Monday, January 09, 2006

Re: The Times' Inexplicable One Year Delay

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 11:48 PM
Subject: Re: The Times' Inexplicable One Year Delay In Disclosing The Warrantless Surveillance

...and again, thanks!!!Here are urls for two I posted yesterday on eavesdropping, etc.



----- Original Message -----

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 6:30 PM
Subject: Re: The Times' Inexplicable One Year Delay In Disclosing The Warrantless Surv...

Dear Dean Velvel,

I have personal experience with being monitored. This may sound completely insane, but I can assure you that I am in no way more insane than most people stumbling around this planet. Believe me or no. Here is what happened to me:I wrote in response to an article in an online publication called the Yemen Times (which I read in order to discover what was being said in the Arab world after 9/11 and Iraq, etc and it was in English therefore accessible to me). I am very much a believer in peace. I find few, if any wars, are justified within my moral code and my faith. Well, apparently, the editors of the publication felt disposed to publishing my letters - one as an article and the other as a letter. Focus (Opinion) Of the Week - Issue 49 - Yemen Times Letters to the Editor - Yemen Times Afterword, I received numerous loving emails from people all over the Arab and Muslim world within days of the first publication. Within days of this all occuring, my ability to read or send email slowed to a crawl. So slow that I usually could not send an email without my server timing me out. After about 3 weeks of this nonsense, I wrote my own email address (when I could get through) asking if someone were surveilling me and if so why? I also told them I loved them and forgave them. Within two days of my email campaign, my email service miraculously returned to normal. My flight status, however, did not. Twice in the year after that, I was (for reasons security could not disclose) strip searched at the airport because my security "code" said they had to do this to me.This stopped after that first year - as did my Internet publishing career at the time. I was adequately frightened. I still am somewhat frightened. I no longer write letters of peace and friendship to Muslim publications. Cowardly, yes. However, I should NOT have to be afraid of the US government simply because I love peace and human beings. I am not the one to blame. But I do feel guilt for being a coward and for not having pursued my legal options at the time when I might have been able to prove something. My husband and my friends were all against me pursuing it - and I didn't know then what I know today about this Republican administration and its evil.


Yana Hylton

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 5:44 PM
Subject: NYT journalistic failure

I agree with your skepticism of the self-serving explanations of the paper's executives as to why they failed to do their job consistent with the high standards they espouse. The "why's" you ask jump out at anyone with any sense. I do not have much hope they will be answered any time soon. Sadly, for the Times, it's just MOS. While I'm writing, I thought I'd ask for any new insights on the Woodward-Plame story. What is this prosecutor doing? Last, may I express my cynicism about the "plea bargains" extracted by the prosecutors of Abramoff, et al. Bet that their singing will not produce much on the big fishes. Oh they'll nail Ney and a few other lesser lights of conservative corruption, but I don't think the prosecutors really want to get too much on certain obvious big name sleazoids that could lead to their indictment. That would anger the bosses.


----- Original Message -----

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 7:52 PM
Subject: Re: The Times' Inexplicable One Year Delay In Disclosing The Warrantless Surveillance

Thank you for the explanation:

I am with you on this one.. I believe the New York Times should explain the full one year silence!!!! As they can't have 1/2 (half) pregnant--as the American saying goes. Either publish with full detail, or don't publish at all. This half a job doesn't work. Stupid me, I thought that anything that effects the American People (here we go again with American People) should be published in full. Besides, why does the New York Times, use the anonymous source, didn't they learn their lesson form Judy Miller's problem.....???

Now to the P. who everyone says has nothing to do with what is going on.. (Wars, Torture, etc.) Well, I am sorry, I do not buy that, if you are the CEO of a company, you have the title, the money, then you should be responsible if your V.P. or CFO or anybody else did something wrong. Again the American saying: "you can't have it both ways...." You hire, you fire, you hold responsibility.

Anyway, your articles are really informative and to the point.

Thank you again and please, keep up the good work!!!

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 1:42 PM
Subject: The Times' Inexplicable One Year Delay In Disclosing The Warrantless Surveillance

January 6, 2006

Re: The Times’ Inexplicable One Year Delay In
Disclosing The Warrantless Surveillance
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

The one year delay in The New York Times’ revelation of the warrantless electronic eavesdropping remains inexplicable. The Times’ ombudsman, Byron Calame, wrote last Sunday that the high Times officials involved -- Bill Keller and Arthur Sulzberger -- refused to give any adequate explanation or to answer his questions. It did seem to Calame, however, that in effect they were claiming that to explain would be to give the government leads it could use to track down (and punish) the whistleblowers, the people whom one other writer, Jonathan Alter, believes are the true patriots here because they exposed serious governmental wrongdoing.

Such a claim by Keller and Sulzberger, which is no doubt being made in fact, strikes me as unpersuasive. For as has been discussed here before in regard to Times revelations about planes used for CIA renditions, it is always possible to sufficiently describe events in ways that make it impossible to know the whos and wheres of a situation, yet to know in some depth what occurred. One retreats where necessary to higher levels of abstraction that do not reveal specific actors or places. Not to mention that it is difficult to know how one can reasonably expect the details of the revelations to remain secret for long anyway, when, according to The Times itself, about a dozen government officials were part of the process.

Keller did say, however, that the forthcoming publication of a book by one of the reporters who broke the story, James Risen, a book that apparently would have disclosed the secret surveillance, was not the reason the disclosure article was finally printed. (Calame appeared to display a certain incipient dubiousness about this statement.)

And though, in prepared statements, Keller did not mention the November 2004 presidential election or say whether The Times learned of the eavesdropping before or after that election, he implicitly appeared to deny that the election had anything to do with The Times’ failure to print the story in 2004. He said that:

The publication was not timed to the Iraqi election, the Patriot Act debate,
Jim’s forthcoming book or any other event. We published the story when we did
because after much hard work it was fully reported, checked and ready, and
because, after listening respectfully to the Administration’s objections, we
were convinced there was no good reason not to publish it. (Emphasis added.)

One might add, indeed, that if the election were the cause of The Times’ delay, why didn’t it publish the article after the election but without waiting a full year?

Nonetheless, the suspicion that the election may have had something to do with the story initially being withheld will not down. Perhaps the election’s "only" impact was that, due to desperation arising from the possibility that disclosure prior to the election would increase the possibility of defeat at the polls, Bush really laid his claims of national security on The Times thickly, stridently, before the election, at a time when the paper may not have been as sure as it was later that his claims were bovine defecation. Here is what Keller said in his prepared statements in regard to this point and in regard to why The Times later changed its mind and published the story:

A year ago, when this information first became known to Times reporters,
the Administration argued strongly that writing about this eavesdropping
program would give terrorists clues about the vulnerability of their
communications and would deprive the government of an effective tool for the
protection of the country’s security. Officials also assured senior editors of
The Times that a variety of legal checks had been imposed that satisfied
everyone involved that the program raised no legal questions
. As we have
done before in rare instances when faced with a convincing national security
argument, we agreed not to publish at that time. (Emphasis added.)

We also continued reporting, and in the ensuing months two things
happened that changed our thinking.

First, we developed a fuller picture of the concerns and misgivings
that had been expressed during the life of the program
. It is not our place
to pass judgement on the legal or civil liberties questions involved in such a
program, but it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government
than we had previously understood. (Emphasis added.)

Second, in the course of subsequent reporting we satisfied ourselves
that we could write about this program -- withholding a number of technical
details -- in a way that would not expose any intelligence-gathering methods or
capabilities that are not already on the public record. The fact that the
government eavesdrops on those suspected of terrorist connections is well-known.
The fact that the N.S.A. can legally monitor communications within the United
States with a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is also
public information
. What is new is that the N.S.A. has for the past three
years had the authority to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United
States without a warrant. It is that expansion of authority -- not the need for
a robust anti-terror intelligence operation -- that prompted debate within the
government, and that is the subject of the article. (Emphasis added.)

Suspicion that Bush may have laid it on really thick the first time is only increased because of an online article by Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter about what subsequently happened in December of 2005, a year later:

No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not
publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American
citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a
clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I learned
this week that on Dec. 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and
executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them
out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can
only imagine the president’s desperation.

The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national
security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. His comparison to the
damaging pre-9/11 revelation of Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone,
which caused bin Laden to change tactics, is fallacious; any Americans with ties
to Muslim extremists -- in fact, all American Muslims, period -- have long since
suspected that the U.S. government might be listening in to their conversations.
Bush claimed that "the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the
enemy." But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that
this is so. And rather than the leaking being a "shameful act," it was the work
of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important
story -- which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year -- because he
knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had "legal
authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing
force." But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law.
And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing "all necessary force" in
fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did
not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in
any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

Curiously, Alter does not make clear whether his statements about Bush’s desperation are his own view, or are the view transmitted to him by the unidentified sources from whom he learned of the December 6, 2005 meeting and who may be privy to the reaction of the Timesmen to that meeting. One assumes the view is that of Alter himself, but you never know.

There are, one thinks, two points emanating from all this. One is a question. Keller says it is (and in 2004 I think was) well known that the government engages in surveillance. Nonetheless, Keller’s statement also says The Times initially eschewed publication in part because "Officials also assured senior editors of The Times that a variety of legal checks had been imposed that satisfied everyone involved that the program raised no legal questions." (Emphasis added.) Then his statement says publication ultimately occurred in part because "we developed a further picture of the concerns and misgivings that had been expressed during the life of the program. It is not our place to pass judgement on the legal or civil liberties questions involved in such a program, but it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood." (Emphasis added.) The question which obviously arises is this: Especially since Keller says it is (and I believe was) well known that the government is engaging in surveillance, why did publication depend upon what people within the government said was the legality or illegality of the program? Why the hell didn’t The Times (confidentially) consult its own lawyers, who could have told it in a New York minute, in 2004, that what was being done by the government was flatly in violation of the law?

Is it possible that The Times did consult its own lawyers, who told it not to publish for one reason or another? That is what happened in the Pentagon Papers case, you know, so The Times had to get itself a new lawyer there. If it did consult its lawyers about the electronic surveillance and they told it, for any reason, not to publish, then it needs new lawyers now, as in the Pentagon Papers matter. Somehow or other, however, I am dubious that The Times consulted its lawyers in 2004. Somehow or other I would bet that The Times, as Keller said, (inexplicably) relied solely on the soothing statements of government officials, notorious liars all, it would seem, right up to Bush himself. In any event, the question of whether The Times (very negligently) relied solely on the statements of government officials in 2004, without even bothering to consult its own counsel, cries out for answer.

The other point of enormous relevance is the issue of whether The Times did in fact learn of the warrantless surveillance before the 2004 election, and was persuaded (strong- armed?) before the election not to print the story. This too cries out for an answer. George Bush was not elected by the American people in 2000. He was elected by denying the vote to blacks in Florida, by the ballot skullduggery that caused votes to be cast for Buchanan rather than Gore by members of that famous political organization called "Elderly Florida Jews for Pat Buchanan," and by the Supreme Court, whose latest nominee is the subject of hearings that begin in a few days. Is it possible that, after being elected by denying votes to blacks, by misleading members of "Elderly Florida Jews for Buchanan," and by the Supreme Court, Bush got himself reelected by persuading The Times not to publish the news of his lawbreaking prior to the 2004 reelection and by The Times acceding to this? The Times plainly should let us know the answer to this horrid possibility.*

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 2:21 PM
Subject: Re: The Times' Inexplicable One Year Delay In Disclosing The Warrantless Surveillance

On a point of information, while it is OK to use "the Times" as an abbreviation in the body of your text after introducing it as "the New York Times", you shouldn't use "the Times" as part of the title of an article or as a subject header in emails about that newspaper.

"The Times", pure and simple, is the proper title of a British newspaper, the one that many Americans try to distinguish as "the London Times" (which is not its proper title, and never has been).

Yours sincerely,


----- Original Message -----

Sent: Saturday, January 07, 2006 9:00 PM
Subject: The NYT's Unconscionable Decision to Sit on the NSA Story for aYear

Dear Lawrence R Velvel,

Thank you for your review of the NYTimes' complicity in this particular crime of the present regime.

If you have a moment you might review its complicity with present regime in the run-up to and promotion of the Iraq war. It is worthy of a prize named for that other notorious war-monger, Joseph Pulitzer.

And if you have any other free time please remind us all of the complicity of the NYTimes with the frame-up of Wen Ho Lee, when the NYTimes was looking at China and Americans of Chinese descent as replacements for Russia and the Russians as opponents in the all-war, all-the-time strategy. Before the "good luck" of 9/11 dropped onto their plate and enabled them to demonize the "Islam-fascists", all of the Islamic countries of the world and Americans of Arabic descent or of Islamic faith directly.

All of this has taken place since the ascension of Pinch Sulzberger to the throne at the NYTimes. He is taken up the role of William Randoph Hearst as war monger and yellow journalist and all fingers ought to point to him directly. Keller and the rest are just hired hands.

John Francis Lee

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