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July 09, 2006

NYTimesWatch: Connecting The Dots On Treachery

Last week, we observed that the NY Times is no stranger to hypocrisy. Just after September 11th the Op-Ed page of the Times implored the President to do precisely what the Man Who Never Listens, in fact, subsequently did: make aggressive use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to force foreign governments to cooperate with our efforts to track terrorist financing. The really interesting part is why the Times thought tracking both domestic and foreign money transfers was such a good idea. But that's elementary. You see, Clinton had done so in the 1990's:

This strategy was adopted by the Clinton administration after the terrorist attacks on the American embassies in East Africa in 1998, when President Clinton signed similar executive orders against Al Qaeda and the Taliban government in Afghanistan. In some instances, it worked. The efforts helped ground the Afghan national airline, making it harder for Al Qaeda to move resources back and forth from Afghanistan. But over all, we had only limited success. In some cases, foreign governments lacked political will. In other cases, the governments had little ability to help because they had no system to combat money laundering or to audit fund-raising organizations. In the wake of the recent attacks and greater attention to charities that provide direct fund-raising links between Al Qaeda and societies in the Middle East, the Bush administration may be more effective in pressuring other governments.

Flash forward to 2006. Suddenly, though the Bush administration followed the Times' advice to the letter (even warning Bill Keller that disclosing the program would endanger three ongoing terrorism investigations) the Times mysteriously found it "in the public interest" to "out" a successful classified program it admitted was probably legal. More revelations were to follow. Over the next few days, Bill Keller and Times ombudsman Bryan Calame wallowed in a veritable orgy of navel-gazing. The reading public were told the Times' default position was always, always we tell you, to publish absent some compelling reason not to. Oddly then, the Times found compelling reasons during the same time period not to inform its readers that 500 chemical munitions had been overlooked by UN weapons inspectors. It also found compelling reasons to bury the FBI's successful foiling of a terrorist plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel; a story that, in the wake of the WTC attacks on 9/11, one suspects might have been of more than passing interest to New Yorkers.

But today, apparently, the Times finally found an angle of compelling interest to the public in the Holland Tunnel Story:

Recent Arrests in Terror Plots Yield Debate on Pre-emptive Action by Government

I swear by all that is holy, I am not making this up, though it could hardly be surpassed for comedic effect. Is the Times at all concerned that deranged whack jobs are still plotting to blow up innocent civilians? Mais non, cheries! How so? Nevaire are we concerning ourselves with our internationale friends, ze freedom-fighters! Eet ees ze fascist pig-dog BushReich we must be always be engarde against! Not only did those testosterone-laced Bushies fail to keep us safe by establishing a dialog with the terrorists freedom fighters, but now they've expanded their reckless and immoral Doctrine of Pre-Emption to Law Enforcement! I mean, we may have asked for a law enforcement approach to anti-terrorism, but we didn't mean for you to actually put it into action by, like, surveilling the terrorists and arresting them before they could blow us all to Kingdom Come! Immerse yourselves in the sophisticated flexible urban sensibility of the Times, and consider yourselves schooled:

In Miami last month and now in New York, terror cases have unfolded in which suspects have been apprehended before they lined up the intended weapons and the necessary financing or figured out other central details necessary to carry out their plots.

Thus depriving the NYT of those all-important 'faces of the fallen' weekend foldout sections, with the "why weren't we warned?/WHO KNEW???" jeremiads.

"We don't wait until someone has lit the fuse to step in," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Friday at a news conference about the New York plot.

"Please see the Times Special Feature: "Michael Chertoff Hates Black People" in Sunday's Edition"

But the Miami and New York cases are inspiring a new round of skepticism from some lawyers who are openly questioning whether the government, in its zeal to stop terrorism, is forgetting an element central to any case: the actual intent to commit a crime.

Wow. These wouldn't be, by any chance, defense lawyers, would they? And we wouldn't want to infer intent from, say, conversations about plans to blow things up. Because that's just silly.

"Talk without any kind of an action means nothing," said Martin R. Stolar, a New York defense lawyer. "You start to criminalize people who are not really criminals."

Obviously this man has never heard of a little crime called conspiracy. The Times' crack fact-checking staff are obviously all over this one.

But here is where the Times really jumps the shark (and the Blog Princess's head finally explodes):

In the two most recent plots, the authorities have simultaneously warned that the suspects were contemplating horrific attacks — blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago and setting off a bomb in a tunnel between New York and New Jersey — but then added that as far as they knew, no one was close to actually making such a strike.

Let's stop and think about that one for a second. Via Carol Platt Liebau, we catch a glimpse of why the government has chosen this "pre-emptive" strategy. It was, in fact, forced to it by the Times' revelation of our own classified anti-terror programs!

...part of a conspiracy charge often involves the commission of one "overt step" in furtherance of the underlying act around which the conspiracy centers (whether the "overt step" is one of the necessary elements to proving the crime is a legislative choice in federal law). And it's certainly much easier to prove that a crime is being committed (or planned) if there are secret programs in place to track terrorist activities -- the "overt steps" that prove intent without a doubt.

In fact, as this American Spectator story notes, the Bush Administration has now been forced to "bust" suspected terrorists prematurely, taking down just one rather than being able to wait as the suspect reveals more of the terrorist network to which he belongs.

Why? Because, the piece suggests, of The New York Times' revelations about formerly secret classified programs. Terrorists have learned of them, and as a result, the government has lost hitherto-effective ways to keep track of what the terrorist is doing -- terrorists switch techniques, and those tracking them lose evidence of their actions that manifest intent to commit illegal acts.

So to wrap up, let's do as the Times shrilly demanded after 9/11. Let's "connect the dots" on what has happened in the wake of a horrific terrorist attack that killed 3000 innocent American citizens (though in retrospect, Bill Keller will no doubt decide that connecting the dots was a Very Bad Idea too):

1. The New York Times commenced with a lot of arm-waving about who knew what, when, and why more wasn't done about it. Of course, none of this arm-waving was allowed to touch the golden legacy of the Clinton administration, which time and time again had its sights on bin Laden and refused to pull the trigger, with predictable results:

...your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal.

You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.

- Osama bin Laden

But then, as Jack Murtha has publicly noted, Clinton was a man who listened to Congress.

2. The Times provided an uncritical virtual soapbox for men like Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson, though Clarke lied to the 9/11 Commission and to the American people about the administration's response to terrorism, a direct contradiction to his later criticisms and Wilson was later discredited by a Senate Investigation (another fact the Times didn't think the public could be trusted with).

3. Contrary to its current "concern" about privacy, in 2001 the Times criticized the administration for not doing enough to monitor terrorist finances and pressure foreign governments to release information about wire transfers as Clinton had done during peacetime.

4. After the Times blew yet another classified program instead of routing their concerns through the Constitutionally-mandated House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence (which would have ensured oversight and debate without jeopardizing the ongoing investigations, if that indeed is ever what the Times really wanted) they tried to justify their lawbreaking by saying the program "wasn't really secret". Really? Then why did Eric Lichtblau - one of the reporters who broke the story - only seven months before write that the US "had no strategy to track terrorist funding"? Apparently the TimesSelect Wall is the last bastion of secrecy left in America - even the Times' own reporters can't penetrate it.

5. Having stated that their "default" editorial position is never to withold information from the public, the Times (under Bill Keller's leadership) has withheld or buried several important news stories in the past few weeks:

- the discovery that 500 chemical weapons were somehow "overlooked" by UN weapons inspectors (and this is significant because a major tenet of the 'no WMDs' argument is that we should trust the assessment of folks who somehow managed to "miss" 500 chemical munitions in a state the size of California. "Oops!"),

- the announcement that al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade somehow "manufactured" 20 WMDS in the past 3 years and then fired one at Israel last week (Oh! you didn't hear that either?),

- and the news that the FBI foiled a plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel, which the Times only covered in the context of telling us the big, bad government was persecuting harmless crackpots who hadn't done anything... yet.

I don't know about you, but from where I'm sitting the Times long since abandoned its place on the sidelines. Far from covering the news as an impartial, unbiased observer, the Times has waded in and is actively influencing events in the War on Terror. And if you think they are on our side, there is a very large bridge I'd like to sell you.

That is, if some harmless group of non-Muslims doesn't blow it up first.


Posted by Cassandra at July 9, 2006 09:14 AM

Comments

I don't know about you, but from where I'm sitting the Times long since abandoned its place on the sidelines.

You would've thought that if the Times decided to publish Ziggy, though. "The Treacherous Times is at it again! By publishing Ziggy, they've shown their true allegiance" blahblahblah.

Posted by: jpe at July 9, 2006 12:31 PM

Ah, cherie... you are a veritable buffet of manliness! Come closer, and let me inhale the essence of anomie once more!

Posted by: The Stranger at July 9, 2006 01:29 PM

We were for it before we were against it!

Posted by: The Times at July 9, 2006 02:03 PM

I do not subscribe to the Times since they stopped the crayons that came with it. Why don't we start a list of advertisers who use the Times and stop buying their products. It worked for France and Canada.

Posted by: Joe Morrone at July 9, 2006 03:42 PM

Great post. You do a much better job of investigating and breaking the truth than anyone at the NYTimes.

Came here through Powerline. I'll be back.

Posted by: kynna at July 9, 2006 04:46 PM

Ah, jpe, you kid, no? Bill Keller emphatically stated that the NY Times was not neutral in the battle.

Now Ziggie, he is neutral.

Posted by: Moneyrunner at July 9, 2006 04:52 PM

I still haven't quite figured out what Ziggy has to do with any of what I said, but I guess if you can't refute an argument you just bring up something completely unrelated and then throw in a few "blah blahs" for good measure and do your victory dance...:D

And thanks for visiting, kynna!

Posted by: Ziggy's Outraged Great-Aunt Gertie at July 9, 2006 05:02 PM

Powerline and you, for a delightful Sunday read...
please don't stop at the Times.

Posted by: Barrique(from Europe) at July 9, 2006 05:08 PM

Wow, that's a great post. Perhaps the Government had to prematurely cap these plots because... the Times had compromised the very sources and methods used to track the jihadis.

Not exactly calculus, to be sure, but enough to befuddle the geniuses at the Times.

Consider this a manual trackback.

Posted by: directorblue at July 9, 2006 05:11 PM

Hello, I also came here from powerlineblog (my flagship new media) and I am really impressed with your research, analysis and writing. Thanks for putting it together so coherently. How anyone can continue to read the NYT as if it is a news-reporting institution is truly a mystery to moi. Love the logo, Shakespeare quote and the refinement revealed in the French accent. Thank you! You are in my favorites list now!

Posted by: lovestarlings at July 9, 2006 05:51 PM

Ziggy neutral? Neutered maybe, but not neutral, unless you consider communist agitator neutral.

Posted by: The Family Circus at July 9, 2006 05:58 PM

Can't we all just get along?

Posted by: The Neutered at July 9, 2006 06:21 PM

You all are very kind. I don't think I would have been quite so snarky if I'd realized Power Line was going to start that Blog of the Week thing-y today. I thought it would start Monday.

But I got mad, and I just wrote. So I guess you got unvarnished me.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 9, 2006 06:23 PM

Cass, well said. Well said, indeed.

Another thing on the list d-NYt-d us "great unwashed folk" is the rather large category of "Military Heroism (and other Good Works)". IF such things were important, we would be told, N'est ce pas?

Maybe we should spread a rumor that acts of heroism, medals awarded and such are crucial NATIONAL secrets in the GWOT.

Hey Presto! Headlines for all? Yeah... I wish.

Keep up the great work!

Posted by: Jaimo at July 9, 2006 06:44 PM

Hellofa post. May I suggest you create a graphic of dots with taglines from your article? Perhaps they could show something special when connected.

Posted by: wizard61 at July 9, 2006 06:51 PM

Yes, good post. I'm curious if anyone has noted that it was the Daily News broke this story, which is sort of unusual. Nothing against the News, but foreign scoops aren't really their specialty. It would be interesting to know how they came by the story, especially if it was a USG source, in which case it is a pretty significant Bronx Cheer directed at the Old Grey Lady.

Posted by: Lee at July 9, 2006 07:50 PM

Remarkably clear headed and wonderfully written. Thanks to Powerlineblog for my discovery of your blog. I will become a regular reader and pass the good news of your work on to others.

May our Lord bless and keep you and your family.

Posted by: JB at July 9, 2006 08:04 PM

Really, really good writing and just as good thinking (I judge). It seems that the right (aka conservatism)has been outgunned when it comes to quality of writing. This blog appears to help level the field! I am convince3d thatthe NYT has set itself up as an activist publication for the left and we need not expect any evenhandedness anytime soon. It appears they will have to thrash around for money pretty soon. I certainly hope so!

I look forward to reading this blog in the future and if your talent does not dwindle (and it shouldn't) I shall enjoy all I can glean from these pages. Hold the colors high, and keep the pressure up!
Bob Blakely

Posted by: Bob Blakely at July 9, 2006 08:57 PM

You take my breath away, really you do. How do you manage to get to the end of something like that without passing out?

I used to write directly to the ^&$& at the NY Times, but I've come to hate them like they stole my ring! Hatesssssss, yessss...... And so I just stopped even looking.

Ahhh, but it's good to have someone to wanna be like--and you are that for me. No kidding.

Good job. Don't let your head explode though.

Messy.

:-)

V/R
SangerM

Posted by: SangerM at July 9, 2006 09:54 PM

Full disclosure by NYT of their go-to criminal defense lawyers? Martin Stolar just defended a poor, misguided, entrapped, al Qaeda wannabe who was convicted of plotting to blow up NY City landmarks.

Posted by: snapper86 at July 9, 2006 09:59 PM

This may be the best blog post I've ever read. Of course the publisher and his minions in the land of Mordor make it easy for you by being so pathetic, but still, nice takedown.

Posted by: handy at July 10, 2006 08:46 AM

Y'all have got to stop being so nice to me. My regular readers are going to have to be twice as snarky to keep me in line.

Seriously, thank you.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 10, 2006 08:59 AM

Should we start now with the sexual overtones and innuendo? :-o

Posted by: RegularGuy at July 10, 2006 09:18 AM

Oh, like you ever stopped, mon petit chien?

Posted by: Cassandra at July 10, 2006 09:20 AM

[shaking head]

Posted by: Cassandra at July 10, 2006 09:21 AM

SangerM, I think it's pure, unvented spleen :D That, and a highly suspect mixture of Celtic blood and unadulterated BS, largely encouraged by the local knavery.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 10, 2006 09:23 AM

Okay, so which has the local knavery been encouraging--the highly suspect Celtic blood or the unadulterated BS? Or is the BS actually adulterated with generous dollops of Celtic Crossing? And is the local knavery actually local in the geographic sense or in the other side of the blogwall sense?

To quote the late, great Lou Costello, "I'm soooo confused..."

*grin*

Posted by: BillT at July 10, 2006 09:20 PM

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