Global War on TerrorPolitics

NSA Leak Case Watch: New York Times’ Reporter James Risen

Michelle Malkin has HOW THE NYTIMES IS RINGING IN 2006

Yes, it’s New Year’s Eve. And since there’s no rest for the NYTimes, I’m not taking it easy tonight either.

You see, NYTimes’ reporter James Risen has been a busy bee over the holidays. The co-author of the infamous Chicken Little opus exposing the NSA special collection program to monitor international communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives and their contacts will be launching his new book, State of War, on January 3.

Flap covered the original story, NSA Surveillance Watch: President Bush defends Spying as “A Necessary Part of My Job to Protect” Americans from Attack and asked the question why this story was leaked at this time, after a year long agreed upon hold.

Was it because of the vote on the re-authorization of the Patriot ACt? Or was it, as it is NOW revealed, because James Risen, the New York Times co-author of the expose wanted to “break” the story prior to the release of his book?

U.S. President George W. Bush answers a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington December 19, 2005. Bush vowed on Monday to authorize more eavesdropping on Americans suspected of ties to terrorists and said he believed a probe was underway into who committed ‘the shameful act’ of revealing the covert program.

Turns out the publisher of Risen’s new book, which includes a discussion of NSA eavesdropping, has moved up the publication date to this coming Tuesday. (It was originally scheduled for release in mid-January.)

NYT ombudsman Byron Calame lets us all know that he’s having trouble getting any information out of his bosses and colleagues.

From Byron Calame:

THE New York Times’s explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper’s repeated pledges of greater transparency.

For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush’s secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States.

I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future…

…On the larger question of why the eavesdropping article finally appeared when it did, a couple of possibilities intrigue me.

One is that Times editors said they discovered there was more concern inside the government about the eavesdropping than they had initially been told. Mr. Keller’s prepared statements said that “a year ago,” officials “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.” So the paper “agreed not to publish at that time” and continued reporting.

But in the months that followed, Mr. Keller said, “we developed a fuller picture of the concerns and misgivings that had been expressed during the life of the program” and “it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood.”

The impact of a new book about intelligence by Mr. Risen on the timing of the article is difficult to gauge. The book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” was not mentioned in the Dec. 16 article. Mr. Keller asserted in the shorter of his two statements that the article wasn’t timed to the forthcoming book, and that “its origins and publication are completely independent of Jim’s book.”

The publication of Mr. Risen’s book, with its discussion of the eavesdropping operation, was scheduled for mid-January – but has now been moved up to Tuesday. Despite Mr. Keller’s distancing of The Times from “State of War,” Mr. Risen’s publisher told me on Dec. 21 that the paper’s Washington bureau chief had talked to her twice in the previous 30 days about the book.

So it seems to me the paper was quite aware that it faced the possibility of being scooped by its own reporter’s book in about four weeks. But the key question remains: To what extent did the book cause top editors to shrug off the concerns that had kept them from publishing the eavesdropping article for months?

A final note: If Mr. Risen’s book or anything else of substance should open any cracks in the stone wall surrounding the handling of the eavesdropping article, I will have my list of 28 questions (35 now, actually) ready to e-mail again to Mr. Keller…

This response is unacceptable and a “cop-out.” Flap looks forward to Mr. Keller’s responses to the questions and more importantly the sworn testimony he gives to the Department of Justice when they throw his craven ass into federal prison for failing to release the name of his government sources for the story.

Nahhhhh he will probably give them up…….like Judith Miller. A cold prison cell works well on an individual’s disposition to revealing state secrets.

Michelle asks for Calame to publish his questions……. and presumably Keller’s answers.

Yeah! Fat Chance!

Hey, speaking of transparency, why doesn’t Mr. Calame publish his 35 questions so the rest of us can see what his bosses refuse to answer?

Contact Calame:

• E-mail: public@nytimes.com
• Phone: (212) 556-7652
• Address: Public Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036-3959

Flap will be awaiting the answers………

Previous:

NSA Leak Case Watch: Justice Deptartment Probing Domestic Spying Leak

NSA Surveillance Watch: President Had Legal Authority to OK Taps

NSA Surveillance Watch: Carter and Clinton Executive Orders Authorizing Secret Searches Without a Warrant


NSA Surveillance Watch: Calls for Congressional Hearings

NSA Surveillance Watch: President Bush defends Spying as “A Necessary Part of My Job to Protect” Americans from Attack

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