Should CNN have read Stevens’ journal?

posted at 6:31 pm on September 23, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

This story has already been making the rounds this weekend, but it’s worth a look more from the perspective of media responsibility and ethics than studying the actual events in Benghazi. CNN has already come clean and admitted that their reporters found the charred remains of the personal journal of Ambassador Chris Stevens in the burned out frame of the consulate.

Three days after he was killed, CNN found a journal belonging to late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded.

CNN notified Stevens’ family about the journal within hours after it was discovered and at the family’s request provided it to them via a third party.

The journal consists of just seven pages of handwriting in a hard-bound book.

When you tell the story that way, it sounds like no harm, no foul, right? Journal found… family contacted…. journal returned. But, as the Lonely Conservative notes, there were a few more stops on this particular train route than CNN fesses up to.

[T]he Stevens family asked CNN not to report on information found in the dead man’s diary – but of course CNN did it anyway. Anderson Cooper was part of the sick cabal responsible.

Family members and State Department officials said CNN agreed during the Sept. 14 conference call to hold off on using the diary until the family had a chance to review its contents.

But family members and U.S. officials were surprised when CNN anchor Anderson Cooper appeared to use the information from the journal by attributing it to a source familiar with Mr. Stevens’s thinking.

In that broadcast, Mr. Cooper said the ambassador was worried about security threats in Benghazi and said he believed he was on an al Qaeda hit list.

A spokesperson for CNN said the network didn’t report directly from the journal, but corroborated the information through other sources.

According to the linked WSJ article, the State Department revealed that it took “repeated prodding” to get CNN to return the journal to the family, and calls for them to hold off on using the information within were clearly ignored. Unless, of course, you accept Anderson Cooper’s explanation that “confirming” the information in the journal with “sources familiar with the Ambassador’s thinking” qualifies as not using it.

Where can we expect the media to draw the line on something like this? Is the personal journal of a dead man not off bounds? (Though clearly the State Department deserved a look at it.) A private journal is not some official government document obtained through a Freedom of Information request. And they can’t claim that it’s the same as an interview. (I’ve done more than a few myself.) When a reporter wants to ask about your private musings, you can refuse. Or, at a minimum, insist that the conversation is off the record. Ambassador Stevens had no such opportunity. CNN tore into his book, whipped out their cell phones and began getting ready to go to press over the objections of the dead man’s family.

At what point can the public, if not the government, cry foul over something like this? I got into a bit of an argument with my friend Doug Mataconis over that question when the story broke. In the discussion, he voiced the opinion that the contents of the journal were newsworthy, and as such, it might be irresponsible of CNN to not use it. We agreed to disagree, but he penned a lengthy piece on it later.

CNN is getting hammered for using the diary as a news source rather than giving it to the family as they requested or, as some have suggested, turning it over the government as “evidence” in the terror attack. It’s very tempting to be sympathetic to Stevens’ family and to argue that the journal should have been returned to them immediately. However, there’s also the fact that that Stevens’ journal apparently did contain material indicating the Ambassador’s concerns regarding the security situation for American diplomats in Libya as well as warning of attacks and security threats in the Benghazi area and elsewhere. These concerns were apparently corroborated by other information obtained by CNN reporters on the ground. Doesn’t this make at least this part of the journal newsworthy? If an Ambassador in a nation like Libya is expressing private concerns about his own security in the weeks and months before his death, isn’t that relevant information that the American public should know as we continue to uncover exactly what happened on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi? I understand the people who are sympathetic to the wishes of Stevens’ family and the idea that they should have been followed, but it strikes me that there are other obligations that journalists owe to their audience, and it strikes me that CNN would have been doing a disservice by choosing not to report this information.

As to the argument that this is “evidence”, I’m not really sure what it would be evidence of unless Stevens was writing a contemporaneous account of the attack while hiding in the Consulate, which doesn’t appear to be the case. Furthermore, even if it is “evidence,” it’s also newsworthy and, unless it involved something secret that would have jeopardized an investigation, or jeopardized lives, I don’t see the “evidence” argument as one that should have precluded CNN from making the information public.

I just don’t see it that way. If there were information in there critical to national security and of value to the public, the proper route would have been to simply allow State to handle the pages and determine how much to give out at a press briefing, hopefully respecting the wishes of the family. In this case, I think there is still a line of decency which professional journalists should observe. And in this case, it was crossed.


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A few days ago on Ace, commenter Optimizer posted the following list of absurb things we’ve been asked to believe since 9/11/12:

1) Ambassador was killed by”spontaneous” protestors with RPGs, mortars, and machine guns.

2) “Low profile” security in Benghazi was OK (in an area where random people allegedly walk around with RPGs, etc), despite recent attacks and warnings, and in no way reflects on Hillary, who is responsible for security there, even though sensitive intelligence information was also compromised.

3) The Egyptian failure to provide security, which resulted in our Embassy being breached, is not a reflection on what they think of the US or its President.

4) The President is not responsible for embassy statements, even though representing the US is literally their job, and he personally appointed the ambassador. Obama apparently heads a different US govt than they do.

5) Crowds screaming “Death to America” in 22 countries does not relect an anti-American sentiment that would imply that US standing in the Arab world is the same as before or worse.

6) The existence of a short, amateurish, and obscure video clip is a reasonable reason for rioting, and said rioting is the fault of said clip’s author, not of the rioters.

7) It is complete coincidence that it was 9/11, despite said clip being out for months.

8 ) There is a timeline for disputing US statements disrespecting free speech, and not following it is a “gaffe”.

9) It’s OK for the Pres to head off to fundraise in Vegas, and have his national security briefings mailed in, after the killing of a US ambassador, and during multiple attacks on US soil at various US embassies.

10) Bringing a guy in for questioning after midnight, surrounded by a dozen law enforcement officers and multiple news crews is a perfectly reasonable way to look into a sudden interest in possible white-collar parole violations, it is a complete coincidence that said individual had just appeared in the news for doing something that was completely legal, and it was no way an attempt to bully or intidate anybody out of their free speech rights by the very same authorities who are supposed to be defending them.

Mayday on September 23, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Anyone else think there’s more to this story? With bonus Fast & Furious info.

Naturally Curly on September 23, 2012 at 7:09 PM

I read these guys occasionally. Is there any veracity to them? I’m one hundred percent on board with Stevens being an arms negotiator or some other secret agent set up to take a fall. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

tom daschle concerned on September 23, 2012 at 7:20 PM

I’m a believer. Go back and read through the reports since shortly after Jug-ears was immaculated. Pretty much everything he said has come to pass. EVERYTHING.

Naturally Curly on September 23, 2012 at 7:27 PM

While I agree that the family should have been given the journal. I would have to imagine that State had access to the consulate between the time of the attack and whenever cnn got apparently unfettered access to the site.

If so, CNN could have assumed that they didn’t want anything they left abandoned on site.

oconp88 on September 23, 2012 at 7:27 PM

No ambassadors were killed during Watergate.

There is something dreadfully wrong here and it’s NOT CNN’s reporting abot this journal.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:22 PM

No $hit.

Fast and Furious: 2 American LEO’s and 200+ plus Mexican citizens dead.

Libya: 1 Ambassador and 3 other American Citizen Dead.

Seal Team 6: 25 United States Navy Seal’s Dead.

Nothing to see here, move along…

SWalker on September 23, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Also, if CNN got this journal three days after the attack, who got what right after it and had the time and ability to go through it for the two days before CNN showed up?

UnderstandingisPower on September 23, 2012 at 7:27 PM

The Obama administration KEPT repeating ad nauseam that this was a criminal act and was “being investigated.” So you’re telling me that the United States federal government took THREE DAYS of investigations AT THEIR OWN CONSULATE that was NOT SECURED and did not find this journal?

NONE OF THAT MAKES ANY SENSE!

Does it?

Please, if it makes sense to you, explain it to me because I’m lost!

UnderstandingisPower on September 23, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Thanks for putting that together.
I hadn’t.
Something smells rotten.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Creepy, wrong, invasive. That poor man suffered to an extent we can only imagine in our worst nightmares. CNN deserves to be ripped for it’s newfound journalistic “integrity”. (snicker)

BUT, I have to ask- Why does anyone keep a journal? It’s like a sex tape- it’s going to come out. At the very least, keep it on a private blog that you have the password for. I hate that this mans thoughts and feelings are going to be public fodder.

BettyRuth on September 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM

This doesn’t sound like it’s that kind of “journal”,the kind that would have tawdry personal information. This sounds more like a written record of concerns related to his job and posting that he was keeping separately from his computer files. That alone is an interesting thing, because people like Ambassador Stevens are typically quite busy and would more likely use a laptop or other computer device to keep such records. Now, it could be that he traveled with a journal because he could take it everywhere, whereas he could not with a laptop, so that might be the simple explanation.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:28 PM

I’m a believer. Go back and read through the reports since shortly after Jug-ears was immaculated. Pretty much everything he said has come to pass. EVERYTHING.

Naturally Curly on September 23, 2012 at 7:27 PM

That is what scares me most. :/

tom daschle concerned on September 23, 2012 at 7:29 PM

How does a journalist find it 3 days later? What kind of military/security investigatory team was sent that did not discover it themselves? What am I missing here?

hillsoftx on September 23, 2012 at 6:55 PM

The ‘investigation’ is a scam, made up to give little Bammie an excuse to say “we cannot provide any further information because this case is under investigation”.

slickwillie2001 on September 23, 2012 at 7:29 PM

BUT, I have to ask- Why does anyone keep a journal? It’s like a sex tape- it’s going to come out. At the very least, keep it on a private blog that you have the password for. I hate that this mans thoughts and feelings are going to be public fodder.

BettyRuth on September 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM

When I was growing up behind the Iron Curtain, we couldn’t keep journals because if found by the State, our words could be misconstrued and used against us.

Two months after the fall of Communism, I started keeping a journal and have barely missed a day putting something in it. My travels, people I’ve met, the weather blah, blah blah. Boring stuff to most, but probably interesting to whomever finds them once I’m dead.

JPeterman on September 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM

I’ve been thinking a resounding HECK NO to that question ever since I first heard about this. In what world is is proper to go rooting through a dead mans personal property for a scoop, not only without any kind of permission, but actually in the face of the family’s request that they not use it as a source? People should be fired for this.

AndStatistics on September 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Yes. Across the bottom of the screen: “TO DONATE $10 text 1234 to 5678!”

Naturally Curly on September 23, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Hey! I tried that, it doesn’t work! What gives? /s /s

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:31 PM

What about this? If the US found the ‘journal’, would the journal have to be kept by the government?

IOW, was this a maneuver to keep the journal from being seen by anyone else? Ever.

IOW, did Hillary give the journal to CNN to get rid of it?

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

People should be fired for this.

AndStatistics on September 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM

In a sane world that is exactly what would happen, we however clearly do not live in a sane world, instead, propaganda merchants in the Fifth Column Treasonous Media will receive promotions for this.

SWalker on September 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

People should be fired for this.

AndStatistics on September 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Yeah, Hillary, Susan Rice and Barack Hussein Obama!

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

An ambassador might not have wanted terrorists to know he was worried, this can embolden AQ.

amazingmets on September 23, 2012 at 7:25 PM

I suspect that Al Qaeda knows that Stevens was worried about them given that they murdered him on the streets of Benghazi. How much bolder do you think they are going to get with this journal information revealed?

sharrukin on September 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Of course, Steven’s was worried. SOmeone was leaking his whereabouts to AQ.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:34 PM

This doesn’t sound like it’s that kind of “journal”,the kind that would have tawdry personal information. This sounds more like a written record of concerns related to his job and posting that he was keeping separately from his computer files.
AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Ok, so is this really a personal journal or something akin to work notes? I mean who writes a diary at work? I know his home is his work, but that’s a personal choice that comes with its own consequences.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Friendly or not, the Libyans should not have had access to the remains of our personnel. If they did, then the leadership was asleep at the switch and that is a crying shame.

ted c on September 23, 2012 at 6:54 PM

There was a video posted shortly after the attack of the bodies of the 4 Americans in the Libyan morgue. I didn’t watch it. Can’t verify if it was or even looked like them, but I do remember seeing that reported, with a posting of the video for those with the stomach to see it. So clearly the remains were in the hands of the Libyans not our government for at least awhile.

UnderstandingisPower on September 23, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Yes they should… he was a civil servant on duty for the government and the details within were certainly newsworthy and pertinent to his death. Whatsmore the fact the family wants the info hidden is pretty incredulous.

Kaptain Amerika on September 23, 2012 at 7:35 PM

It was appropriate for CNN to use the journal. The government has been lying about this incident from the beginning. Why should they be permitted to claim the Ambassador was comfortable with security. Had they published private, irrelevant information regarding his sex life- that would have been wrong.

D.L.Mc on September 23, 2012 at 7:35 PM

I think CNN should have copied the journal and then waited to see what the investigation reported. When this first happened I felt that CNN should have turned it over to the authorities doing the investigation immediately but now I find that I distrust on so many levels. I never thought it should have been turned over directly to the family. The fact that Obama is getting a pass on the facts already public is maddening.

Cindy Munford on September 23, 2012 at 7:35 PM

AndStatistics on September 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM

I’ll say it agan: If the administration abdicates its responsibility to investigate, and CNN pays for evidence that puts the lie to the official account, and doesn’t reveal personal information that is not pertinent to the international event, this seems less like journalistic malfeasance than like doing the job the government refuses to do.

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 7:35 PM

this seems less like journalistic malfeasance than like doing the job the government refuses to do.

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Precisely why I insist on calling them the Fifth Column Treasonous Media.

SWalker on September 23, 2012 at 7:37 PM

If this were a Republicam administration we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

steveracer on September 23, 2012 at 7:38 PM

I’ve been thinking a resounding HECK NO to that question ever since I first heard about this. In what world is is proper to go rooting through a dead mans personal property for a scoop, not only without any kind of permission, but actually in the face of the family’s request that they not use it as a source? People should be fired for this.

AndStatistics on September 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Well, to be fair, since this was “found” on Consulate Grounds (accepting the premise for now), this was found on US soil, and not on private property. The fact that Stevens was the journal keeper does not imply that it was his personal property, particularly if he was keeping this journal in his position as Ambassador. So it’s kind of a stretch to describe it as personal property. The journal book itself may have been government issued, thus is definitely not personal property.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

But a piece of paper isn’t a private diary.

I don’t know – I’m torn on this. Like I said I hate this administration and I want them taken to task for this but it just bothers me that something private was taken and used in this way.

gophergirl on September 23, 2012 at 7:10 PM

a private letter is just as private. And they would have to read something to know what it was. I say they had to tell the people what was in it. I guess they could have give State a chance to release it, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

Ampersand on September 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Creepy, wrong, invasive. That poor man suffered to an extent we can only imagine in our worst nightmares. CNN deserves to be ripped for it’s newfound journalistic “integrity”. (snicker)

BUT, I have to ask- Why does anyone keep a journal? It’s like a sex tape- it’s going to come out. At the very least, keep it on a private blog that you have the password for. I hate that this mans thoughts and feelings are going to be public fodder.

BettyRuth on September 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM

~~~~~

Most would-be celebrities WANT their stupid sex tapes to be made public. Could be he did so fully knowing that things would be revealed if he was killed. My heart goes out to Amb. Stevens and the other men who were killed, they seem to me to be all but forgotten in this story, but I think the public definitely has a right to know what happened, and anything that can shed light on it while also protecting any personal aspects of Amb. Stevens life needs to be out there…God knows this shameful administration is certainly not going to be clear with the public.

ellifint on September 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Per CNN…

For CNN, the ambassador’s writings served as tips about the situation in Libya, and in Benghazi in particular. CNN took the newsworthy tips and corroborated them with other sources.

A source familiar with Stevens’ thinking told CNN earlier this week that, in the months leading up to his death, the late ambassador worried about what he called the security threats in Benghazi and a rise in Islamic extremism.

My guess is that there is much, much more detail to this. Exact threats, days, and people? Hillary telling him that he doesn’t need security? Obama telling him???

Hillary gave this journal to CNN to get rid of it.

Now, nobody will ever see those 7 pages.

Congress should demand these 7 pages from CNN.

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

In a sane world that is exactly what would happen, we however clearly do not live in a sane world, instead, propaganda merchants in the Fifth Column Treasonous Media will receive promotions for this.

SWalker on September 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Too many of the players in this have a stench about them.
This is one twisted situation. Morally it’s wrong to read this man personal effects, but I’ll ask again, was it illegal?

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 7:40 PM

But a piece of paper isn’t a private diary.

I don’t know – I’m torn on this. Like I said I hate this administration and I want them taken to task for this but it just bothers me that something private was taken and used in this way.

gophergirl on September 23, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Actually the right to privacy attaches to the person — when the person is dead, there is no more right to privacy — and the right certainly doesn’t transfer to his heirs and/or family. Furthermore, we don’t even know if it contained personal (as opposed to professional) information — personal information wasn’t revealed about his love life or something like that — only information relative to the situation that killed him — and he was an US ambassador killed in a terrorist attack, which means information (from whatever source) leading up to that event should be public. Heck, from what we know, this could have been a professional diary & the State Dept. is lying to imply that it was personal diary to misled us about its contents (wouldn’t be the first time they’ve lied to us in the last 2 weeks to cover up what happened in Libya). So, I’m not so quick to characterize this as a “private” diary in the first place.

Dark Star on September 23, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Mayday on September 23, 2012 at 7:22 PM

I thought about that too…what if the state dept is hiding something more sinister, and the whole thing with cnn finding that journal is just a way to distract from whatever the real sinister business was. I mean it has to be something really bad, a real screw up of gigantic proportions, if the state dept prefers and pushes a scenario in which it comes across as incompetent. But then what is it? Spy, terrorim stuff, both…Or Stevens inadvertently uncovered some dealings between our govt and god knows what entity that could have been potentially an explosive story? Funny thing is I am the furthest away from conspiracy theory person one can think of, but somehow this story doesn’t ad up…his death, now te diary, people (security details) not being where they were supposed to be, and others (the navy seals who died) being where they weren’t supposed to be normally…

jimver on September 23, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Just another cynical thought. If Stevens thought he was being set up, what if he had placed that journal in safe keeping with someone to be released in the event of his death? Perhaps with specific instructions given in how to release it without compromising his confidant? He places the journal in a pre-arranged location prior to high risk trips and keeps writing in it as long as he comes back. Upon his death, the release process is executed and CNN miraculously finds this in the rubble three days after the attack and after looters, AQ, and the Libyan government had gone through the site.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM

If this were a Republicam administration we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

steveracer on September 23, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Not sure exactly what you meant, but intel would not have been ignored and security would have been stronger. Maybe they would have had some damn bullets.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Day 1: “We found the WMDs”
Day 2: “We were told not to mention it”

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 7:46 PM

If this were a Republicam administration we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

steveracer on September 23, 2012 at 7:38 PM

If a republican was in the WH, the diary would have been published on the front page of every newspaper in the country.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:47 PM

You’re expecting ethics from the same organization that stayed in Saddam’s Iraq to report his propaganda?

Really?

CNN has no standards they can’t dig under. That is why they won’t tell you what their ethical standards are… they hate that work of digging under them so better to have none at all.

ajacksonian on September 23, 2012 at 7:47 PM

I just don’t see it that way. If there were information in there critical to national security and of value to the public, the proper route would have been to simply allow State to handle the pages and determine how much to give out at a press briefing, hopefully respecting the wishes of the family. In this case, I think there is still a line of decency which professional journalists should observe. And in this case, it was crossed.

Jazz Shaw, the statist lapdog once again coming down on government’s side.

Dante on September 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

“private Diary” makes the US Ambassador sound like a teenage girl with a crush in her geometry class. This was a journal, a day log, of a public servant with job related info.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail — unless you’re at war.

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Jazz, this time I disagree with you. After the lies and obfuscation that we have seen since the attacks, ANYTHING (or almost – and I apologize for using all caps) that casts light on the disgusting behavior of this criminal enterprise administration is newsworthy.

bville 13027 on September 23, 2012 at 7:50 PM

I am still reading comments on page one, but isn’t it just lovely that we actually cannot trust anyone in this? Not CNN. Not our government. And not the family. Stop the world. I want to get off!

francesca on September 23, 2012 at 7:50 PM

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 7:49 PM

We’re at war. This is related to a terrorist attack and an Administration cover-up of huge proportions.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Just another cynical thought. If Stevens thought he was being set up, what if he had placed that journal in safe keeping with someone to be released in the event of his death? Perhaps with specific instructions given in how to release it without compromising his confidant? He places the journal in a pre-arranged location prior to high risk trips and keeps writing in it as long as he comes back. Upon his death, the release process is executed and CNN miraculously finds this in the rubble three days after the attack and after looters, AQ, and the Libyan government had gone through the site.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM

~~~~~

Wow, that sounds really plausible. Scary, actually, but it does make a lot of sense and helps to explain how the diary could have possibly gone unnoticed for three days. This administration gets NO benefit of the doubt from me…and as Dark Star said, this could have been some kind of official ledger or diary, and the State Department could be lying…why should anyone trust anything this administration says?

ellifint on September 23, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Sorry, Jazz, I’m with CNN on this one…

Post all the journal pages online and in public… the right of privacy died with him…

Khun Joe on September 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

This ‘journal’ had to disappear before the FBI arrived

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Sorry, but this closing almost caused me to choke with laughter:

…allow State to handle the pages and determine how much to give out at a press briefing…

Now we’re so intent on lambasting CNN that we look to the State Department (read: Hillary and Barack) to parse the piece and then to hand out whatever they like at a “press conference.” That is simply nonsensical. It’s okay for the State Department to release whatever they want at a press conference but it’s not okay for the press to report what’s in it on its own? Honestly? The same State Department that hasn’t told the truth, yet, about the incident?

I have no problem whatsoever with a news agency going to the site of a terrorist attack, finding a notebook with writing in it attributable to a public official who was killed in the attack, and opening the notebook, reading its contents and reporting anything in it that relates to the public activities of that official. I’m not really sure under what rule, law, or even code of journalistic conduct this action would be inappropriate. Quite the opposite.

Now, I can see why Hillary and Barack would not want it known that Ambassador Stevens was concerned about his security, but why we would not want it known is a mystery. Consider this, as well. I doubt that whoever actually found this notebook would or could have known its significance or to whom it belonged until after they opened it and read its contents.

You’re suggesting that, having the information, CNN should have suppressed it. That is a very odd position to take, unless we just can’t stand CNN to the point that anything they do it suspect.

IndieDogg on September 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

This ‘journal’ had to disappear before the FBI arrived

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Thank God it disappeared before the administration got it.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:54 PM

This is one twisted situation. Morally it’s wrong to read this man personal effects, but I’ll ask again, was it illegal?

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 7:40 PM

One of the problems here is what people are hearing when they hear the word “journal” or “diary”. When hearing those words, people automatically associate that with a “dear diary” personal heartthrob kind of writing.

Many people keep journals of their work. I know that I do so; in the past, I used spiral bound notebooks or bound journal books in the past, now I use a computer file. Over the past 30 years, I have filled in dozens of these books. The information written in that journal consists of notes, technical outlines, planning activities, and a record of progress and activities. Since these notebooks are not officially entered into a company archival system because they don’t rise to the need for such archival, they would be labeled as “personal journals”. However, they are all work-related, not personal as in “personal private life”. It sounds like this is the kind of “journal” the ambassador was keeping. If so, then this isn’t a violation of any of his personal life and, as a government employee, this is actually something that should be public record since it would not be classified information written into a book not properly labeled as such and properly secured.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:55 PM

A source familiar with Stevens’ thinking told CNN earlier this week that, in the months leading up to his death, the late ambassador worried about what he called the security threats in Benghazi and a rise in Islamic extremism.

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

The “source” was Stevens’ own diary, not some individual CNN interviewed off the record. It misled viewers.

While CNN may have been doing the public a service by disclosing some of what Stevens’ diary contained, it did not act nobly by pretending that it had an independent, flesh-and-blood source “familiar with Stevens’ thinking.” Its behaviour in this regard is an abomination.

Resist We Much on September 23, 2012 at 7:55 PM

IndieDogg on September 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Yes. Hillary and Barack wouuld have had a forgery made about some youtube video, some free speech, that Stevens detested and just might set the world to flames.

Anderson Cooper deserves thans for this.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:56 PM

What the hell were the US Embassy personnel in Tripoli doing? What about CENTCOM personnel? The CENTCOM commander sure as hell has the RIGHT and RESPONSIBILITY to secure a scene like this, even if by forced entry capability, and safeguard all sensitive information–starting with the corpses of 4 Americans. Friendly or not, the Libyans should not have had access to the remains of our personnel. If they did, then the leadership was asleep at the switch and that is a crying shame.

ted c on September 23, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Ted- I agree, but Libya falls under AFRICOM. I also would like to know why Stevens was in Benghazi with very little, if at all, security. I have a very good idea, but waiting for the real reason to come out. A needless tragedy…

Static21 on September 23, 2012 at 7:56 PM

So CNN baited the O with a “source”. Maybe to see the response they would get? Because Hillary and O could not refute Stevens in this matter. Cooper made them look even skeevier than they were.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Most likely scenario:

1. Stevens’ work journal included notes on specific threats, CIA ops, candid comments on Hillary

2. Hillary had the ‘journal’ from Day 1

3. Hillary had to get rid of it, since Obama was sending the FBI

4. Eureka! Call Anderson Cooper, tell him what to say.

5. Viola! Journal disappears.

6. Pundits on the right chase memes and squirrels (as usual).

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Of course they shouldn’t have read the journal. Did it belong to them? Did they have permission to go dumpster diving at the compound and take whatever they found? Who knows what else they came home with. Are they working with militia or rebels or Al Qaeda over there or were they given passes to go on the premises? The family asked them not to use it and they used it anyway? Who the hell do they think they are? And why wasn’t the State Department on top of securing the premises so this wouldn’t happen? It was a friggin crime scene where 4 of our citizens were murdered in cold blood. I guess they handled the aftermath about as well as they handled their security in the first place. You can expect the lowest rated cable outlet to do something despicable to get a story, but the State Department shouldn’t have allowed it to happen in the first place. OUR people should have been over there and cordoned off the site. It was OUR Embassy.

scalleywag on September 23, 2012 at 7:59 PM

This is one twisted situation. Morally it’s wrong to read this man personal effects, but I’ll ask again, was it illegal?

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 7:40 PM

The diary, Stevens’ personal property, became part of his estate immediately upon his death. If CNN agreed to turn the diary over to the family and not report on its contents, then did so, the family would have a cause of action based upon breach of contract and, perhaps, torts such as mental anguish, etc.

I don’t know if it was illegal. The press has fairly broad freedoms and this did not occur in the US although CNN does claim that it came into possession of the diary on American soil, i.e., the consulate grounds.

The bottom line is that it is unlikely to be illegal, but may be actionable in a civil court.

Resist We Much on September 23, 2012 at 7:59 PM

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Right. We are at war, and our own government is lying to us. CNN made money giving us a hint that the lie was a lie. Even if the journal had been a private journal filled with trist stories. I can’t fault CNN for revealing what they did.

If the government had been doing its job, then CNN would have been perhaps out of line. But they weren’t, and they weren’t.

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Not a chance, faraway. Hillary was on the video page right along with the rest of them. This lie hurts her, plenty

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Maybe CNN could do something constructive like… find out WHY Stephens was there with so few people in an unarmored vehicle and going to a ‘safe house’ that all the jihadis knew about.

Oh, wait, this is CNN, the most busted name in news.

They aren’t interested in reporting any more, just handing out a story… so many stories, so few facts.

ajacksonian on September 23, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Now we’re so intent on lambasting CNN that we look to the State Department (read: Hillary and Barack) to parse the piece and then to hand out whatever they like at a “press conference.” That is simply nonsensical. …

I have no problem whatsoever with a news agency going to the site of a terrorist attack, finding a notebook with writing in it attributable to a public official who was killed in the attack, and opening the notebook, reading its contents and reporting anything in it that relates to the public activities of that official. …

IndieDogg on September 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Right now, this appears to be CNN engaging in a random act of journalism. I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around that to be honest, so I keep looking for their angle in which this helps the current administration. So far I’m coming up blank.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 8:01 PM

I just can’t believe that getting thruth to the public about this is “despicable” in any way. As long as it was Libyan officials v the administration, there was hope for O to stick with his story. Stevens is the best witness against the lies we could have hoped for. This was meant to be found and read.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:03 PM

And why wasn’t the State Department on top of securing the premises so this wouldn’t happen?

You can expect the lowest rated cable outlet to do something despicable to get a story, but the State Department shouldn’t have allowed it to happen in the first place.

scalleywag on September 23, 2012 at 7:59 PM

You are placing a great deal of trust in a State Department that has lied repeatedly.

sharrukin on September 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Right now, this appears to be CNN engaging in a random act of journalism. I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around that to be honest, so I keep looking for their angle in which this helps the current administration. So far I’m coming up blank.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Occam’s razor.

JPeterman on September 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Jazz Shaw, the statist lapdog once again coming down on government’s side.

Lew Rockwell Junior on September 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

“I Don’t Believe The Judge!”

Del Dolemonte on September 23, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail — unless you’re at war.

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 7:49 PM

This

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Follow the journal.

The journal was hidden for 4 days, now it is ‘hidden’ again.

Someone doesn’t want us to see the journal.

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 8:07 PM

sharrukin on September 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

The State Department is part of the problem here.We can reasonably assume they knew Stevens was worried about his safety.. for months. And yet nothing is done and this lie about some first grade quality video fills the newscasts.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Just another cynical thought. If Stevens thought he was being set up, what if he had placed that journal in safe keeping with someone to be released in the event of his death? Perhaps with specific instructions given in how to release it without compromising his confidant? He places the journal in a pre-arranged location prior to high risk trips and keeps writing in it as long as he comes back. Upon his death, the release process is executed and CNN miraculously finds this in the rubble three days after the attack and after looters, AQ, and the Libyan government had gone through the site.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM

That actually makes more sense than the “official” story.

UnderstandingisPower on September 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM

The information written in that journal consists of notes, technical outlines, planning activities, and a record of progress and activities. Since these notebooks are not officially entered into a company archival system because they don’t rise to the need for such archival, they would be labeled as “personal journals”.

And if you left the company and if your company is anything like mine then I’m certain they wouldn’t want you taking them with you to a competitor.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Sorry forgot to quote that AZ’s

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:10 PM

The State Department is part of the problem here.We can reasonably assume they knew Stevens was worried about his safety.. for months. And yet nothing is done and this lie about some first grade quality video fills the newscasts.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:07 PM

They are indeed part of the problem.

I cannot understand why they didn’t see to the security concerns because a failure wasn’t going to make them, or the intervention look good.

sharrukin on September 23, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Well, to be fair, since this was “found” on Consulate Grounds (accepting the premise for now), this was found on US soil, and not on private property. [...]
AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Well, since the State Department says that they won’t answer questions due to the “ongoing FBI investigation”, then wasn’t the journal found, by default, at a crime scene? Isn’t there something in the law about non LEO’s removing evidence from criminal investigations? And if it was a crime scene (it was) then why was the area “unsecured”? So is there an actual, you know, “professional” investigation going on there, or what?

bofh on September 23, 2012 at 8:11 PM

That actually makes more sense than the “official” story.

UnderstandingisPower on September 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM

If so Cooper is protecting his source. I congratulate hiim for that. He’ll need this source later and I hope he’s keeping his own documentation. The “diary” is documentation, a record, evidence.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Should Stevens have kept an unencrypted “journal”?

It is pure foolishness if he did.

profitsbeard on September 23, 2012 at 8:11 PM

The bottom line is that it is unlikely to be illegal, but may be actionable in a civil court.

Resist We Much on September 23, 2012 at 7:59 PM

I’m kind of a stickler for the legal aspects whenever the discussion goes moral.
Nation of laws or a nation of nothing.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM

How about just using the info as ‘leads’ and then looking for two LIVING sources to back them up so you don’t have to refer to the journal AT ALL? CNN could get the information, treat it as needing two independent sources to back it up, hand the journal over to the family and then see if anything in the journal could fit the assassination into a larger picture.

Unfortunately that takes journalists with ethics.

Not Democratic operatives with bylines.

ajacksonian on September 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Color me cynical on both sides of this story.

I find it hard to believe that this journal was “found.” I’m with JPeterman on this. I think the journal was “bought.” It leads me to suspect that there are other documents for sale from the consulate that are held by Libyan nationals who retrieved items before the site was secured (if it ever was.)

I find it difficult to believe ANYTHING that the State Department has to say about this incident. Their lack of credibility rivals that of the media. The story they are putting out and their eagerness to label it “disgusting” makes me think that they are in CYA mode full blown. Why? See end of paragraph two.

DrStock on September 23, 2012 at 8:14 PM

…and CNN miraculously finds this in the rubble three days after the attack and after looters, AQ, and the Libyan government had gone through the site.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM

I don’t think CNN could find its azz with both hands and a flashlight. My bet is that they BOUGHT the journal from one of the looters, AQ and/or the Libyan government. Took several days to reach an agreement.

bofh on September 23, 2012 at 8:15 PM

I once found Christy Brinkley’s driver’s license on the sidewalk. I looked at it, determined it was a license, determined the name, took note of the address, and sent her ID to her listed address. (It’s not my fault that while looking at the ID I saw her birthdate.)

The guy who picked up/purchased the journal didn’t know all that it really was until he read at least part of it. Maybe the penciled-in name written on the inside, maybe the notification “Property of the US Government”, maybe the fact that it reads like an SOS rather than a Danielle Steel novel.

Once he knows the contents, and determines that it is government related, and that it contradicts that government’s narrative, what’s he supposed to do?

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 8:15 PM

So is there an actual, you know, “professional” investigation going on there, or what?

bofh on September 23, 2012 at 8:11 PM

There is nothing “professional” about any of this.
What else is new with the would be king?

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:15 PM

I’m a believer. Go back and read through the reports since shortly after Jug-ears was immaculated. Pretty much everything he said has come to pass. EVERYTHING.

Naturally Curly on September 23, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Don’t know where I first heard of The Ulsterman Report, but I try to look at it a couple times a week. Sobering and scary.

There was another article — can’t remember where I read it, whether it was at Ulsterman or elsewhere — but it suggested something not too far off from a Fast and Furious-type operation in the Middle East, with none other than our own homegrown Leftist creeps Bill Ayers and Wade Rathke, et. al. at the center of it. The article went on to say that these people have been part of the Palestinian flotilla efforts and other agitation in the Middle East, so it presumably isn’t a big leap to suspect that they are also funneling arms to the terrorists as well.

And we should all keep in mind what the end game of the International Left is.

PatriotGal2257 on September 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM

This is so not the work of a “democratic operative”.

Remind me if I think I’m in danger and I keep a record of it, to write “do not keep secret” on the top so my suspicions see the light of day.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Once he knows the contents, and determines that it is government related, and that it contradicts that government’s narrative, what’s he supposed to do?

flicker on September 23, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Make it public, fast

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM

I’m kind of a stickler for the legal aspects whenever the discussion goes moral.
Nation of laws or a nation of nothing.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM

I agree with you, but there are criminal laws and then there are civil laws. CNN may not be guilty under the former, but it may be liable under the latter. The same is true in a slip-n-fall case. A store owner’s negligence may not rise to the level of criminal negligence, but that doesn’t protect him from liability under tort law.

Resist We Much on September 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM

This is so not the work of a “democratic operative”.

Remind me if I think I’m in danger and I keep a record of it, to write “do not keep secret” on the top so my suspicions see the light of day.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM

You could always just publish it here on a daily basis…no?

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Resist We Much on September 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Little civil suit never stopped the LSM before.
Personally I hope they sue the pants of CNN.
Not for any higher purpose, but for my own personal satisfaction. :)

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:22 PM

DrStock on September 23, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Yours and JPeterman’s suspicions make perfect sense. Wasn’t there some kind of report that the Libyans were seen carrying out bunches of documents from the embassy, all of which could be made available later for the right price?

Ambassador Stevens’ diary would fit right into that scenario.

PatriotGal2257 on September 23, 2012 at 8:23 PM

No.

vityas on September 23, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Maybe. Or tell someone where I keep it, in case I am harmed. I could call police,and if I was sure of my evidence I would also get a TRO. Steven presumeably called or notified the State Dept. Nothing happened in terms of safety. They sent no protection and there is no TRO against AQ

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:23 PM

The fact that they call it a journal implies to me that it was a personal document, not a work-related one, but if it was work-related, then its not as bad as I thought (if you go with the work-journal premise, there’s still the question of whether CNN should be trawling through government papers, but that a different can of worms). If its a journal of the personal variety, then I still maintain that they stepped way out of bounds – it would be the height of disrespect to rifle through a dead mans private record of his thoughts, against his family’s wishes. However, as many of you have pointed out, that may not be the case.

AndStatistics on September 23, 2012 at 8:25 PM

They removed something from a crime scene IMO. It was morally and ethically wrong.

gophergirl on September 23, 2012 at 7:02 PM

A war zone is not a “crime scene”.

An ambassador works for you.

His notes kept while on the job about the job are paid for by you.

If he is unwilling to do the proper cipher work -to prevent it from being read by Al Qaeda or whoever- then it is open news for whoever finds it.

Stevens failed to do his part by encoding the “journal”.

Far worse, Obama failed to protect the Consulate.

Getting the last damning detail out to the public- through the medium of this “diary”- trumps an ambassador’s failing to properly encrypt his vulnerable notes.

profitsbeard on September 23, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Privacy of a dead ambassador does not trump the need for the public to know they are being lied to about this mess. Obama should have known there were problems in Libya, instead of fixing them he put together a ruse about a video and tried to set a precedent of getting it pulled off youtube. General Dempsey leaned on private citizens and their right to free speech.

I hope Cooper made lots of copies

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM

The FBI and Congress should have access to the exact copy or the original of this so called ‘journal’.

Why is Hillary keeping this journal from them?

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 8:28 PM

A journal about fearing for your life at work is not the same as a “dear Diary” type journal with owls or angels on it. If it told the intimate details about his love life, suppress it; if ittold what he had for breakfast or what he was wearing to dinner parties, give it to his family and be done with it. This is not a “dear diary”.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:30 PM

And if you left the company and if your company is anything like mine then I’m certain they wouldn’t want you taking them with you to a competitor.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Certainly nothing that would be proprietary could be taken to a competitor and I would certainly not do so. However, this is different because a significant amount of that work was done under government contract and therefore the knowledge is not property of the company I work for, but was actually paid for by taxpayers. Thus, there would be a compelling interest that such knowledge would not be lost if it were useful. They would certainly not be useful to any of my successors at my company since my handwriting alone constitutes a nearly unbreakable code that even I sometimes in unable to decrypt. The journals I am describing don’t have proprietary information, as that would be kept separately and marked appropriately.

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 8:31 PM

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 8:28 PM

We have no reason to believe Hillary knew about this document. It’s too damn bad it wasn’t written on State Dept stationery. What a difference the type of paper means to some.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:32 PM

The FBI and Congress should have access to the exact copy or the original of this so called ‘journal’.

Why is Hillary keeping this journal from them?

faraway on September 23, 2012 at 8:28 PM

Sorry if I’ve had you pegged as way faraway.
At least on this you’re a lot closer.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:32 PM

Wait a second… they got the journal 4 days after the attack?

Is this BEFORE or AFTER the FBI was sent over to Benghazi to look for evidence?

If BEFORE that is one thing… it might actually be the real thing.

If AFTER, well, how could the FBI miss something like this? Is it incompetence, something left behind or a plant?

This entire thing, from the start of a no-name, no-background Ambassador with no record getting to be in Benghazi with no real protection and hostiles targeting him… all the way to this journal surfacing after the attack at CNN… it stinks to high heaven.

All of it.

This is an act of war. You would think people just might be trying to find out just how it happened, why it happened and how the people who were the targets got to be in such an easy kill box.

The stench is enormous.

ajacksonian on September 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM

ajacksonian on September 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Yes, and we can bet that Hillary and company knew everything in the journal except the fac that there was a journal, a written record.

clnurnberg on September 23, 2012 at 8:37 PM

AZfederalist on September 23, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Sorry, I wasn’t singling you out.
My point was to the company/tax payers dime part of whether this was really a personal effect. I’ll have to see if any precedence comes to light on this to fully form my opinion.

OTTO on September 23, 2012 at 8:37 PM

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