As I’m busy writing a paper, I won’t have much time today to comment on the decision of the New York Times “to disclose last night another classified surveillance program aimed at gathering information about terrorist plots.” Bill Keller, the paper’s executive editor, claims that, despite Administration’s pleas not to keep this legal program secret, he decided to publish the story anyway as “a matter of public interest.“
I wonder if Keller and others at the Times want to help the president by this. Given the president’s lackluster polls of late, the paper’s editors likely disclosed this secret program to show what a thorough job President Bush is doing to win the War on Terror. Without media disclosure of this clandestine program, Americans would not otherwise know what efforts the Administration has been taking to catch terrorists before they attack us.
Alas that in their zeal to show the president’s commitment to catching terrorists, the Times may have compromised this program which helped us track down and arrest at least one such villain. If the terrorists know about it, they may find different means to transfer money.
Not only that. On the same day the paper shows one of the many ways the Administration has been trying to track down terrorists, we learn of another success in the War on Terror. The Justice Department announced that it has broken up a terror ring in Florida.
Given that the Times devoted its front page to revelations of the clandestine program, it had to bury this good news deeper in the paper.
UPDATE: Please note I have revised this piece since first posting it. While the president’s critics are engaging in their usual bellyaching about an Administration anti-terror initiative, it appears they’re rushing to judgment. As the Vice President (and others in the Administration) said today, it passes constitutional muster.
Other bloggers have pretty much said most of what I have to say about this program. Make sure to check the roundups not only on Instapundit and Pajamas, but also on Michelle Malkin’s blog. Like Calarato in comment #1 below, I’m pretty much with the Powerline guys on this one.
I believe there are two points to make about this story:
(1) It shows that the president is committed to the War on Terror, pursuing all legal means to track down terrorists seeking to attack Americans (hence my somewhat sarcastic spin in the headline above).
(2) The New York Times is more interested in “getting” the president than in respecting his the Chief Executive’s role in promoting the security of the American people. No wonder Vice President Cheney refused to give the Times special access to him during the campaign. As his daughter puts it in her most excellent book, Now It’s My Turn : A Daughter’s Chronicle of Political Life, “He knew the odds of getting a fair story out of the New York Times, in particular, were pretty much nonexistent.”
In Chapter 16, Mary details how in the final days of the 2004 campaign, the Times ran sixteen stories and columns on Al Qaqaa, a storage facility in Iraq from which 380 tons of explosives supposedly disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the liberation of Iraq. And then, as Mary puts its, a “search of the Times‘ own archives shows than in the four months after the 2004 election, there was exactly one mention of Al Qaqaa” in the paper. Seems the story was only important if it could hurt the president’s chances of reelection.
(Another reason, if you haven’t already to buy Mary’s book.)
UP-UPDATE: It looks like my attempt at sarcasm failed as one reader wrote in to ask if I were being sarcastic. No, I don’t think the NYT was trying to make the president look good. Its revelation will clearly hurt the Administration’s efforts to hunt those who would do us harm. But, it does show that the president is committed to using all legal means to catch those creeps.
UP-UP-UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds (AKA Instapundit) writes, “When big companies dump toxic waste into rivers to enrich themselves, they’re criticized by the press. But this is the same kind of thing — self-serving profiteering at the public’s expense.” I agree.