The [Thursday] Papers
"The Central Intelligence Agency leaked classified material to reporters to shape the perception that its detention and interrogation program was an effective tool in thwarting terrorism, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday," the New York Times reports.
And reporters bit.
Think of the ramifications of news agencies acting as patsies to the political interests of the national security state - enabling war, torture, extrajudicial presidencies . . .
There is blood on the hands of this nation's media establishment - simply because they are not smart enough or skilled enough to do their job properly, or because they are greedy, vainglorious opportunists willing to pass along fake scoops to advance their careers, or because they see the world through the same prism as those they cover.
The effect is devastating.
Leakers like Snowden, Manning and Ellsberg don't merely risk being called narcissists, traitors or mental cases for having liberated state secrets for public scrutiny. They absolutely guarantee it. In the last two days, the New York Times's David Brooks, Politico's Roger Simon, the Washington Post's Richard Cohen and others have vilified Snowden for revealing the government's aggressive spying on its own citizens, calling him self-indulgent, a loser and a narcissist.
There's more - go read the whole thing and come back. I'll be waiting.
Back to today's New York Times article:
"The report also said that in 2002, a publication, revealed later on Tuesday to be The New York Times, agreed to withhold information about a secret prison in Thailand at the urging of the agency and Vice President Dick Cheney."
I think we can all agree now that that was a bad call. But maybe a close call. It gets a lot worse.
The details in the report speak to tensions inside the government over the intelligence community's dealings with the media. In some cases, the agency authorized the disclosure of classified information to journalists. Yet, in recent years, the government has investigated reporters and officials, including prosecuting a C.I.A. officer for leaking details of the torture program.
Of course not. If you are a spook shilling for the administration - any administration - Tom Brokaw (and his successor and peers) is your friend.
Unfortunately, this next example is all-too-common - I've long wanted to FOIA interview requests of Rahm Emanuel (and, previously, Richard M. Daley) from reporters to see how they propose in advance to shape the result to the mayor's liking in order to land a fake exclusive. (Feel free to steal that idea, anyone out there.) You thought the Chicagoland e-mails were bad?
The report says that in 2005 the C.I.A. decided to cooperate with a Times reporter, Douglas Jehl, as he reported on the treatment of Abu Zubaydah. An agency official, who was not named in the report, concluded that Mr. Jehl's article was "not necessarily an unflattering story."
Curiously, the Times cuts short what Jehl actually promised, which is far worse, as you can see for yourself here.
The Times then let Jehl off the hook by allowing him to respond with a disingenuous e-mail.
In an e-mail, Mr. Jehl said he had "worked aggressively to pursue and publish stories about the C.I.A.'s harsh interrogation of terrorist suspects, at a time when those details remained highly classified." He is proud of that work, he said, but was not interviewed by the Senate panel "and would never comment on reporting that was based on confidential conversations with current and former U.S. government officials."
Guess what? Jehl was never interviewed by the Times either - nor were his editors.
It also turns out that Jehl's e-mail to the Times was really just a statement put out by the Post's PR department.
And proud of his work? Like I said, they never learn.
If I'm the editor of the Washington Post, I'm hauling Jehl into my office for a little talk. And most likely firing him.
Back to the Times:
"For his part, Mr. Kessler defended his book and said that he had corroborated what he was told with the F.B.I.
"This report is discredited," he said, adding that it was written only by Democratic lawmakers and did not include interviews with many of the main players.
Does the New York Times read its own paper?
Back to the Times:
The Senate report also highlighted an incident in which the C.I.A. pressured an American newspaper to withhold naming the country that Abu Zubaydah was being held in. The agency was concerned that the report would damage the United States' ability to recruit other countries to host secret prisons.
Is that a good reason to withhold naming the country? The media's job isn't to make sure it doesn't hinder the government's ability to maintain (torturous) secret prisons. In fact, the media's responsibility in that case goes beyond America. So call it a global fail.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, defended the paper's decision to delay publication of the information.
In this case, the Times endangered lives - if not enabled actual murder, depending on what happened in that prison.
A Times reporter, James Risen, said Tuesday that the newspaper was The Times, and the country was Thailand.
Sulzberger still wouldn't say? It took Risen to find out?
James Risen, hero. At least we still have a few in my profession.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Leak selectively.
Posted on December 11, 2014
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