Patterico's Pontifications

6/30/2006

Why Bill Keller Thought the Terrorists Weren’t Tipped Off

Filed under: Humor,Morons,Terrorism — Patterico @ 8:33 pm

Recall Bill Keller’s odd condemnation of right-wing blogs for spreading the story about the disclosure of the classified, legal, and effective Swift program:

I don’t always have time to answer my mail as fully as etiquette demands, but our story about the government’s surveillance of international banking records has generated some questions and concerns that I take very seriously. As the editor responsible for the difficult decision to publish that story, I’d like to offer a personal response.

Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government’s anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that’s the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)

At first, I didn’t understand Keller’s insinuation that people were reading the story on the right-wing blogs, but not in his paper. Why did he think that nobody had read it in the New York Times?

Then it hit me: Keller must have thought the article was available only through TimesSelect!

UPDATE: Thanks to Power Line, Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, and Mickey Kaus for the links to this snarky little post.

56 Responses to “Why Bill Keller Thought the Terrorists Weren’t Tipped Off”

  1. (I could ask, if that’s the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)

    Speaking of hypocrisy.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  2. “I could ask, if that’s the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.” – Bill Keller

    The same point ex-Bush counter-intelligence officials made in an NYT op-ed today:

    “In the end, all the administration denunciations do is give the press accounts an even higher profile. If administration officials were truly concerned that terrorists might learn something from these reports, they would be wise not to give them further attention by repeatedly fulminating about them.” – RICHARD A. CLARKE and ROGER W. CRESSEY

    steve (7aa64f)

  3. Yeah, I read that too. Either you think you’re writing for one of the highest-profile newspapers in the world–which thought gives you the gall to do this kind of thing–or you don’t. If they didn’t, they might have a point. Since they do, they don’t.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  4. Also known as “shutting the barn door after the horses have escaped.”

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  5. But Keller thought it was a TimesSelect story! That’s not a barn door thrown wide open. It’s a barn door with a little crack at the verrrrry bottom that nobody can fit through.

    But we do appreciate the lectures from Dick Clarke!

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  6. Along the same lines, I guess you saw Day by Day today.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  7. But Keller thought it was a TimesSelect story! That’s not a barn door thrown wide open.

    Don’t worry, I got the joke. This time.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  8. Say hey, don’t you think that Osama is a subscriber to Times Select?

    Mike Myers (290636)

  9. Hitler must have read Time. They predicted D-Day’s launch “the first week in June.”

    steve (7aa64f)

  10. steve said, “Hitler must have read Time. They predicted D-Day’s launch “the first week in June.”

    Yeah, but Hitler saw it as an obvious deception, otherwise, he reasoned, the editors at Time would have been shot.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  11. It's for the public good, redux…

    There's no doubt that the editors of the Times Travel section agonized over this -- trust me, their souls are aching , particularly around the groin area, from the epic battles fought with their consciences -- but in the end, the p…

    protein wisdom (c0db44)

  12. The Real First Draft of the Keller / Bacquet NY Times Editorial on Why they Leaked Classified Information…

    The Real First Draft of the Keller / Bacquet NY Times Editorial on Why they Leaked Classified Information

    Must read. Seriously. Read this now. Very truthy….

    The Jawa Report (ebe5d4)

  13. RICHARD A. CLARKE and ROGER W. CRESSEY – win the day’s award for incompetence. How can grown,educated men be such imbeciles?

    How much drugs did these guys use when young is the appropriate question to ask.

    S Silverstein (a83771)

  14. Bill Keller is as incompetent as the day is long. He thinks that the material is available only on Times Select and thus, it stays there, safe in the hands of its subscribers? Information wants to be free, of course, and it finds a way to get out. Or doesn’t he know anything about the Internet age, yet? Or is he so blindingly ignorant of his own paper and where things get published?

    I find it difficult to believe that the man is that ignorant. This story can be only one thing — a call for assassination. Now I’m not arguing for vigilantism, but I am willing to bet that Bill Keller’s voicemail is filling up with some pretty nasty threat right about now.

    InRussetShadows (04a518)

  15. (I could ask, if that’s the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)

    Or he could say, if that’s the case, I know you are, but what am I?

    Xrlq (5938d1)

  16. Bill Keller is as incompetent as the day is long. He thinks that the material is available only on Times Select and thus, it stays there, safe in the hands of its subscribers? Information wants to be free, of course, and it finds a way to get out. Or doesn’t he know anything about the Internet age, yet? Or is he so blindingly ignorant of his own paper and where things get published?

    It was a joke.

    Patterico (2586cd)

  17. I wouldn’t call for Keller’s, Pinch’s, or the authors’ assassination. Put against a wall for a public execution by firing squad – yes, but I draw the line at assassination.

    cranky (90fb65)

  18. So tell me again how the “public’s right to know” means you can print detailed instructions on how to find Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s family residences, what streets they drive on to get there, what stores their families patronize, where their security cameras are hidden…

    This is scary. The Time editors and publisher are out of control, and feel they can get away with anything. They must be slapped down soon, or they will push it even further. I think it’s time to arrest these traitors.

    Korla Pundit (55d7ef)

  19. So tell me again how the publics right to know means you can print detailed instructions on how to find Cheneys and Rumsfelds family residences,

    What are the detailed instructions they printted?

    [If you’re too lazy to click on the links, actus, then don’t comment. — P]

    actus (6234ee)

  20. “I wouldn’t call for Keller’s, Pinch’s, or the authors’ assassination. Put against a wall for a public execution by firing squad – yes, but I draw the line at assassination. ”

    I’ll second that!

    Sharpshooter (e882db)

  21. But…but…but…the left is reality based, logical, and soooo intelligent!!

    Sharpshooter (e882db)

  22. Anyone got an address and pictures of Kellers home and family?

    I think there are alot of folks with family serving in the military who would like to execise their right to free speech and to protest.

    It sure would suck if the NY and LA Times started finding dog crap in their paper’s vending machines or maybe the coin slots gummed up with super glue and washers…of course I would never advocate detroying another persons property.

    [I don’t like this comment at all. It’s illegal activity you’re talking about, first and foremost. Plus, those machines belong to entrepreneurs, not the paper. — P]

    NebraskaMilitia (e94631)

  23. I do not understand the Left continuing to throw Richard Clarke out as an expert. Why would anyone follow or listen to the advice about the WoT from someone who had the specific job of fighting it for 8 years and accomplished nothing?

    I suppose he could be held up as an example of how NOT to fight a War on Terror….but positioning the idiot that couldn’t put 2 and 2 together over his tenure as an anti-terrorist expert as some sort of knowledgable person is just stupid.

    Faith+1 (37ba5a)

  24. What “detailed instructions” to the Maryland locations did the NYT publish — as detailed as the WaPo’s last year?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/04/AR2005090401391.html

    Or perhaps a cursory Google search for overhead angles?

    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&c2coff=1&q=rumsfeld+%22st+michaels%22+maryland++address&meta=

    The NYT also revealed the mailbox, street address and close-up and wide elevation angles of the Clinton’s Westchester home. Including security.

    “Some of his favorite places to eat include Crabtree Kittle House, below left, and Lange’s Deli, below right, both in Chappaqua. Mr. Clinton says he likes to run in Rockefeller State Park Preserve.” – New York Times, June 8 2003.

    The shining paranoiacs of the conservative blogosphere now post the home addresses of Times’ photographers, writers and managers — urging all patriots to “Go hunt them down and do America a favor. Get their photo, street address, where their kids go to school, anything you can dig up, and send it to the link above. This is your chance to be famous – grab for the golden ring.”

    http://thepoliticalinsight.blogspot.com/

    steve (7aa64f)

  25. Why should they be any different from the people they slime, er, cover?

    sharon (fecb65)

  26. So if harm should come to those who photograph Rummy’s house from a public street are the perps terrorists or patriots?

    Clinton’s house?

    steve (7aa64f)

  27. If criminal harm comes to them, the perps are criminals. That’s simple.

    Patterico (2586cd)

  28. Wow

    You really don’t get it do you? The times article printed nothing new. The banking transaction surveilance program was already known. Even the Bush administration talked about it in press conferences through Paul Oneil years ago. The Times just brought attention to information already available elsewhere, just as the info on Cheney and Rumy’s homes was available previously elsewhere, just as the wingnuts are bringing massive attention to information now available in the Times. Get it? The barn door has been open for years, to extend the quippy metaphor. Keller’s comment was not about exposing the program but about “drawing attention to it”. You’ve taken it completely out of context and completely misrepresented the statement. It just makes you look all the more foolish. The problem with hypocrisy is that hypocrites are blind to their own self contradictions.

    fisheye (9efbbc)

  29. Wow yourself.

    If it’s “nothing new,” then why did the Times consider it “news”?

    That’s a crock of a lame-o excuse.

    Korla Pundit (55d7ef)

  30. “If it’s “nothing new,” then why did the Times consider it “news”?” – Korla Pundit

    They were smarting from retro-Judy Miller shame and wanted a big, fat NSA folo to rennovate their cred. The SWIFT exposé was more cotton candy than criminal act.

    Bill Keller was pro-Iraq invasion. He wrote a famous – and famously ridiculed – defense of Bush and neo-con hawks in a Sunday Times Magazine feature that ran maybe 15-hundred words.

    When Howell Raines lost his footing after the Blair fiasco, Keller’s elevation was controversial. NSA & Swift are, in part, Keller’s come-to-Jesus authenticator.

    steve (7aa64f)

  31. Actually, the whole problem with the story is the readers’ fault. If nobody had read it, there wouldn’t be a problem.

    That’s Keller’s next explanation.

    HSD (7059f3)

  32. “The banking transaction surveilance program was already known.”

    It wasn’t known by the EU, which is now up in arms that there was a program that actually caught terrorists instead of talking about terrorists. And, one can assume, the terrorists who WERE caught didn’t know about it or else they would have avoided it, wouldn’t you think?

    Thank God you aren’t making that idiotic right-to-privacy in financial transactions argument.

    sharon (fecb65)

  33. Thank God you aren’t making that idiotic right-to-privacy in financial transactions argument.

    In europe, where this is taking place, there are statutory rights to privacy. Here there are some too — like in your video rental records (thank you, Bork). But the banking ones dont’ quite reach this, I don’t think.

    actus (6234ee)

  34. The banking transaction surveilance program was already known.

    Not to Hambali.

    dorkafork (801cd7)

  35. “In europe, where this is taking place, there are statutory rights to privacy.”

    We’re not in europe (sic), Actus.

    “Here there are some too — like in your video rental records (thank you, Bork). But the banking ones dont’ quite reach this, I don’t think.”

    Banking transactions such as those subject to this program are not covered by a right to privacy. Don’t you read these threads or are you too busy formulating a new insipid comment?

    sharon (fecb65)

  36. The smug club published a pic of Rumsfield’s house. I’d like to see a pic and the address of Baquet/Keller houses. Please!

    Dave (be9633)

  37. We’re not in europe (sic), Actus.

    No. We’re not. But SWIFT is.

    Banking transactions such as those subject to this program are not covered by a right to privacy

    Careful. I think “right to privacy,” implies something constitutional. Clearly that doesn’t apply to your bank records. There are also statutory privacy protections. But what I wrote is that I dont think they reach this bank data. At least not US laws. The Euros have more statutory privacy protections though, and this was happening under the jurisdiction of those laws.

    actus (6234ee)

  38. I knew there was a good joke in there somewhere. You nailed it. Nice work.

    TallDave (e15e0b)

  39. “No. We’re not. But SWIFT is.”

    That doesn’t matter, Actus. The program was legal.

    “Careful. I think “right to privacy,” implies something constitutional.”

    You think?

    “Clearly that doesn’t apply to your bank records.”

    Then why did you decide to comment when I said someone wasn’t still making the idiotic “right to privacy” argument? Or are you up to 1st Amendment law in school & trying to prove something?

    “There are also statutory privacy protections.”

    Yes, I know. Does that have any relevance to this thread?

    “But what I wrote is that I dont think they reach this bank data. At least not US laws.”

    It’s already been established (about 400 posts ago) that privacy laws do not cover banking transactions of this nature. Why are you still discussing it?

    “The Euros have more statutory privacy protections though, and this was happening under the jurisdiction of those laws.”

    It is irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion whether the “Euros” have diff laws on this or not. Next.

    sharon (fecb65)

  40. The banking transaction surveilance program was already known.

    Not to Hambali.

    I’ll bet he knows about it now, though.

    Xrlq (5938d1)

  41. Then why did you decide to comment when I said someone wasn’t still making the idiotic “right to privacy” argument?

    I addressed the argument. I said it probably doesn’t apply. And I clarified between constitutional and statutory protections, because you were using ambiguous language. Thats it. Why is there a sinister motive to everything it do?

    It is irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion whether the “Euros” have diff laws on this or not. Next.

    Why do you say its irrelevant? Don’t you think its important to know whether the law of the locality where this investigation is taking place is being followed? If the law there prohibits this program, then that can have an impact on the program. Don’t you think thats important? or at least, relevant? You don’t think its relevant that this program might stop because it might violate the rules of the jurisdiction in which its taking place?

    thats odd.

    actus (6234ee)

  42. “If the law there prohibits this program, then that can have an impact on the program.”

    Yes. The operative word there is “if.” However, we DO know that splashing a story about the program of the most read newspaper in the U.S. WILL have an impact. And it has.

    sharon (fecb65)

  43. Yes

    See. relevancy is a very low standard.

    actus (6234ee)

  44. However, we DO know that splashing a story about the program of the most read newspaper in the U.S. WILL have an impact. And it has. – Sharon

    WE do? The same way YOU know “CNN released the names of undercover operatives in South America, then acted astonished that many were killed.”

    There could be a deterrent effect in this becoming public, in that the terrorists know that you’re looking at this and they’re going to have to find another less effective, perhaps less successful and a more easily discoverable way.

    steve (db6ba8)

  45. Because there aren’t any banks in the world outside of the SWIFT group that will handle their money and keep it quiet?

    Puhleaze. That’s weak.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  46. Because there arent any banks in the world outside of the SWIFT group that will handle their money and keep it quiet?” – Anwyn

    We have the much-ballyhooed Foreign Terrorist Assist Tracking Center to – in the President’s own words – “investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks.”

    You can’t argue publicity cripples one program and enhances another. And you certainly can’t yell “shut the hell up” to the NYT and then stage an extended rant on every cable program, blog and radio call-in show, foreclosing any chance the bad guys thought, “big whoop.”

    [I.e. terrorists might ignore the front page of the NYT — but when it’s publicized on blogs like Patterico, why, who can ignore it? got pathetic desperation? — P]

    steve (db6ba8)

  47. See also cow, escaped, barn door, shutting of.

    You apparently keep missing the idea that the president standing up and saying “We’re tracking the terrorists’ finances!” is a damn sight different from the NYT saying “We’re using this consortium, with their cooperation, with these controls, and you have to give us a sniff that you’re a bad guy before we can use your info” etc. etc. It’s not publicity. It’s disclosure. And the subject was not publicity; it was whether or not there are other banks the terrorists can use now that the SWIFT group is down the hatch. I got a nonprivate bank transaction of an undisclosed amount of money says there are.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  48. And the subject was not publicity; it was whether or not there are other banks the terrorists can use now that the SWIFT group is down the hatch. – Anwyn

    Don’t supply names. Can’t tell who is online.

    Alternatives dried up long ago:

    “Money transfer agencies like Western Union have delayed or blocked thousands of cash deliveries on suspicion of terrorist connections simply because senders or recipients have names like Mohammed or Ahmed, company officials said.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,201850,00.html

    Should we berate FoxNews or AP for alerting al Qaeda to this?

    steve (db6ba8)

  49. Are Western Union’s operational directives classified? No? There you go.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  50. And from the sound of it, anybody in al Qaeda named “Mohammed” or “Ahmed” apparently already knew.

    Seriously, steve, what do you think Mr. Bali Bomber’s buddies thought when he was apprehended? Think they went, “Oh, Bali, he was just dumb. We won’t get caught.” Or, “Oh, Bali, he must’ve told some infidel whore he slept with. We won’t get caught.” Or maybe it was, “Oh, Bali, well, we better check out all his operations, all his finances, all his intel to see where he might have been turned.” If it was the latter, do you think they found out where authorities got on his trail? And if not … they know now.

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  51. Are Western Union’s operational directives classified? No? There you go. – Anwyn

    The reference was to “money transfer agencies LIKE Western Union.” Transfers between customers whose names even partially match names on the Treasury list are “routinely blocked.” The Treasury guidelines on such transfers were *not* as widely known, one imagines, prior to this article.

    steve (db6ba8)

  52. GASP! You guys are aiding the terrorists by having this discussion. TREASONISTS!

    George W. Bush already told of the operation just after 911.

    You guys are fools to not realize this is just more theatrics. Go buy some duct tape, boys and girls.

    blubonnet (86405d)

  53. “The reference was to “money transfer agencies LIKE Western Union.” Transfers between customers whose names even partially match names on the Treasury list are “routinely blocked.” The Treasury guidelines on such transfers were *not* as widely known, one imagines, prior to this article.”

    Neither was it classified.

    “George W. Bush already told of the operation just after 911.”

    Not with the specificity of the NYT, blu.

    Sorry, Steve, can’t find the link for the CNN story. It was in the late 1980s, however, which would explain it not being on the web. I remember it because, at the time, I was a lunatic lefty as well as a journalist and my parents demanded I explain why a news organization would put Americans at risk merely for a “big story.” I didn’t have an explanation for it then and don’t now. Believe it if you want or don’t believe it if you want. It’s irrelevant to me.

    sharon (fecb65)

  54. Key to the Times’ efforts to clean up its image as a bullhorn for announcing secret anti-terror measures is its new insistence that the SWIFT story did not reveal any secrets; never mind the story’s very headline. Yet PostWatch finds numerous references in the article to the program’s “secret” and “classified” nature.

    As usual, the left’s answer to legitimate criticism is simply to deny the truth and hope the MSM has their backs. Here’s another news flash: Them Days Is Over.

    Yr. Fthfl. Svnt. (a06c89)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3083 secs.