Serving in its’ customary role as maestro for the mainstream media, the New York Times today trumpeted the clarion call to all news organizations to create the illusion of a leading story for the weekend that would obscure and obfuscate the positive reverberation sounding forth from Thursday’s vote in Iraq. Almost certainly, the Gray Lady, tireless in her efforts to combat any genuine effort to fight the war on terror, cued up this article based upon leaks of classified information to assist democrats sounding off against the Patriot Act in the U.S. Senate today. By mid-morning, Andrea Mitchell was blathering on, singing in harmony with the writers at The New York Times. As usual, The Washington Post was singing the same tune in an almost perfect unison. In fact, MSNBC devoted two hours of coverage to the topic today between 10:00am-12:00 Noon with Andrea Mitchell filing regular reports that echoed the most strident, left-wing voices in the Senate. “This is Big Brother run amok,” declared Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. “We cannot protect our borders if we cannot protect our ideals.” Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., called it a “shocking revelation” that he said, “ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American.” MSNBC perpetuated the story throughout the day casting the entire story as an illegal domestic spying incident without regard for the truth to be found in the breadth and scope of the story.
Fortunately, the brilliant legal scholar Mark Levin had provided an answer by 12:00 Noon on Friday and posted on The National Review Online. Mr. Levin provides us with this legal sketch with which the rest of the story begins.
“Some brief background: The Foreign Intelligence Security Act permits the government to monitor foreign communications, even if they are with U.S. citizens -- 50 USC 1801, et seq. A FISA warrant is only needed if the subject communications are wholly contained in the United States and involve a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.
The reason the President probably had to sign an executive order is that the Justice Department office that processes FISA requests, the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), can take over 6 months to get a standard FISA request approved. It can become extremely bureaucratic, depending on who is handling the request. His executive order is not contrary to FISA if he believed, as he clearly did, that he needed to act quickly. The president has constitutional powers, too.
It's also clear from the Times piece that Rockefeller knew about the government's eavesdropping, as did the FISA court. By the time this story is fully fleshed out, we'll learn that many others knew about it, too. To the best of my knowledge, Rockefeller didn't take any steps to stop the eavesdropping. And he's no friend of this administration. Nor is he above using intelligence for political purposes, as his now infamous memorandum demonstrates.
But these leaks -- about secret prisons in Europe, CIA front companies, and now secret wiretaps, are egregious violations of law and extremely detrimental to our national security. They are far worse than any aspect of the Plame matter. The question is whether our government is capable of tracking down these perpetrators and punishing them, or will we continue to allow the Times and Washington Post determine national security policy. And if these wiretaps are violative of our civil liberties, it's curious that the Times would wait a year to report about it. I cannot remember the last time, or first time, this newspaper reported a leak that was helpful to our war effort.”
Thank goodness we have experts like Mark Levin who can respond to the ludicrous half-truths promulgated on an unknowing public.
There are signs everywhere that the fractional and partial story told through incomplete reporting by the Times, the Post, and MSNBC is deficient at best and slanderous at worst. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice stated “Bush has "acted lawfully in every step that he has taken. "Scott McClellan said at the daily White House briefing that President Bush "is going to remain fully committed to upholding our Constitution and protect the civil liberties of the American people. And he has done both." In addition, justice department employees assert that the policy has uncovered several terrorist plots including one by Ohio truck driver Lyman Faris who intended to blow-up the Brooklyn Bridge. Michele Malkin has extended and comprehensive coverage on the story of Lyman Faris that is not included anywhere else.
On Hardball with Chris Matthews, Tom Brokow was singing the same tune as all of the other left wing journalists in saying that this news came on a day of a vote on the Patriot Act “when we now know that the administration was operating outside the law as we know it.” According to Ian Schwartz at The Political Teen, host Chris Matthews repeatedly asked the question to Anne Kornblut as to why The New York Times would choose today to expose this year-old story. Mr. Matthews got a host of disingenuous answers from Ms. Kornblut and Howard Fineman of Newsweek including that there was “room in the paper today,” and that the editors of the New York Times never even considered the unusual convergence of today’s news events. It seems that MSNBC has played host to the largest conflagration of liberal kook journalists in the history of cable news.
At Red State, author Dpayton, has a wonderful synopsis of today’s story in the Times. “But now we've given the terrorists new information--that anything seized in the war could be used immediately--and now they'll change their precautions. This means one less opportunity to prevent the loss of life of potentially thousands. What we have here is yet another intelligence leak.” And John Hinderaker at Powerline sums it up this way: “Under the Plame precedent, this case is a no-brainer. The intelligence officials who leaked to the Times should be identified, criminally prosecuted, and sent to prison.” The Times believes that it should be the arbiter of what will and will not help the terrorists and thus impair our national security.”
Over at News Busters, Noel Shepherd has linked the sale of James Risen’s new book to the splashy release of the front page article today. The Drudge Report, in an exclusive, just announced that this story by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau is just “one of many ‘explosive newsbreaking’ stories that can be found -- in [Risen’s] upcoming book -- which he turned in 3 months ago!” Yet, “The Times failed to reveal the urgent story was tied to a book release and sale.”
Stop the ACLU has extensive coverage of today’s artifical outrage at The Times, and the reaction by the ACLU. Perhaps James Joyner at Outside The Beltway sums up the rationale for the adminstration’s action in these matters. “As to the searches themselves, there's not enough information here to cause a red flag to go up. Presumably, the NSA doesn't have the time or inclination to eavesdrop on random Americans, preferring instead to concentrate their efforts on those whom they reasonably believe are tied to terrorists.” Providing the proper and authoritative context of these investigations as the essential apparatus for the protection of American citzens does not seem to be a role for the liberal media in America.
Certainly, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the frantic liberal press caused an infatuation with this story today, and the obsession is likely to continue for most of weekend including obligatory mentions on all of the Sunday news programs. Some of the shows may even make it the topic of the entire program. With the defeat of the Patriot Act today, our media seems to be awestruck by the publication of a year-old story on the front page of the New York Times. The editors and publishers of the Times must be feeling on top of the world tonight. Their ability to stage-manage a news cycle is unsurpassed as demonstrated by all of today’s events.
Right Wing Nation has many weekend stories worth reading.