investigation begin, as it absolutely should be investigated if damage has been done to our nation.

  19. Gaius says:

    Read the Patterico post I linked further up the page.

  20. Roland Hesz says:

    I got my info from the media.
    And the media wrote that this program was not authorized by the proper organization, only by the president.

    If that was wrong information, then of course my argument is invalid.

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  22. Gaius says:

    One thing I particularly dislike is when one of the lefty sites intentionally misrepresents what my post says. The post at Agitprop is completely false in what it attributes to me.

    “If someone were to publish the floor plans of the New York Times building, would the NYT be so all fired up about the right of the public to know?” is what I wrote. They represent it as:

    “someone should publish the NYT’s floorplan, then maybe some terrorists would kill them, and that’d show ’em!”

    That would be false, folks.

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  24. Roland Hesz says:

    Now comes the next round:

    The European union kindly asks the US: What the heck did you think not telling us that you will watch the european bank transactions too?

    Well, yes. They still don’t understand, that the US has every right, all over the world to do as he pleases, no matter what.

    They simply don’t get it.

    Stupid guys there… :)))

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