The New York Times Undermines National Security

Byron Calame, the Public Editor of the New York Times, writes

The New York Times’s explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper’s repeated pledges of greater transparency. For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush’s secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States. I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future.

The New York Times, by releasing the information when it did, after sitting on it for a year, may have compromised national security. It is clearly the goal of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the liberal publisher of the Times, to discredit the President and to hurt his administration by undermining national security in time of war.

It is my belief that whoever leaked the information to the New York Times has committed an act of treason in time of war and should be prosecuted. The New York Times has shown its disregard for the safety of the United States by publishing the information.

3 thoughts on “The New York Times Undermines National Security

  1. Gary,President Bush discredits himself and undermines his own administration by usurping powers not relegated to him by the Constitutition. This is not just my opinion, but that of Democrats, Republicans and many well-intentioned, patriotic Americans.The President is responsible for maintaining our security, and I want him to be as diligent as possible. But I also want him to obey the law. He has all the tools to do that without having to wiretap anyone without a warrant.I for one am glad the NY Times reported its story. But I’m also disappointed in its decision to wait an entire year. Ours is a better society and country because of the transparency of government decisions.Claims of treason are partisan politics, nothing more.Howard


  2. Howard,I respectfully disagree completely with what you wrote. The President has full authority to conduct surveillance of suspected terrorists who are making phone calls into, or out of, the US. This will be proven to be the case in the courts. There is not only Consitutional authority for that power, but also special powers relegated to the President by Congress in 2002.The leak of such information weakens our national security in time of war, and is therefore a treasonous act. Publishing the information, as the NYT did, shows total disregard for our security.I do agree that our society is better because of its transparency, but there should be self-preserving limits to that transparency.What if the NYT had published in 1942 that the US Govt. had figured out the code for the Nazi encrypted messages, or that the US was secretly wire tapping (without warrant) suspected enemy spies in the US (which it was doing). How is this different?The SOLE purpose of 1) the leak, and 2) the publication was to discredit the President and to undermine his administration for political purposes, despite the potential danger to national security.


  3. Gary,I confess that I’m of two minds about the President’s authority in this matter. The language of the Patriot Act is sufficiently vague to possibly give him the latitude to wiretap without warrants. So you may be right.But what really bothers me is that existing law grants him the same tools, and he could easily have gone the route of FISA, which blesses 99.99% of every government request for a wiretap, even after the fact. And if he HAD gone that route, no one would have uttered a peep when the news broke. Now he opens himself up to legal scrutiny that he may very well win in the courts.But my larger point is that he could have avoided that path from the outset. To me, it’s just bad political judgement. I don’t agree with most of what he does, Gary, but for crying out loud, I don’t want to see him, or any president, fail.Remember what LBJ used to say: “I’m the only president you’ve got.” Love him or hate him, President Bush is my president, too. And the only one I’ve got at the moment. I want him to succeed!As far as the New York Times controversy is concerned, I think you’re being naive. al Qaeda is too professional a group to not already suspect its calls are being tapped. I refuse to believe that the Times story revealed something al Qaedo didn’t already know. And if the Times is so intent on discrediting President Bush, why did they wait an entire year to publish the story?Howard


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