In short: The press isn’t neutral in the war on terror. If they were, would they cover it?
More fancy thinkin’ this morning, this time on Face the Nation. Spruiell has fun with BK’s apparent belief that while no Americans knew about this program, all terrorists everywhere did. Another contradiction is between his de facto admission that the program was above board and his insistence that Bush was “embarrassed” by its exposure. Note to Keller: That wasn’t embarrassment. It was anger.
Jeff Jarvis wants newspaper editors to issue guidelines setting out in advance the circumstances under which they’ll expose covert ops. Jarvis quite reasonably draws the line at illegality or gross incompetence. Keller’s standard, judging from the clip, would make any exercise of executive power fair game, regardless of its effectiveness or legality, unless every member of Congress has been briefed about it (some members of Congress were briefed about the SWIFT program so obviously selective briefings aren’t good enough) or unless the probability of people dying as a result of its exposure is exceptionally high. It boils down to the media’s belief that America, to borrow a phrase from our friend Andrew, is a “rogue nation” under Bush and therefore public oversight of his every move is necessary.
Anyway, here’s the clip. I had to edit it down pretty heavily to get it into the ballpark of fair use, including snipping the part where he says he’d publish the story again if given the chance to do it over. If you want to subject yourself to the whole eleven-minute clip, Ian’s got it. Mine picks up with him talking about the SWIFT program in the context of the NSA wiretap story, and how it’s all “part of a pattern”:
Ian’s also got video of Hugh Hewitt taking on Eric Lichtblau this morning on Reliable Sources. E&P has a precis of Frank Rich’s attempt to dismiss the controversy as Republicans demagoging the media in an election year, a refrain also sung (partially) by Keller himself. And Outside the Beltway has video of Dana Priest being confronted about leaks by Bill Bennett on Meet the Press this morning — and responding with a cheap shot about Bennett’s gambling.
Update: FYI, I included the bit where he talks about John Snow taking the media on a terror-finance tour a few years ago because he mentioned it in his op-ed with Baquet, too. Clearly he thinks it’s very important. But why? No one claims the administration has tried to keep secret the fact that it’s monitoring financial transactions; the secret is how they’re doing it. Or was, I should say. The Keller/Baquet piece insists that Snow talked about “sensitive details” about the program “hoping they would appear in print and demonstrate the administration’s relentlessness against the terrorist threat.” Really?? Snow hoped the sensitive details would be printed? Or merely the fact that they’d gone to such lengths to track the money?
Patterico watched the clip and sounds like he’s ready to start issuing subpoenas.
Update: David Frum lists the sensitive details that every terrorist in the world absolutely, unquestionably knew before the Times published its piece.