Patterico's Pontifications

7/1/2006

What Would You Ask Dean Baquet?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Terrorism — Patterico @ 12:35 am



I have been thinking about drafting up a list of questions for Dean Baquet, editor of the Los Angeles Times, regarding his decision to publish the details of the Swift anti-terror program. I thought I might put together a list of questions in an open-source fashion. I’ll throw out a few questions I’d like to see answered, and you leave me a comment with suggestions for other questions.

I’m not saying he’s going to sit for an interview with me. But he should, don’t you think?

In no particular order, here are a few questions I’d like him to answer:

  • Are you proud that you published the story?
  • What good do you think it will do to have published the story?
  • Make me the best legal argument you can that this program was illegal. Be specific.
  • If the L.A. Times had been the only paper pursuing the story, would you have published it?
  • What is your standard for deciding whether to publish classified information? Many have read your defense of publication as asserting that any disclosure is fair game, as long as it won’t lead immediately and directly to someone’s death, and it’s of interest to the public. Is this your standard? Because most classified information on anti-terror programs falls into this category. Does this mean you’ll be doing it again?
  • Are you at all worried that people might die as a result of this program’s disclosure?
  • Is it possible that this program’s disclosure might help terrorists avoid being captured by our government?
  • Is it possible that this program’s disclosure will cause our European allies and/or Swift to cease cooperating with us?
  • How long was your paper working on this story?
  • How many people did you talk to about the program?
  • Was the person you first heard from someone who worked inside the government?
  • Did the people you talked to make political contributions to either party? Are they activists on behalf of either party? Did you investigate the possibility? Did you even ask?
  • Why hasn’t your paper reported about the specific successes of the program, like the capture of Hambali, or of a major Al Qaeda money launderer, or the identification of a major Iraqi terror facilitator, or of suspects in the London terror bombings?
  • Did you know of these successes when you first published?
  • If you didn’t, doesn’t that mean you lacked sufficient knowledge to weigh the possible impact of disclosure?
  • Why didn’t you go to Washington to discuss with government officials whether this story should be published?
  • To your knowledge, was the Administration “half-hearted” in its lobbying efforts to get your paper to kill the story? Or did they vigorously oppose publication?
  • Let’s say someone in the government comes to me, a lone blogger, with classified information. Can I publish it, as a legal matter? an ethical matter? a moral matter? Or can such decisions be made only by newspapers?
  • What if I openly sympathize with Al Qaeda on my blog? Same questions.
  • Do you think that institutions whose decisions affect the public should have the light of public disclosure shined on their inner workings?
  • Do you feel that institutions with great power should have to account for their decisions that affect the public, and face questions by the public?
  • Do you think that seeking out and interviewing anonymous sources within such institutions is appropriate?
  • Do you believe that the L.A. Times is an institution with great power, whose decisions affect the public?
  • Do you feel that officials at the L.A. Times should have to account for their decisions that affect the public, and face questions by the public?
  • How many interviews have you done about the disclosure of the Swift program?
  • Do you think that seeking out and interviewing anonymous sources within the L.A. Times is appropriate?
  • Jill Stewart once sought out and interviewed an anonymous source at the L.A. Times who stated that the paper’s previous editor had acted inappropriately regarding the paper’s handling of the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Gropegate” story. What did you think of Jill’s story?
  • There was once a blog run out of the offices of the L.A. Times by an anonymous person claiming to be a staffer. The blog is no longer around, and is rumored to have been shut down by management. How do you feel about that?
  • How many subscribers have you lost over this?
  • How many people have written you to express their disgust with the paper’s decision?

I’m just getting warmed up. But I welcome suggestions.

43 Responses to “What Would You Ask Dean Baquet?”

  1. “If you had been running the Chicago Tribune in 1942, would you have considered running a story about the unshielded nuclear reactor Fermi was running in downtown Chicago?”

    “If you had been running the Guardian in 1940, would you have considered breaking the news that Churchill knew about the Coventry bombing ahead of time, and why he decided to let it happen?”

    “If you had been running the Times in 1942, and found out that the US had broken the Japanese codes before Pearl Harbor, would you have launched an investigation into whether Rooseveldt had let it happen?”

    “If you had been running the Times in 1994 and found out that Presidnet Clinton was building up forces to attack North Korea, would you have published?”

    If you answered “No” to any of these, could you differentiate these from your recent decision?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  2. What investigations, if any, has your paper initiated concerning what type of message is being taught and promoted in local mosques?
    What original investigations, if any, has your paper done with regards to secret programs promoting terroism or terrorist training in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria? Have you revealed any secret Al Qaeda programs that target the west or Americans in your paper?

    btorrez (bbda7f)

  3. Do you believe we are at war?
    Do you think that the goals of this war as stated by the Bush Administration are legitimate?
    Is there any written record of your support or nonsupport of the war in the last four years?
    Who did you vote for in the last presidential election?
    What is your party registration?

    btorrez (bbda7f)

  4. What Would You Ask Dean Baquet?
    Cigarette?
    Blindfold?

    guinsPen (a7bd9c)

  5. Have you ever withheld a story because of the damage running that story could have done to national security?

    If you haven’t yet done so, why shouldn’t the public conclude that you consider national security concerns to be secondary to the public’s so-called ‘right to know’?

    Have you pre-written your responses defending your action to the families, friends and neighbors of those who will be killed by terrorists who, because of your story, escape detection?

    If not, don’t you think you ought to get started?

    steve sturm (d3e296)

  6. This is a little off subject, but it is my theory that a significant percentage of the population (about 1/3) does not think we are at war and also believes that any action the Bush administration takes with regards to the middle east is illegitimate. The views of this cohort are represented by the LAT, NYT, and significant portions of the state department, CIA, etc. As we get closer to the 2008 presidential election, look for more damaging stories to appear as this group tries to undermine the war and get their person in the White House and end the war.

    btorrez (bbda7f)

  7. Do you consider yourself an American? Communist? Socialist? Human?

    Erin Bizon (ce6f06)

  8. Were you pleased that Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens told C-Span’s Brian Lamb (June 30, 2006 “Washington Journal”) that the WSJ is “no more to blame than the Los Angeles Times” as the two papers published what Treasury offered?

    “…in September 2003 the same Secretary Snow invited a group of reporters from our papers, The Wall Street Journal and others to travel with him and his aides on a military aircraft for a six-day tour to show off the department’s efforts to track terrorist financing. The secretary’s team discussed many sensitive details of their monitoring efforts, hoping they would appear in print and demonstrate the administration’s relentlessness against the terrorist threat.” – Dean Baquet & Bill Keller

    http://www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002765275

    steve (7aa64f)

  9. Mr. Baquet,

    Since America, American interests, and Americans have been under escalating attack by Islamic terrorists for more than three decades, I think it is reasonable to suggest that we are at war. Our Islamic enemies have already shown that they have little or no interest in sparing innocent lives, and they have expressed a desire to use weapons of mass destruction against this country. Such an attack would almost certainly require the international movement serious financial resources of the type that the Swift program was intended to detect.

    So, when a nuke or a dirty bomb goes off in Chicago, or Anthrax is released in Los Angeles, or Sarin in New York, and hindsight suggests that the Swift program could have prevented those deaths, how to you plan to live with yourself, you F**king prick?

    C. S. P. Schofield (c1cf21)

  10. If the “public’s right to know” is so paramount, why won’t you disclose the identity of the government agents who leaked this information?

    Sean P (e2ccbf)

  11. Did you consult your lawyers for advice on whether publishing the story was criminal? If so, what did they say? Will you claim the advice was privileged? Why would you claim privilege if they told you everything was legal? Do you understand that you can waive privilege and release the advice and authorize your lawyers to go public? Will you do that?

    Did you conduct a formal cost benefit analysis of the effects of publishing the story? Was it in writing? Who conducted the analysis and where is it? Did you analyze the costs and benefits to the LA Times or to the USA?

    Would you do it again?

    Will you personally receive a bonus for this?

    BlacquesJacquesShellacques (83acf5)

  12. Had the LA Times been around in 1789, would you have leaked “who said what” at the Constitutional Convention?

    Do you realize doing so would have killed any agreement and so, at best, delayed a constitutional agreement?

    Do you see a problem with that?

    Please define “in the publice interest. Who exactly is “the public” you are referring to?

    Phil Boucher (190f8d)

  13. Do you conclude, Mr. Baquet, that the Wall Street Journal’s argument seems to be that they’d sell America to Osama for a quick buck, so long as no one asked them not to?

    “Treasury officials did not tell our editors they had urged the Times not to publish. What Journal editors did know is that they had senior government officials providing news they didn’t mind seeing in print. If this was a “leak,” it was entirely authorized.” — Wall Street Journal [Editorial]

    steve (7aa64f)

  14. An interesting read at Ann Althouse via JustOneMinute who got it via Instapundit.
    My question:
    If a cable news show would sponsor a one hour special with Mr Keller and Mr Baquet fielding questions from bloggers such as Patterico, Tom Maquire, Hugh Hewitt, Ann Althouse, would you be willing to participate.
    As it is now they are controlling the venue with no open or immediate opportunity to question or confront statements.

    tom scott (e91ab8)

  15. How is your reader served by publishing this story?

    JayCeezy (4375f2)

  16. Mr. Bacquet:

    1) Since this story was apparently printed because of “the public’s right to know,” when was the last time that you, an arrogant MSM elitist, or any of your elitist agenda journalists, lowered yourselves to actually talk to a member of the public?

    Can you give us a hint? If you don’t remember the year, who was President then?

    2) Because you don’t read Patterico, Mr. Bacquet, I’d like to ask you these questions in a more meaningful and direct way, and am willing to visit the left-wing blogs you and your staff peruse to do so. What handle do you post under at Daily Kos? HuffPost? Democratic Underground?

    3) If a WMD attack takes place in Los Angeles, and God forbid one of your loved ones becomes a victim, is it wrong for me to gloat?

    The Hound (a10c55)

  17. Re # 4–

    Sorry, no cigarette — the smoke is harmful to the squad.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  18. You publish intimate details and financial information of the personal lives of prominent people in politics, the arts, entertainment, etc. For example, on the eve of the gubernatorial special election, you reported alleged sexual misconduct by the Republican candidate. Why do you not publish that kind of detail about fellow journalists?

    How much money do you earn? How many times have you been married? Do your children attend or grandchildren attend public schools? If not, why not?

    Stu707 (cc7fa3)

  19. They don’t care, and in today’s Opinion section they basically state, “We did it before, and by God, we’ll so it again!”

    When do we publish a secret?
    By Dean Baquet and Bill Keller

    Sounds liks a fisking is in order — I’m working on it!

    OkieBoy (3de64e)

  20. We can get the privilege to operate a motor vehicle, but not unsafely. We have freedom of speech, but not the right to yell “fire” in a theatre. We have the right to bear arms, but not to commit murder. All rights and privileges, understandably come with limitations and responsibilities. Primarily, when they may put the safety of others at risk.

    Please explain why you felt that publishing this story wouldn’t put American lives at risk? Did you think that Treasury needed you to hold off publication an extra day just so they could recall their SWIFT liaison for consultations.

    MaDR (d28110)

  21. Your partner in publishing information helpful to our enemies has just published the location of weekend retreats of VP Cheney and Sec. Rumsfeld. The article includes a photograph that shows the location of a concealed camera.

    Don’t you think the public has the right to know where the editor and publisher of the NYT and the LAT spend their weekends?

    Stu707 (cc7fa3)

  22. Your fellow newspapermen and magazines have printed numerous stories since 9/11 about the war and about President Bush that were later proven false or grossly exagerrated. Dan Rather and Eason Jordan were fired over such false stories. The previous executive editor of the New York Times resigned after it was revealed that he approved false stories by Jayson Blair. Judith Miller was let go by the Times for her false WMD stories. Newsweek ran a false story about Korans being flushed down the toilet that resulted in people dying in riots overseas. Nobody has yet found any of the “secret prisons” reported with such fanfare by the Washington Post. Senator Pat Roberts, chair of the Intelligence Committee, says that 80% of the story about the NSA telephone suveillance program was wrong.

    My question to you is, why should we believe anything you publish now, unless you reveal your sources? Isn’t is possible your reporters and you are so biased against this Administration that you are vulnerable to being sold false or only semi-true stories?

    PAgal (eb7662)

  23. How long has it been since you recited the Pledge of Allegiance?

    Do you pledge your allegiance to the USA, without reservation?

    Is revealing information helpful to America’s enemies consistent with that pledge?

    Are you adding insult to injury when you aid the enemy, and say you did it in the public’s interest?

    Are you an American, or like Mike Wallace, is being a “reporter” your first loyalty?

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  24. Mr. Baquet–

    Have you ever served in the military, and have you ever been issued a security clearance? Are you familiar with the very strict rules regarding the use and disposal of classified information?

    Do you believe that all American citizens are equal before the law? If you do believe in equality before the law why is it that people like myself (yes I do have a security clearance) and most others who hold security clearances will suffer the consequences if we violate these rules while the misinformed and self-important like yourself, Doyle McManus, Bill Keller, Pinch Sulzberger and Sandy Berger, at least up to this point in time, will not?

    Last but not least, what will you say to the grieving families of American soldiers from Southern California who were killed while acting in the line of duty to protect unpatriotic bigots such as yourself?

    Mescalero (0e4d32)

  25. Mr. Barquet,the President as Commander in Chief, has the right to establish what is an isn’t classified,this right was given to him by the constitution of the United States.Could you please show me the part in the constitution that gives you that right.Who exactly was it that said you through Illegal leaks have the right to put Americans and all the world at risk.Please sir show me,you arragent freedom hating piece of excrament. A poster up the line called it exactly right.Blind fold- wall- lights out.

    jainphx (b63710)

  26. Please ask Mr. Baquet and Mr. Keller to cite two instances when the Clinton Administration asked them to withhold an article in the name of national security, and they refused, since they have such a long history of protecting the peoples’ right to know in the race for the next Pulitzer.

    hstones (088c0f)

  27. I’d ask Baquet the following:
    1) Should the islamafascists win will you choose death, conversion or dhimmitude? Why?
    2) Should the jihadis take US hostages because we weren’t able to stop them after you revealed the SWIFT program, would you be willing to substitute yourself for the innocent? How about your children?
    3) Who are your sources for this revelation. I am part of the public and I have a right to know. I want to know that more than the particulars of the SWIFT program.
    4) What are the checks and balances against abuses by sanctimonious editors engaged in treason? I can only think of cancelling my subscription. Is losing circulation worth it? What percentage of circulation would you give up in advance to publish a secret that helps america, stops terrorists, has no abuses you can think of and that had multinational support. Did you tell your major stockholders this?
    5) Do you own an american flag? How many have you burned?

    NeoCon Don (cfc327)

  28. 1) Since this story was apparently printed because of “the public’s right to know,” when was the last time that you, an arrogant MSM elitist, or any of your elitist agenda journalists, lowered yourselves to actually talk to a member of the public?

    Don’t they get letters to the editor? Who are those from?

    And isn’t everyone a member of the public, including their friends and family?

    actus (6234ee)

  29. Don’t they get letters to the editor? Who are those from?

    Spoken like someone who thinks like a newspaper editor. I make the pronouncements, you write me a letter I ignore, and I call that a conversation.

    Patterico (2586cd)

  30. I make the pronouncements, you write me a letter I ignore, and I call that a conversation.

    I certainly wouldn’t call it conversation. But they do get letters.

    actus (6234ee)

  31. I’m not sure Acthole will get your subtle point. Maybe you should demonstrate it by routinely ignoring everything he posts, but reminding him two or three times a year that this blog is a “conversation.”

    Xrlq (5938d1)

  32. Crap, comments 31 and 32 crossed in the mail. Make that “obviously, Acthole doesn’t get your subtle point.”

    Xrlq (5938d1)

  33. NYT and LAT ask: When Do We Publish a Secret?…

    In a rare joint move, the editors of the LAT and NYT (Dean Baquet and Bill Keller, respectively) have an editorial posted in today’s New York Times (and I’m sure it’s in the LA Times as well) which tries to answer the question: &#8220…

    Sister Toldjah (1466f5)

  34. Re- #4 & #17

    No blindfold, it could be considered torture.

    “Nobody I know voted for LAT & NYT as final abiters on what counts as proper security measures.”

    roy in nipomo (d577e1)

  35. “Don’t they get letters to the editor? Who are those from?”

    Letters to the editor aren’t read by the EDITOR. They are read and sifted (for various purposes) by a low-paid schmuck who hopes that someday he can ignore readers, too.

    “And isn’t everyone a member of the public, including their friends and family?”

    Could be. But does he TALK to them?

    sharon (fecb65)

  36. Could be. But does he TALK to them?

    Does the guy talk to his friends and family? I don’t know. Ask hte NSA.

    actus (6234ee)

  37. “Does the guy talk to his friends and family? I don’t know. Ask hte NSA.”

    They’d only know if it were an overseas call. Domestically, they might know if he called that particular number, but not the substance of the conversation.

    sharon (fecb65)

  38. They’d only know if it were an overseas call. Domestically, they might know if he called that particular number, but not the substance of the conversation.

    At least, thats all the info that the NYT has deemed to tell us. And we believe that is all there is.

    actus (6234ee)

  39. Before the mood darkened suddenly, the White House was saying nice things about the editors:

    MR. [TONY] SNOW: I think it’s important — the one thing we can say is that Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau and Bill Keller and others had — and other reporters who did this, got extensive knowledge and briefing on this. So they knew it. And that’s why — I mean, it’s interesting because I think there’s a fair amount of balance in the story in that you do have concrete benefits and you do have the kind of abstract harms that were mentioned in there. I think it’s important in a case like this, and obviously, we didn’t want to print it. But we also wanted to make sure that as the reporters went through and as the editors went through it that they were fully informed so that they could make their own judgment, and that is what they did.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/06/20060623-4.html

    What the hell happened to turn this “fair amount of balance” into the crime of the century?

    steve (db6ba8)

  40. “At least, thats all the info that the NYT has deemed to tell us. And we believe that is all there is.”

    Given their recent actions, it’s doubtful they’d hide anything that wouldn’t create more distrust for govt if they knew it.

    sharon (fecb65)

  41. Given their recent actions, it’s doubtful they’d hide anything that wouldn’t create more distrust for govt if they knew it.

    This is an interesting issue right? Because we don’t, by definition, have any examples of them holding back information. So we can’t tell whether they do or not. Would you be happy to know of these cases, if any, in which they do not share info? Or are you happy with your views from ignorance?

    actus (6234ee)

  42. Steve, #40: I am 100% with you. The Administration bent over, grabbed its ankles, offered the condom and the KY Jelly but did not insist on them. Actually I think it went one or two obscene steps further but I do not want to be banned for explicitly saying so. A possible explanation may be that Tony Snow is a former member of the MSM who will be looking for a job in the MSM in about two and a half years?

    nk (47858f)


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