Goodbye, LAT

[Update #2: See my earlier post on ‘News And Citizenship‘ to understand my take on the broader issues.]

Subject: Cancel Subscription

From: Marc Danziger

Date: 9:54 am

To: subscriptions@latimes.com

cc: dean.baquet@latimes.com, readers.rep@latimes.com

I’ve been a subscriber to the Los Angeles Times continuously since I moved back to Los Angeles in 1980.

With this email, I’m asking that you cancel my subscription, effective Monday, June 26, 2006.

Subscription details are:

[deleted]

I’m canceling my subscription because I am appalled that you would publish the details of a legal, effective government program – the financial transaction monitoring program.

The Times and its staff are not above the obligations of citizenship. Those obligations absolutely do extend to vigorously questioning the government about its actions and inactions and continuously challenging it to get better.

But it seems to me that there is a bright line between challenging government policies with an aim to ensuring that it is doing its job, and openly disclosing the mechanics of a program designed to identify those who murder innocent civilians and who have openly declared war on our nation, its people, and on the values that make us who we are.

I’m disappointed in the Times for doing this, and I cannot support you by funding you. I’ll miss the paper.

Marc Danziger

Patterico did it, too.

If I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal or the NY Times, I’d cancel those, too.

[Update: Listen to Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus (Washington bureau chief for the LAT) discuss the decision to go to press here (look for ‘To Publish Or Not?’)

90 thoughts on “Goodbye, LAT”

  1. If I had to chose between a free press that printed things the government wanted secret and a press that withheld information from me every time the government claimed it was a matter of national security I would take my chances with the free press every time.

    But that is what makes me an American.

    Now some people would be willing to trade liberty for a strongman in the Whitehouse. Like you, these people are essentially cowards.

    I understand these people, their kind exists in every part of the globe.We have seen the results of their timidity however in the loss of freedoms and the growth of tyranical governments wherever their kind flourish.

    So kudos to the free press. I often have disagreementw with what they print but I will always defend their right to print it.

  2. Ken:

    “Now some people would be willing to trade liberty for a strongman in the Whitehouse. Like you, these people are essentially cowards.”

    Just what does that comment have to do with revealing the existance of a LEGAL intelligence gathering program?

    Ken, I suppose you would have also OK’d the NYT revealing the existance of the Enigma program during WWII? After all, as one State Department idiot said just prior to WWII “Gentleman do not read other gentelman’s mail”.

  3. I find it interesting how few of you secrecy fetishists have called for a boycott of the Wall Street Journal. Or is it impossible for a paper to betray America if its editorial page publishes the Magic Dolphin Lady?

    (Credit where it’s due: Don Luskin and Mark Levin have included the WSJ in their list of papers to be hatin’ on. They may be crazed deranged secrecy fetishists, but at least they’re consistent.)

    BTW, since WWII seems to be the point of comparison for everything the secrecy fetishists write, it might be instructive for them to go back and look at newspapers from the time — secret/classified information was published in the newspapers a lot more then than it is today.

  4. _Like you, these people are essentially cowards._

    That’s a pretty harsh accusation, particularly considering the circumstances. It appears that you Ken, have no bounds for what is fair game in the press regardless of the national security implications. You guys bitch and moan about the military approach to fighting the war on terror, while simultaneously supporting the undermining of the intelligence aspects of it. Why, it almost sounds like you’d simply like to see the U.S. fail? Maybe it is you that are the coward.

  5. ken, thanks for the namecalling; it makes it easier to ignore your positions. But not impossible so let me offer a simple explanation: I never called for the press to be lapdogs for the government. I called for them to exercise their responsibilities as citizens and decide when reporting steps over the line. In this case, it stepped over the line, hence my reaction.

    M.A. (#6) – did you bother reading the post? Go back and try again, and let us know what you see.

    A.L.

  6. Congratulations to Mr. Danziger for canceling his subscription to LAT. Unfortunately, that is not what you will hear from talk radio, conservative papers, conservatives on cable and large parts of conservative blogs (i.e. NRO). Yes, they will say the New York Times (which is primarily responsible for breaking this story) is far kooky Left, dangerously bizarre and even treasonous. But they are part of the media and they will not suggest that you cancel your subscription, that you boycott those who advertise in this liberal rag or patronize and encourage those who will not (i.e. GM). Why read or listen to someone rail on about the NYT if there is nothing they propose to do about it? This should provoke a massive fallout led by media coservatives, but people in glass houses …

  7. If I had to chose between a free press that printed things the government wanted secret and a press that withheld information from me every time the government claimed it was a matter of national security I would take my chances with the free press every time.

    Ken, you’re an idiot. This is not about a free press. A free press means the government cannot, absent compelling national security issues (which just might be present here, but I digress), get an injunction ahead of time (“prior restrain”) to stop publication.

    It does not mean – as the Supremes made very clear in the Pentagon Papers case – that the press is not subject to prosecution for actually publishing something in violation of the law – even if the government couldn’t have used prior restraint to prevent the publication.

    At this point, I’d like to see both the New York Slimes and the LA Slimes in the dock for violations of the Espionage Act and related laws.

  8. FYI for MA: The NYT broke this story at NYT Online before it was published anywhere else. At that point it is hard to blame others, i.e. WSJ, especially when they were still discussing holding the story as the Attorney General requested.

  9. Red Ken #3 is right on when he writes:

    bq. Now some people would be willing to trade liberty for a strongman in the Whitehouse. Like you, these people are essentially cowards.

    That’s not namecalling–it’s speaking Truth To Power.

    Adding to my point, “Patterico”:http://patterico.com/2006/06/23/4758/if-todays-journalists-had-been-around-in-world-war-ii/#comments hearkens back to another so-called “war” the United States was involved in. He imagines what courageous newspapermen Bill Keller and Dean Baquet would have written just before D-Day:

    bq. We have listened closely to President Roosevelt’s arguments for withholding publication of the full details of the Allies’ plans for next week’s invasion of Europe in Northern France. We weighed these arguments carefully, and gave them the most serious and respectful consideration.

    bq. However, we have determined that it was in the public interest to publish these plans.

    bq. We believe that the government’s use of deception in attempting to mislead our enemy concerning the exact location of our invasion raises serious questions about governmental honesty — questions that merit a public airing and debate.

    bq. Additionally, the plans we have published anticipate severe casualties on the part of Allied forces. Publishing the details of such a plan is part of the continuing national debate over the aggressive measures employed by the government in attempting to win the so-called “war on Nazism and fascism.”

    Surely, everyone can see that the world would be a better place if elite reporters and editors had always had free reign to disregard the law and the obligations of citizenship. Thank goodness The Scoop is now rightfully seen as trumping concerns about supposed “terrorists” and “enemies of civilization”–as if such people really existed. I only wish I could express this viewpoint as eloquently as Ken already did.

    [/sarcasm]

  10. Armed Liberal – Right, sorry — I was trying to write something taking off from your condemnation of the WSJ, and noting that this was one of the few posts I’d seen that mentioned it. It got garbled. Sorry.

    Jim Treacher – NRO’s Andy McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor turned crazed fascist (and I don’t use that term lightly; read his stuff on what he wanted the government to do in the Terri Schiavo case, or in anything even remotely related to terrorism, and it’s clear that he’s basically calling for a fascistic degree of government control over our lives), wrote his latest bit of crazed fascism where he said that the War on strawmen terror is being threatened by “privacy fetishists.” I figure if I’m a “privacy fetishists,” then Bush followers are “secrecy fetishists” — they value secrecy above everything else.

  11. Regarding Ken’s comment about a “strongman”…if a newspaper had pulled something like this during the FDR or Truman administrations, the people involved would most certainly have been prosecuted.

    I guess that by Ken’s definition, they must have been “strongmen,” too.

    But all too many of today’s Democrats seem to prefer “weakmen.”

  12. Humble and sincere question to follow:

    I have some experience with international transactions. Given the measures put in place, for example, to prevent the money laundering necessary to narcotrafficing… I never once imagined that my money wires to or from Colombia were private.

    In fact, I never imagined I had a right to such privacy. Do I? What would that right be founded on?

    I don’t get it. Seems like a tempest in a teapot to me.

    I don’t think that publication of this information is particularly damaging. Nor is the program, as AL points out, illegal.

    It just looks like another attempt by the MSM to drum up some scandal and attack the eminently attackable Bush administration.

    Coming next: “The government has a secret program by which it tracks your entry and exit of the United States via the SSN printed in your passport!”

    Who cares?

  13. I commend you for taking a pricipled stand, but this is not enough.

    It is time we take a page from the Jesse Jackson’s of the world and encourage an all out boycott from advertisers.

    I am sure they might miss your half a buck everyday but oh how they will miss the big bucks.

  14. if a newspaper had pulled something like this during the FDR or Truman administrations, the people involved would most certainly have been prosecuted.

    Now that’s just silly. Newspapers did publish formerly secret information during WWII, as they always do, and they weren’t prosecuted, because… well, because before our current insane paranoid time, it was generally understood that the government prosecuting journalists for what they print (even if it’s only for printing super-duper secret stuff) pretty much renders the idea of press freedom irrelevant, in practice if not in theory.

    BTW, if you want to punish the journalists without wrecking the first amendment, why not bring a class-action lawsuit against the Times alleging that your safety, and the safety of all god-fearing Americans, has been endangered by their pinko secret-spilling?

  15. MA…do you actually think that–if a newspaper in 1944 had run an article on British & American breaking of the German Enigma code–they wouldn’t have been prosecuted? What if someone in the late 1950s had run an article on the details of the Polaris missile guidance system?

    Re your point about a civil lawsuit, perhaps the DOJ *should* consider bringing an action to recover the costs of the monitoring program that was illegally divulged. I would think there would be ample precedents in cases involving the disclosure of trade secrets.

    Your throwaway line about “god-fearing Americans” indicates that you are not debating this subject seriously. Terrorist weapons blow up atheists and agnostics, too.

  16. Jim Treacher – NRO’s Andy McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor turned crazed fascist (and I don’t use that term lightly; read his stuff on what he wanted the government to do in the Terri Schiavo case, or in anything even remotely related to terrorism, and it’s clear that he’s basically calling for a fascistic degree of government control over our lives)

    I haven’t, but given that you don’t use the word “fascist” lightly, I take it that Mr. McCarthy wrote that the government should send all Michael Schiavo sympathizers and “weak on terrorism” liberals off to concentration camps, followed a final solution where they’d all be bumped off once and for all? Or perhaps you do use the word “fascist” a wee bit too lightly after all?

  17. I figure if I’m a “privacy fetishists,” then Bush followers are “secrecy fetishists” — they value secrecy above everything else.

    Silly Bush followers! It’s only sporting to tell terrorists exactly how they’re being tracked. Otherwise it’s no fair.

  18. #16 from Wastelandlive

    You are right and I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Why is it that some people accept small invasions of privacy, yet others believe it to be the beginning of the end?

    I don’t want a camera in my home, but I don’t mind a camera in a store. I don’t LIKE businesses selling my personal information, but I don’t mind the government scanning my call records, especially in the name of national security.

    Those that would fight the government’s ability to protect our national interests are cutting off their nose to spite their face. They live in a dream world where everyone plays fair. Terrorists will do whatever it takes. If we aren’t getting that then we are doomed to failure. NYT, LAT, et al… thanks for your help on ferreting out bad businesses and executives that steal from their workers, but we don’t need you hindering our national security efforts just to sell papers.

  19. I read that before D-Day the media were reporting excellent guesses about what the secret plans were, to the point that Eisenhower was concerned. They weren’t printing secrets, they were printing their own guesses.

    It didn’t really matter. The D-Day plans weren’t exactly secret. The germans knew we were planning to attack but they didn’t know exactly when, and they didn’t know exactly where. As I understand it the obvious choice was Calais, so that we’d have a port to supply the invasion from once the port was secured. If we landed at beaches and cliffs then we might get a successful beachhead going but we’d still have to take a port pretty quick. And the germans needed to be ready either way. They sure weren’t going to depend on US newspapers to tell them which alternative we’d do.

    Still, Eisenhower was bothered that the press was guessing too well. So he called a giant press conference. And at that conference he told them all the big details of the plan. Then he told them that what he’d told them was all classified and if they reported any of it they’d be liable for prosecution for treason, a capital sentence. That cut down on the public guessing quite a bit.

    In the current case, certainly they should report it if they think it’s illegal. But if it’s legal, maybe they should report it so the public can decide whether they think it ought to be legal. What people don’t know about they can’t oppose, if it deserves opposition.

    As for the secrecy, it makes no sense to me that any organised secret group would be communicating without cutouts. If they’re that unsophisticated they’re probably easy to catch. So for example, one unit may have a website, and they communicate by changing typos on the title page. Another sends spam — they send a message titled “Hot Stock Tip — New Drug for Better Erections” to 100,000 random mailboxes and one terrorist mailbox. Etc.

    There are so many kinds of cutouts available that it just doesn’t make sense a serious organization would be found by a monitoring program. Even apart from that, there’s no reason to think that the newspapers have published details of any *effective* monitoring program. This whole uproar could all be Kabuki. The press announce an ineffective program that doesn’t catch terrorists. The administration makes a big deal about how important it is. The terrorists laugh because that program could never catch them — they don’t know about the other programs. Liberals get upset about the increased government interference, not knowing that the particular program they’ve heard about has already been abandoned for nonperformance. Conservatives get upset that people found out what the government was doing, not realising that all the important secrets are still secret.

    Just another brick in the wall.

  20. given that you don’t use the word “fascist” lightly, I take it that Mr. McCarthy wrote that the government should send all Michael Schiavo sympathizers and “weak on terrorism” liberals off to concentration camps, followed a final solution where they’d all be bumped off once and for all? Or perhaps you do use the word “fascist” a wee bit too lightly after all?

    I said “fascist,” not Nazi. The word “fascist” may be kind of vague (as Orwell said, it means “something not desirable”), but it doesn’t require concentration camps or mass murder; it merely requires an absolutist desire for total, unchecked control over every aspect of our lives by a powerful executive.

    Silly Bush followers! It’s only sporting to tell terrorists exactly how they’re being tracked. Otherwise it’s no fair.

    Again, the dumb rhetorical trick of assuming that these programs only track “terrorists.” As far as I can tell, they’re tracking everybody, without any of the mechanisms that are supposed to curb abuses (oversight by the courts and full Congressional committees, and so on). I’m not a terrorist; I don’t want the government tracking me; can I opt out?

    Anyway, the point of “secrecy fetishism” is that it assumes that everything is better the more it’s a secret. So the Bush administration assumes that they’ll have a better chance of catching Muslamonazi Terrorizers ™ if they keep the programs a secret from the courts and Congress. I tend to assume that all this secrecy does nothing but invite abuse. And of course we don’t know if these programs have been abused because there’s no mechanism for stopping abuses (and the Bush administration wants to keep them out of the courts, which are supposed to do just that).

    Moreover, laws like FISA were put in place because Presidents like Johnson and Nixon abused programs like these. So as of right now I tend to assume that the Bush administration has been abusing these programs, and that any investigation would reveal that. Though since the Democrats probably won’t take back Congress (Congress doesn’t usually change hands in a second term; it didn’t in 1966 even when Johnson was very unpopular) we probably won’t know for sure until after Bush is out of office, when word will trickle out about which abuses were committed.

    However, I agree with one thing that’s been said here: this is not anywhere near the worst of the programs that’s been revealed, and may not, on its own, be all that bad. (As part of a pattern of avoiding oversight, on the other hand…) That’s probably why the Kossacks haven’t gone wild over this particular revelation, making it the odd case of a Risen/Lichtblau story that actually provokes more interest on the right.

  21. MA’s comment on “strawman terror” is indicative of Dems today.

    The believe 9/11 didn’t happen, or if it did we deserved it, or alternatively it was the “JEWS!!!” and evil Chimpy McBushitler. Remarkably, just like Muslims world-wide (according to the latest Pew Poll, Muslims world-wide believe at the same time that “the Jews” were responsible for 9/11″ or that it never happened).

    We have plots to blow up the Sears Tower and Miami FBI HQ. Plots to fly planes into Canary Wharf. We’ve had bombings (twice) in Bali, in Istanbul, in Tripoli, in Bangladesh, in Thailand, in London (twice), in Madrid, in Amman, and Egypt.

    To deny that Muslims at home and abroad want nothing more than “to kill as many devils (Americans) as possible is like denying the world is round.” It moves.

    That Louis J. Freeh in the WSJ (a very liberal paper in it’s news, as distinct from editorial coverage*) would flat out say that Clinton, Sandy Berger, and Madeline Albright all tried to prevent him from investigating the links between Iran and Khobar Towers bombing, and when the FBI finally proved that Iran ordered it, controlled it, paid for it, and had the involvement of top Iranian officials, suppressed that information says it all.

    *A recent study comparing news sources cites (Freedom House, ACLU, Amnesty International, Heritage Foundation) by Senators rated by the ADA and Heritage Foundation with newspapers found the WSJ VERY Liberal in it’s news coverage. PBS suprisingly middle-of-the-road. NPR much less so. And so forth.

    You can have legitimate differences with GWB. But to deny that millions of Muslims around the world want to kill us and actively plot to do so is denial of the deepest sort. It’s why Dems simply cannot be trusted with National Security in any way. Clinton (and the stinging indictment of his actions in protecting Iran by Freeh) is the case in point.

  22. Again, the dumb rhetorical trick of assuming that these programs only track “terrorists.”

    Thank you for putting the word in quotes. I’d almost forgotten that such people don’t really exist.

  23. Only J could write something like the following:

    In the current case, certainly they should report it if they think it’s illegal. But if it’s legal, maybe they should report it so the public can decide whether they think it ought to be legal.

    without his head exploding.

  24. As far as I can tell, they’re tracking everybody, without any of the mechanisms that are supposed to curb abuses (oversight by the courts and full Congressional committees, and so on).

    Well, they’re not tracking everybody now, but they could someday. Whew! Glad we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

  25. Reading through the commentary here it becomes glaringly obvious that the conservatives have all but declared war on America’s most cherished values. The free press being the first and formost target of the right wing jihadist.

    But not to worry. America is better than they are, we are stronger, we are smarter, we are braver, and we are determined to protect our beloved country from their demented impulse to destroy this nation.

    Are there any decent conservatives left? Will not a single one of you stand up, shoulder to shoulder with America’s liberals, and defend the right of a free press, defend our values, defend our nation?

  26. Reading through the commentary here it becomes glaringly obvious that the conservatives have all but declared war on America’s most cherished values. The free press being the first and formost target of the right wing jihadist.

    But not to worry. America is better than they are, we are stronger, we are smarter, we are braver, and we are determined to protect our beloved country from their demented impulse to destroy this nation.

    Are there any decent conservatives left? Will not a single one of you stand up, shoulder to shoulder with America’s liberals, and defend the right of a free press, defend our values, defend our nation?

    There’s some sort of coded message in here that actually makes sense, right?

  27. Pleas spare us the sanctimonous horseshit about a free press. The notion of a “free press” is a crock when that press becomes a partisan instrument bent on bringing down the government, and a tyrannical entity that arrogates to itself the power to unilaterally declassify and publish information that our elected government has determined should be secret.

    There are laws for “whistleblowers” in federal agencies who are concerned about possible illegalities. They’re supposed to take their claims to Congress and have immunity from prosecution if they do so. They are not allowed to take that information to the unleected starchamber of the editorial board of the New York Times. We don’t NEED a “free press” to protect us from abusive government. That’s what our ELECTED Congress is supposed to do. Not an UNELECTED press. If honest people within the government are willing to leak to the press they should be just as willing to report to Congress their concerns.

    Let me ask all you civil libertarians a question. If you don’t approve of this Administration’s actions you can vote it out in the next election. Where do I go to vote out the editors of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal if I do not approve of their unilateral decisions to reveal state secrets? Is this not a tyranny? Are you not just the least bit uncomfortable with unelected, unaccountable people making such determinations?

  28. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a look of misery and dejection on the face of my daughter as I just did a moment ago. She just couldn’t understand why right wing jihadis would put all of our loved ones at risk. “Even Aunt May?” she asked pitifully. I sat down with her on the sofa and (as calmly as I could) tried to explain to her why the press corps was being rounded up, and Aunty May too. After a moment I just broke down and sobbed. She was braver, stronger and probably smarter than I was. She held me while I cried and after an hour or so I felt better.

  29. Ken,

    The answer to #30 is a simple nope…

    Why should I trust our free press any more than I should trust TruthOut…

    I have no faith in our MSM. I read and watch and listen like I would have to Pravda.

    I NEVER want to hear about something from an unimpeachable, super top secret, anonymous source like Burket or worse a completely phonied up source drawn from the fantasy mind of a Jason Leopold.

    Give me a reason to cherish an irresponsible free press.

    The ‘free press’ will survive, it just won’t be the monolithic mouthpieces we know as the NYT, LAT, CBS, ABC, and NBC. They offer nothing to the debate.

  30. Ken,
    There has never prevailed, in the history of the United States, the idea that the “free press” had no responsibility for the consequences of what it wrote.

    Therefore, we are “declaring war” not on the principle of a free press, but on your warped fantasy of a press without responsibility.

  31. “Let me ask all you civil libertarians a question.”

    There are no civil libertarians on the Left. They only pretend to be in a very few instances when it’s convenient for them. It’s only a battering ram for them to make up for their complete inability to logically defend any of their positions. Shock value to try and intimidate their opponenets into silence. A classic example is seen above. Some people voluntarily cancel their subscriptions to a single newspaper. In their fantasy world that means the Right is trying to destroy the free press and we are once again a smidgen away from being a full blown fascist state.

  32. And, next month – and every month thereafter – the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times will publish the encryption keys for military communication.

    Because you have the right to know.

    Maybe some Admiral wants to buy a brass screwdriver for $700 or something.

    And, the peace loving minutemen in Iraq and Afghanistan need to be able to read our message traffic – to stop the unjustified murders taking place.

    It was a very difficult decision – and, American heroes may fall. But, we unilaterally made this decision because in our judgment it was the right thing to do.

  33. J. Thomas #23:

    I’m unfamiliar with the story you relate about Eisenhower and D-Day–I suspect it’s apocryphal. But here is a very timely account of an episode dating from 1942. It is excerpted from the article “Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=12103025_1 by Gabriel Schoenfeld in the March 2006 Commentary online magazine. (I am unfamiliar with the author and the magazine, but this piece seems legitimate.) The cite comes by way of commenter andrewdb from “Patterico’s Pontifications.”:http://patterico.com/2006/06/23/4758/if-todays-journalists-had-been-around-in-world-war-ii/#comments

    bq. Although it has gone almost entirely undiscussed, the issue of leaking vital government secrets in wartime remains of exceptional relevance to this entire controversy [Schoenfeld is referring to the previous NYT secret-program disclosure–AMac], as it does to our very security. There is a rich history here that can help shed light on the present situation.

    bq. One of the most pertinent precedents is a newspaper story that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 7, 1942, immediately following the American victory in the battle of Midway in World War II. In a front-page article under the headline, “Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea,” the Tribune disclosed that the strength and disposition of the Japanese fleet had been “well known in American naval circles several days before the battle began.” The paper then presented an exact description of the imperial armada, complete with the names of specific Japanese ships and the larger assemblies of vessels to which they were deployed. All of this information was attributed to “reliable sources in . . . naval intelligence.”

    bq. The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the Tribune article was that the United States had broken Japanese naval codes and was reading the enemy’s encrypted communications. Indeed, cracking JN-25, as it was called, had been one of the major Allied triumphs of the Pacific war, laying bare the operational plans of the Japanese Navy almost in real time and bearing fruit not only at Midway—a great turning point of the war—but in immediately previous confrontations, and promising significant advantages in the terrible struggles that still lay ahead. Its exposure, a devastating breach of security, thus threatened to extend the war indefinitely and cost the lives of thousands of American servicemen.

    bq. An uproar ensued in those quarters in Washington that were privy to the highly sensitive nature of the leak. The War Department and the Justice Department raised the question of criminal proceedings against the Tribune under the Espionage Act of 1917. By August 1942, prosecutors brought the paper before a federal grand jury. But fearful of alerting the Japanese, and running up against an early version of what would come to be known as graymail, the government balked at providing jurors with yet more highly secret information that would be necessary to demonstrate the damage done.

    bq. Thus, in the end, the Tribune managed to escape criminal prosecution. For their part, the Japanese either never got wind of the story circulating in the United States or were so convinced that their naval codes were unbreakable that they dismissed its significance. In any case, they left them unaltered, and their naval communications continued to be read by U.S. and British cryptographers until the end of the war.

    Ken #30 and M.A. #24, this is your cue to mock the secrecy fascists and fetishists of those days gone by. Or you could, y’know, present an argument…

  34. #30 from ken:

    “Are there any decent conservatives left? Will not a single one of you stand up, shoulder to shoulder with America’s liberals, and defend the right of a free press, defend our values, defend our nation?”

    America’s liberals can’t even agree about whether they should include God somewhere in there platform. They are in bed with the “free press”, have no values other than saving America from those who would like to not see babies slaughtered in the womb, and cannot even see that we are at war, or at least that someone is at war with us. I’m not sorry, Ken, that I don’t fit your definition of a “decent conservative,” but I am sorry that you lack the understanding of the word “decent.”

  35. Let me try this again… I’m appealing to those of you grinding the free press/civil liberties act.

    Do you honestly believe that you or any part of the general public has access to all activities of the government?

    Should you? Should the public get a chance to debate all CIA black ops, for example, even if legal, so that we can decide if the laws authorizing them are good?

    Should classified material even exist?

    If the MSM hadn’t framed this in terms of some stunning revalation and violation of privacy rights (which we don’t actually have) would we even be discussing this?

    WHAT LAW WAS BROKEN?

    Thanks.

  36. Well, they’re not tracking everybody now, but they could someday. Whew! Glad we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

    Jim, how would you know one way or another?

  37. I said “fascist,” not Nazi. The word “fascist” may be kind of vague (as Orwell said, it means “something not desirable”), but it doesn’t require concentration camps or mass murder; it merely requires an absolutist desire for total, unchecked control over every aspect of our lives by a powerful executive.

    None of which is remotely implicated here. I think you gave away the game with your alleged Orwell quote: “fascist” means nothing more or less than “M.A. no likey.”

  38. I’m unfamiliar with the story you relate about Eisenhower and D-Day–I suspect it’s apocryphal.

    I woudn’t swear by it. I’m pretty sure I found it in a Reader’s Digest magazine from the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. Sure, I saw it in print, but is that a reputable source?

    One of the articles from 1945 talked about US deserters who tied up a french man and raped his wife and daughters in front of him. The US army would have gladly hanged them if it could find them, but it couldn’t so all we could do was offer medical treatment for the women. I think the article said there were tens of thousands of incidents like that and it was a bad thing.

    For their part, the Japanese either never got wind of the story circulating in the United States or were so convinced that their naval codes were unbreakable that they dismissed its significance. In any case, they left them unaltered, and their naval communications continued to be read by U.S. and British cryptographers until the end of the war.

    I once met an ex-CIA agent living in Maryland, who claimed that he was currently making a living sending important information to several town councils in Utah. Every day he’d read the Washington Post and clip the articles he thought they’d find interesting and mail those articles to them. This required that he buy several copies of the Washington Post every day. I couldn’t imagine that a town council in Utah would spend significant money for something like that. It just didn’t make sense, they could subscribe to the WP themselves. It was a little before the time they could get it online and search for whatever keywords they wanted, but still…. And sure enough, about a month later he’d lost all his jobs with them, and when the eviction notice came the person I knew who’d been subletting from him found that he’d been living off the rent she provided him and not paying any rent at all to the landlady.

    If the japanese had only hired a few spies to read the US newspapers and send them reports, maybe they could have kept the war going for months longer. Who knows, maybe a whole year. But it seems they didn’t. They probably assumed the US media would be full of disinformation like theirs was. So they missed out on the occasional real report mixed in with the disinformation.

  39. For those interested in the Midway/Chicago Tribune precedent to the present case, there’s an excellent paper online:

    “‘That man of ours in Tokyo':The Midway code scandal, the press, and national security.”:http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:im1eEGInV1EJ:foi.missouri.edu/controls/vultee.doc+japan+midway+jn-25+chicago+tribune+1942&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=5

    This is a term paper by Fred Vultee (who now “blogs)”:http://headsuptheblog.blogspot.com/ from Prof. Charles Davis’ Fall 2003 “Controls of Information” Class at the Missouri School of Journalism.

    Uncanny parallels, in some of the details as well as with the overall context of the competing overall narratives.

  40. Can someone please explain to Idiot Jim the difference between ‘freedom’ of the press and ‘responsibility’ of the press?

  41. Welcome to the club!

    That the modern “media” is so out of touch and ignorant about even the most basic elements of military culture, yet will make every attempt to understand and wring their hands over how to nuance the Terrorists position, speaks “truth to power” in regards to whose side they are on in this war.

    You should all read this The rank and file military is not pleased with the NYTimes, LATimes, WSJ ect.

  42. Oh and Scrappleface today:

    (2006-06-24) — A secret New York Times program for fighting ‘the war on the war on terror’ represents a “radical expansion of executive editor authority” according to a legal analyst who studied the parameters of the “intel sifting and sharing program” that the Times uses to disseminate U.S. national security information to international terror groups…

  43. If we don’t give over our bank records and our phone conversations then the terrorists will have won. Hey, pretend the Administration is instead tracking guns and ammo purchases. Now do you see how we feel?

  44. AJL: “Hey, pretend the Administration is instead tracking guns and ammo purchases. Now do you see how we feel?”

    Not really. But then, I’m not an international arms dealer.

    How ’bout you, AJ?

    Geeze. You guys are so easily manipulated. I give up.

  45. Freedom of the press from the New York Times. They are such hypocrites. They complain about corporate welfare but tell the NYC they are moving unless they get some tax breaks on their new building. Also, didn’t they use eminent domain to get some of the land.

    The NYT complain about the estate tax needs to be kept. If Punch and Pinch both die tomorrow, does anyone really believe this family will be paying their “fair share” or 55% of their estate. The NYT argues for a higher minimum wage but I’m sure they have employees who don’t make minimum wage.

    The NYT complains about how corportaions need to be more transparent and make availble how much their top employees make. When the NYT was asked about Judy Millers exit package, the NYT said we need to keep that secret.

    Free press. Don’t make me laugh.

  46. Ken opines:
    “If I had to chose between a free press that printed things the government wanted secret and a press that withheld information from me every time the government claimed it was a matter of national security I would take my chances with the free press every time.
    But that is what makes me an American.”

    No, that makes you a fool, Ken.
    In the middle of WW2, we cracked the Japanese Naval Code. The government wanted this kept secret, of course. You would want it published, just to prove some twisted notion of freedom of the press.

    What a tool……

  47. Try me, Gabriel.

    Which should the government have more records on: Personal checks, telephone calls, or gun purchases?

    Do you think a terrorist cell in the USA would find it useful to have easy access to guns?

    Maybe if I started a whole blog dedicated to the idea (which, JTFR, I don’t believe) that individuals’ access to guns was so 9/10 thinking.

    You guys are so panicked out you’re willing to make permanent changes—changes that, actually, you prefer take place without your knowledge in the relationship of American citizens to their government. Indeed, the Cheney Administration has been a lot better at acquiring new powers to snoop, torture, invade, and so forth than at anything I’ve noticed about American security.

    What I would like best, if I didn’t have to live in this country, is watching the snivelings writhing in terror calling people with a traditional American attitude towards civil liberties fools, unrealists, cowards, and traitors. If the shoe fits…

  48. AJL: “You guys are so panicked out you’re willing to make permanent changes—changes that, actually, you prefer take place without your knowledge in the relationship of American citizens to their government.”

    Which “change” is this thread about?

    When were your international financial transactions kept private from the governments involved, AJL?

    Why won’t anybody answer this question?

  49. But Andrew, they don’t have more data about phone calls or bank transactions. They have different data, and they keep it for different amounts of time. But I give lots of information every time I buy a gun, and I show my license every time I buy ammunition.

    There is also no one suggesting that you be precluded from using the phone or banks, and no history of people using phone or bank records to find and confiscate the certificates of deposit that a group or population holds.

    So nice reach, but no.

    And when you talk about a permanent change in the relationship of American citizens to our government, are you talkiing relative to the 19th century (Civil War abandonment of habeas corpus), early 20th century (sedition acts) or the mid 20th century (office of press censorship)??

    You’re a smart guy who argues well, and the core issues you raise are absolutely legitmate ones that need to be considered. If yoy granted the same to the other side of the argument (and added some historical context) I think we’d have a damn good discussion.

    A.L.

  50. AMac, that paper is a good find. It points up how FDR and at least some of the press did not like each other at all. Some things don’t change.

    Somewhat off topic, but Clausen’s “book”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0306810352/qid=1151210109/sr=1-13/ref=sr_1_13/002-4191799-3910459?s=books&v=glance&n=283155 discussing his part in the the final War Dept. investigation of Pearl Harbor (at the Congressional hearings and the Board of Inquiry the people with cryptographic oaths had committed perjury, as indeed the crypto oaths required of them) indicates that the Japanese continued to use their codes through the end of the war.

    After the war, Congress held hearings and the Japanese goverment became aware we had been and were still reading their mail. The Japanese promptly changed their codes. General McArthur, head of the US occupation forces, was not pleased.

    Imagine – Congress disclosing secrets, too. Some things never change.

  51. Can someone please explain to Idiot Jim the difference between ‘freedom’ of the press and ‘responsibility’ of the press?

    Who, me? I thought I knew already, but go ahead.

  52. AJL: you still continue to misrepresent the issue at hand. I’ll just assume you are ignorant and leave it at that.

    Do any modicum of research on what SWIFT is, and maybe you won’t come off as a total fool. And honestly, do we really have to go over the whole NSA thing again, or will you and your ilk just continue the mantra of “it’s illegal wiretapping” even when its not.

  53. Not noted here so far:

    The WW2 leakers in the press were Republican backers.

    It is almost always an ins vs outs issue.

    BTW to the above posters – good review of the Midway stuff – other than the political angle. And a minor note: the leak was from an embed aboard ship who had not been sworn to secrecy. That all changed after Midway.

  54. # 61 M. Simon

    I’m curious. Just how did the embed aboard ship in the Pacific communicate his scoop to the newspaper?

  55. I found “something on Ike in WW2,”:http://www.gonomad.com/armchairtravel/2006/02/experiement-i-would-not-particularly.html though not D-Day.

    bq. “The broad outline of the Sicilian campaign was announced to our press representatives one month before it took place,” says Ike.”This unprecedented step was taken, paradoxically, to preserve secrecy.”

    bq. “During periods of combat inactivity, reporters have a habit of filling up their stories with speculation,” he continues, “and since after some months of experience in a war theater, any newsman acquires considerable skill in interpreting coming events, the danger was increased that soon the enemy would have our plans almost in detail.

    bq. “Because of the confidence I had acquired in the integrity of mewsmen in my theater, I decided to take them into my confidence. The experiment was one which I would not particularly like to repeat, because such revelation does place a burden upon the man whose first responsibility is to conceal the secret. But I did succeed in placing upon every reporter in the theater a feeling of the same responsibility that I and my associates bore.

    bq. “Success was complete,” Ike concludes. “From that moment onward, until after the attack was launched, nothing speculative came out of the theater and no representative of the press attempted to send out anything that could possibly be of any value to the enemy.”

    This came from a blog quoting a book, “The Man Who Never Was” by Ewen Montagu. Maybe it didn’t happen but at least there’s a source. Without finding the Reader’s Digest article I can’t show whether it was Reader’s Digest or me that switched it to D-Day.

  56. bigpossum #62:

    Here is Fred Vultee’s tongue-in-cheek summary of what is known of the circumstances surrounding Chicago Tribune reporter Stanley Johnston’s front-page story on Midway. Quoting from “his 2003 paper:”:http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache%3Aim1eEGInV1EJ%3Afoi.missouri.edu%2Fcontrols%2Fvultee.doc+japan+midway+jn-25+chicago+tribune+1942&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=5

    bq. Intrepid Tribune reporter, returning to the West Coast with other survivors of the Coral Sea battle, is honored for his bravery aboard a stricken aircraft carrier with the confidences of common sailors (or a bored friend showed him a secret cable, or he stole a look at a document left unattended on a desk in the captain’s cabin). Back at the home office, working from the sailors’ tales, his own experience and his dog-eared copy of Jane’s Fighting Ships, he puzzles out the enemy order of battle (or it was laid out for him in the cable; in yet another popular version, he names the ships entirely by accident) to flesh out a fragmentary AP report. His paper proclaims an innocent story of a smashing victory to the American public (its headline – “Navy had word” – belies that version from the outset). Summoned to Washington (or asking the chance to explain), reporter and editor, baffled by the furor, lay out their sources in full (or stick with their story of injured innocence, suggesting in the bargain that falsifying dateline and attribution was “common practice, and newspaper men all over the United States follow it”). After all, the reporter had never been asked to sign a routine security pledge (undisputed). The Navy grits its teeth and hopes nothing will come of a story published only in the Midwest (though it appeared the same day in the largest papers in New York and Washington). But after commentator Walter Winchell takes to the air to denounce the Tribune for revealing military secrets (which he proceeds to suggest in broad outline himself), officials have no choice but to press for prosecution (read another way, one Chicago press baron seizes on his wartime position to finally do down another).

    bq. Eventually, a grand jury declines to return indictments because no crime has been established (or the Navy backs out at the last minute and refuses to provide testimony who could have made that case). Through Navy pressure, the rousing story of American derring-do is covered up; details of a critical victory will be kept from the public (a surprise not only to readers of Life, whose Aug. 31 cover featured the lone survivor of a torpedo squadron that had been chewed to bits at Midway, but to director John Ford, whose on-scene footage from the battle made for an Oscar-winning documentary). And the world is safe; the Japanese never notice (codebreaking, after all, led to the ambush of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto a year later – but then, whence Tokyo’s August 1942 request to its embassy in Lisbon for back copies of the Tribune?). But the reporter, at the least, had clearly violated the Espionage Act (or, worse, was guilty of treason – or, as the Tribune has maintained ever since, violated neither letter nor spirit of any law or policy).

    Humor and confusion aside, Vultee does a great job in the remainder of the paper in terms of constructing a footnoted narrative outlining what (likely) actually transpired. Johnston’s reporting did betray the Navy’s most important secret. All astute observers were able to deduce from his report that the US had broken JN-25. Amazingly, only the Japanese high command failed to connect the dots.

    Fast-forwarding, readers of “Tom Maguire’s blog”:http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2006/03/armitage_woodwa.html now know who leaked Valerie Plame’s name to the press (not Carl Rove, but Richard Armitage, Deputy Secty. of State). The process that answered Plamegate’s questions from a historical (if not a criminal-conviction) point of view could be used to advantage with the NYT/LAT betrayal of the SWIFT program. Why not offer Eric Lichtblau and the other Pulitzer-sniffing Jimmy Olsons the same accomodations that prosecuter Fitzgerald granted to Judith Miller? Accompanied by the same offer of freedom in exchange for testimony.

    We can take it for granted that the institutional culture of American newsrooms will put nearly no value on “the war on terror” (or whatever one calls The Current Difficulties). The identites of the multitude of leakers and enablers in the intelligence, defense, and financial communities looks like the real prize. With sufficient public outrage, they are discoverable.

  57. AMac # 64

    Thanks. I read the entire Vultee paper and found it fascinating. My problem is (or was) with the timeline. Johnston was obviously at sea headed for the West Coast when he read the cable on May 31. When the ship docked is unknown. Assuming travel by rail he doesn’t have much time. On June 6th he is sitting at his desk in Chicago writing his account of the Battle of the Coral Sea (published in the Trib 6/13) when word arrives that the navy has just fought and won a battle at Midway. He tells the editor that he has some knowledge that will flesh out the report which was published on June 7. This means he did not telegraph or phone his report on code breaking from the West Coast but carried it back to Chicago in his head, an indication that he did not think it pressing or important until word came about Midway. Johnston admitted that the cable didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know. So in his mind he wasn’t leaking anything. Also, the cable he saw only mentioned the Japanese intent to attack Midway, not the order of battle to be employed. He used his own experience and knowledge of Jane’s for that.

  58. #62,

    I don’t have my Midway book (Prange) handy. However, I believe it was communicated when the embed reached shore.

    The Prange account says the embed was shown some traffic by a friendly radio man and he deduced from what he saw that the code had been broken.

  59. #64,

    I believe it was ascertained that the embed did not violate any rules.

    The Government decided not to make an issue of it hoping the japs wouldn’t notice. They didn’t.

    Subsequently the rules for embeds was changed and their copy censored.

  60. Given the codes used at the time occasional breaks were expected – the opposition might get lucky. The Japs if they credited a break figured it was through espionage or luck not systematic.

  61. What fooled the Japanese is that post Peal Harbor they got sloppy with security, both communications and need to know.

    I believe their thinking was that a break in radio silence by the attacking force (which did not happen for the 7 Dec attack) was responsible.

    The Americans did not note the radio silence break.

  62. I’ve read all the anti-American talking points given by the conservatives and I have to say I am not convinced. I still would rather stand up for American values than surrender our freedom to these contempatable conservatives with their hands on the levers of power.

    Their way is the cowards way.

    This has been a long thread. The following is the last word on this subject:

    “No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

  63. It seems pretty clear to me that if our government is secretly collecting information on its citizens without their knowledge, it is in the best interests of the citizenry to know about that.

    What is especially worrisome is that this is but one of a number of intrusions into the private lives of US citizens under the rubric of “fighting terrorism”.

    I also don’t see how disclosing this info provides anything to terrorist organizations that they woudn’t already have assumed.

    The line is not quite as bright as you seem to think AL. I’m glad the LA Times and the the NY Times disclosed the program.

    I have sent an email to both journals telling them that I strongly support their efforts on this issue.

    The US government simply has to find ways to fight the terrorists within the confines of our open and Democratic society. If Democracy impedes this fight, then the first solution should not be to restrict the very freedoms that make our Democracy worth fighting for.

    You are clearly on the side of those who are more willing to trade freedom for security. I am not.

    If our current system cannot support such an effort, then perhaps the slogan of the good folk of New Hampshire should be recalled…Live Free or Die.

    We can be both tough and smart. The current administration has plenty of the former, and far too little of the latter.

  64. Suppose an Iraq vet who believes his life is recklessly endangered by the actions of prize seeking reporters and/or secrets-leaking public officials commits assault and battery on aforesaid persons? Would such vet have a defense in law or equity? Would juries convict? If convicted, would mitigation reduce the penalty to nothing? Endless academic disputations have their place, but self-help has been/is the case when the State fails in its duties. (ex.- border control)

  65. Walter — the SWIFT program covers only NGO and Corporate transfers. Not individual ones.

    Besides, the IRS looks into every nook and cranny of your life anyway to find tax cheaters. What you’re saying is that you want to give every notice to Jihadis on how to move money around so they can kill Americans.

  66. _The US government simply has to find ways to fight the terrorists within the confines of our open and Democratic society. _

    Interesting to see that Walter’s Ridge places all the responisibility for fighting terrorists on the government, while reserving all rights for himself and other individuals.

    I rather think that we are in this together – or need to be, if two decades from now we are not to face a slide into barbarism.

  67. #70 from ken:

    “I’ve read all the anti-American talking points given by the conservatives and I have to say I am not convinced…Their way is the cowards way.”

    Ken,

    I would be interested to know how YOU would protect our lives (remember, “life” comes before “liberty”) from those you don’t apparently think are at war with us. You can go ahead and live in your fantasy world thinking that the only threat to America is the conservative agenda as you define it. It is astounding the level of denial some people have. If you won’t change your mind, Ken, then please keep talking. Your ramblings should serve as a warning to those on the fence. Only one political party, despite its numerous faults, is serious about protecting this nation against internal and external threats. Oh, and just because you can quote Thomas Jefferson doesn’t mean you have any clue what he was talking about.

  68. Only one political party, despite its numerous faults, is serious about protecting this nation against internal and external threats.

    Which one is that? Libertarians or Greens? Somebody else?

    Democrats don’t talk like they’re serious while Republicans have shown us conclusively that they aren’t serious.

  69. “I’ve read all the anti-American talking points given by the conservatives and I have to say I am not convinced. I still would rather stand up for American values than surrender our freedom to these contempatable conservatives with their hands on the levers of power.

    Their way is the cowards way.”

    I read that and decided to order Ann Coulter’s new book. It’s #1 on the NYT best seller list you know.

  70. “I did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”

    J Thomas,

    Do you think it is just luck that we haven’t been attacked on our soil in almost 5 years? I bet Zarqawi thinks we are serious. Cut and run is a Democrat approach.

  71. I’m more interested in prosecuting the government leakers who, assumably, took an oath to protect confidential information upon accepting their security clearance. No leakers, no story. Seems pretty simply to me.

  72. I too am perplexed as to why Gonzales has sat idly by while leak after leak has damaged our National Security programs. On the face of it, there appears to be genuine collusion between rogue elements within State/CIA/DoD and the various anti-Bush media.

    Someone please, re-animate J. Edgar Hoover post haste.

  73. Do you think it is just luck that we haven’t been attacked on our soil in almost 5 years?

    OK, John Not Kerry, at the end of the Clinton Administration we hadn’t been attacked domestically for 7 years. Are you ascribing that to the excellent security work of the Clintonites?

    Incidentally, you might check out a place called London, where they had a terror attack notwithstandinng a foreign policy lamentably similar to our own.

    You know, an fox caught in a trap is smart enough to cut it’s own limb and run, except I suppose a Republican fox. More of the Same: daily bombings, soldiers dying, civilians killed, the populace alienated, no wonder you have to cast aspersions on alternative policies… You might also look at the fact our own Iraqi puppets seem to be tiring of our presence.

  74. Do you think it is just luck that we haven’t been attacked on our soil in almost 5 years?

    Napoleon said, “Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.”. You think maybe the enemy heard that one?

  75. I only know that our enemies (although I am shocked that you even think we have any) are being killed and captured in other countries (well other than the cells we have rolled up here). Our enemies might just be biding their time until Democrats get back in power (outside of the media anyway).

  76. #83 from J Thomas:

    ‘Napoleon said, “Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.”. You think maybe the enemy heard that one?’

    I aggree with Napoleon. I think Murtha, Pel;osi, Boxer, Kerry, McKinney, et al, should be given all the air time they want to continue to say anything they want without a critical word from their lackeys in the MSM. After all, just look at their electoral track record from 2000 until now. I am willing to give them more “moral victories” like Paul Hackett in Ohio and Busby in California!

  77. #85,

    It seems like “pull out now the war is lost” is what the Dems are running on this year. Here in the Rock River Valley the Dem challenger to Don Manzullo is running on that very platform.

    Most pollsters say the Dems will gain seats in this election. I don’t believe it.

  78. Whaaat? Not sure where you came up with the term “all”.

    Walter, it’s two-valued logic. If someone has a firm solid position, and you disagree with him, then if he’s prone to two-valued thinking he’ll naturally suppose that you take the opposite stand about everything.

    And any time you point out an area of agreement he’ll suppose that you’re making a concession, perhaps a concession to reality.

  79. Anyone catch the “voice of the people” Russ Fiengold on MTP this weekend. A walking disgrace if ever there was one. The Democratic party has become a parody.

    For all the problems with the GOP, the incompetence, the cronyism, the mismanagement and inability to capitalize on political victories, and the shirking of their core principles, the Dems continue to prove their absolute lack of capability. As bad as the GOP may be, the Dems have continue to prove to the American public that they are worse.

  80. Time to get rid of both these parties and establish new ones.

    When the GOP and the Democrats are both third parties they’ll either clean themselves up or fade away. Any bets on which they do?

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