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Looking For Lap Dogs In All The Wrong Places

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Lucy takes the tiniest little leaks

Who's the real national security risk? The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof clears up a few misconceptions:

Take Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who is head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator Roberts has criticized The Times, but he himself is responsible for an egregious disclosure of classified intelligence. As National Journal reported in April, it was Senator Roberts who stated as the Iraq war began that the U.S. had "human intelligence that indicated the location of Saddam Hussein."

That statement horrified some in our intelligence community by revealing that we had an agent close to Saddam.

No responsible newspaper would risk an agent's life so blithely. And The Times would never have been as cavalier about Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as the White House was. The fact is, journalists regularly hold back information for national security reasons; I recently withheld information at the request of the intelligence community about secret terrorist communications.

More broadly, the one thing worse than a press that is "out of control" is one that is under control. Anybody who has lived in a Communist country knows that. Just consider what would happen if the news media as a whole were as docile to the administration as Fox News or The Wall Street Journal editorial page.

When I was covering the war in Iraq, we reporters would sometimes tune to Fox News and watch, mystified, as it purported to describe how Iraqis loved Americans. Such coverage (backed by delusional Journal editorials baffling to anyone who was actually in Iraq) misled conservatives about Iraq from the beginning. In retrospect, the real victims of Fox News weren't the liberals it attacked but the conservatives who believed it.

Historically, we in the press have done more damage to our nation by withholding secret information than by publishing it. One example was this newspaper's withholding details of the plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion. President Kennedy himself suggested that the U.S. would have been better served if The Times had published the full story and derailed the invasion.

Then there were the C.I.A. abuses that journalists kept mum about until they spilled over and prompted the Church Committee investigation in the 1970's. And there are secrets we should have found, but didn't: in the run-up to the Iraq war, the press — particularly this newspaper — was too credulous about claims that Iraq possessed large amounts of W.M.D.

In each of these cases, we were too compliant. We failed in our watchdog role, and we failed our country.

So be very wary of Mr. Bush's effort to tame the press. Watchdogs can be mean, dumb and obnoxious, but it would be even more dangerous to trade them in for lap dogs.

Posted by aalkon at July 5, 2006 11:58 AM

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Comments

"No responsible newspaper ... "

Oliver North - The Post.

"And The Times..."

That could be explained because the agent, her husband and the newspaper were pretty much anti-Bush, no?

"The fact is..."

The fact is, sometimes they don't either.


KATHARINE GRAHAM, the publisher of The Washington Post who died in 2001, backed her editors through tense battles during the Watergate era. But in a 1986 speech, she warned that the media sometimes made “tragic” mistakes.

Her example was the disclosure, after the bombing of the American embassy in Beirut in 1983, that American intelligence was reading coded radio traffic between terrorist plotters in Syria and their overseers in Iran. The communications stopped, and five months later they struck again, destroying the Marine barracks in Beirut and killing 241 Americans.


"When I was covering the war in Iraq..."

Another one easily explained. Newspaper people in Iraq regularly rely only on stringers to bring info to them in their hotels. They pay more for violent and failing type stories. Guess what they get then?

Try reading Iraq the Model, Mike Totten, and others that do not sit in hotels. The Iraqi people, by and large, want us there. Hell, even the average street Iranian views Americans (not necessarily the gov) as good.

"Historically, we in the press..."

No, it's been a push.

"...was too credulous about claims that Iraq possessed large amounts of W.M.D."

Ah, that canard. Seems the entire world intelligence community (including your beloved France) thought the WMD were there. But, of course, only the Repub's are to blame.

There is no good way to determine the worth of the outcome of anything except to read about it later as history. Even then it's a toss. Journalists are people, and as such are subject to greed, self-aggrandizment and all the other loathsome characteristics as the rest of us.

Beware of pedestals, they can get kicked out from under you.


Posted by: Oligonicella at July 5, 2006 7:41 AM

Not to lighten things (or maybe to lighten things), that seems to be an awful lot of jewellery aroung Lucy's neck. Isn't it heavy?

Posted by: bev at July 5, 2006 1:24 PM

Glamour takes sacrifice, dahlink. But, no, actually, it's not heavy. And it was a present from Marie Redding, the former features assistant at the New York Daily News. Lucy finally filled out enough to wear it (although I had to punch a new hole in the leather). I believe she's distantly related to the Gabors. (Lucy, not Marie, who's now an editor at Cosmetic & Personal Care Packaging Magazine).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2006 4:26 PM

Seems the entire world intelligence community [...] thought the WMD were there. But, of course, only the Repub's are to blame.


I don't see it that way. The people who got the blame, logically enough, are the actual people who invaded a sovereign state that was not threatening them. Namely, the politico-military machines of the USA and the UK. I don't think we need count the minority nations in that joke of a "coalition", like Korea and Poland.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at July 6, 2006 9:49 AM

When I was covering the war in Iraq, we reporters would sometimes tune to Fox News and watch, mystified, as it purported to describe how Iraqis loved Americans. Such coverage (backed by delusional Journal editorials baffling to anyone who was actually in Iraq) misled conservatives about Iraq from the beginning. In retrospect, the real victims of Fox News weren't the liberals it attacked but the conservatives who believed it.

Apparently you didn't take the time to talk to any of the soldiers who are over there fighting while you were over there if you don't believe that the Iraqis want us there. I can only assume you haven't seen the pictures that our families and friends serving have been sending us over the last couple years. Its articles like this that make our soilders question what on God's earth is being told to us over here. Their biggest fears are that we aren't aware of all the good they are doing and after reading things like this its no wonder. I can't tell you how many people I know that are currently there, have been there and back and some have been on more than one occasion and its awfully funny that none of them share your and your "co-workers" views of what the atomsphere is there. Surely you don't mean to imply that CNN is any more impartial than Fox News is. Let me guess you would have voted for that joke of a, and I use this term loosely, "movie" Fahrenhiet 911 to win the Oscar? That movie was laughable. True some people believe what they want to believe.........and that OBVIOUSLY includes members of the media.

Posted by: Clay at July 6, 2006 10:59 AM

Stu "El Inglés" Harris at July 6, 2006 09:49 AM

Doesn't liberal mean wanting liberty for all?

Nineteen UN resolutions demanded Iraq prove they had disassembled their WMD. You know, those weapons they used on the Kurds, Iranians and in Beruit. Things we have actual film footage of.

It was incumbent upon them and they thumbed their nose repeatedly. Tuff if the world's only balls chose to remove a murderous despot.

Strange times when removing someone implementing 3,000 murders per month is viewed as wrong.

Posted by: Oligonicella at July 8, 2006 1:44 AM

And the fleas take the tinest leaks on lucy

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