Patterico's Pontifications


Today’s Silly New York Times Editorial

Filed under: Media Bias,Morons,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:24 pm

This morning’s New York Times editorial on the Swift program displays the same reasoning and persuasive powers we have come to expect from this venerable institution.

And I mean that most sincerely.

The misleading claptrap begins in the very first paragraph:

There have been a handful of times in American history when the government has indeed tried to prosecute journalists for publishing things it preferred to keep quiet. None of them turned out well — from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the time when the government tried to enjoin The Times and The Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers.

Note to Times editors: the Pentagon Papers case did not involve a prosecution of the newspapers involved, despite your implication to the contrary. It involved the government’s effort to get a court order to prevent publication of the articles in question. Obtaining such an order is much more difficult than prosecuting newspaper staffers after the fact.

If the issue had been the viability of a criminal prosecution, rather than that of a pre-publication injunction, the result might have been quite different. As Harvey Silverglate persuasively argues:

So let’s not kid ourselves: five of the nine justices would have approved of criminal prosecution of the newspapers in the Pentagon Papers case, even though a majority would not authorize a pre-publication injunction.

The editorial also stumbles with this now-familiar argument:

Terrorist groups would have had to be fairly credulous not to suspect that they would be subject to scrutiny if they moved money around through international wire transfers. In fact, a United Nations group set up to monitor Al Qaeda and the Taliban after Sept. 11 recommended in 2002 that other countries should follow the United States’ lead in monitoring suspicious transactions handled by Swift. The report is public and available on the United Nations Web site.

I am getting tired of refuting this argument again and again, so I’ll simply refer you to this post of mine with links and arguments that fully debunk it. The postcard version: Drug dealers know they are sometimes monitored by officers, but somehow I think the cops would still be upset if I showed the dope dealers where the cops are stationed with their binoculars. And if a single bureaucratically worded sentence in an obscure U.N. report was enough to tip off the terrorists, then how have we caught so many of them using this program, in the many years since that little-known report was published?

Finally, the fun part of the editorial, in which the editors write something so patently laughable that you can appreciate it even without my bitter mocking:

It is certainly unlikely that anyone who wanted to hurt the Bush administration politically would try to do so by writing about the government’s extensive efforts to make it difficult for terrorists to wire large sums of money.

From our side of the news-opinion wall, the Swift story looks like part of an alarming pattern. Ever since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has taken the necessity of heightened vigilance against terrorism and turned it into a rationale for an extraordinarily powerful executive branch, exempt from the normal checks and balances of our system of government. It has created powerful new tools of surveillance and refused, almost as a matter of principle, to use normal procedures that would acknowledge that either Congress or the courts have an oversight role.

Let me translate the bolded sentences for you:

Nobody could possibly think we’re trying to get the Bush Administration by revealing the Swift program. After all, the Swift program shows Bush is fighting terrorists, so it’s not as though the Swift program reflects badly on the Bush Administration.

But Good Lord, the Swift program sure does reflect badly on the Bush Administration!

This is the funniest thing I have read in the New York Times in, like, ever. You guys crack me up!

The funniest part is that you’re really trying to be serious.

UPDATE: Thanks very much to Power Line for the link, and for the continuing exposure of the “Blog of the Week” spot. If you’re unfamiliar with my blog, you can read more about it here. Bookmark the main page at this link.

Debunking the Lefties’ Arguments About the Swift Program — in One Convenient Post

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Media Bias,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:33 pm

Those desperate to minimize the significance of the exposure of the Swift program have repeatedly advanced three spurious arguments. I have already addressed these arguments, and would like to collect the links in one convenient post.

1. The minimizers insist that the articles didn’t really tell the terrorists anything they didn’t already know; therefore it cannot have harmed our counterterror effort. Andrew Sullivan speaks for many misguided lefties when he says:

I can’t believe that key terrorists were unaware their finances might be watched and frozen until the NYT and WSJ told them . . .

This is not the point, as I explained here. The issue is not that the stories told the terrorists we were watching financial transactions, but that the stories told them how.

Drug dealers know that police watch their transactions and sometimes send in undercover cops to buy from them. But I think the cops might still object, and the dealers might be very pleased indeed, if we pointed out the secret locations from which the cops conduct their surveillance, or if we gave them the names and full physical descriptions of all undercover officers working in their area.

Additionally, if the terrorists already knew all this, how did we catch so many of them with the program?

Terrorists are not supermen. They don’t know everything, and many of them clearly did not know about Swift. Now they do.

2. The minimizers squeal that the program is symptomatic of an Administration that is out of control, determined to invade our privacy with absolutely no oversight.

I debunk that claim here. The program was legal. Members of key Congressional committees were kept apprised. And the program had an astonishing number of safeguards, which appear to have been very effective.

3. Finally, the minimizers insist that this is all a cover for an attack on the liberal press. Why no anger against the Wall Street Journal?! they demand to know.

I address that claim here. It is not at all clear that the Journal was investigating the story for weeks, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it was. Nevertheless, the government did not ask the Wall Street Journal not to publish. It did make that impassioned request of the New York Times and L.A. Times.

Further, editors of the West Coast Timeses have issued numerous public statements making it very clear that they had done an independent balancing of what they perceived as the competing interests — and the balance, in their (flawed and necessarily uninformed) judgment, weighed in favor of publication. The editors of the Wall Street Journal have issued no such statement.

For these reasons, the Wall Street Journal stands in a very different position — not because of the makeup of its editorial board, but because of its behavior, which was not provably irresponsible, as was that of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

In the future, when the unhinged left makes any of the three above arguments, I will simply refer them to this post. Feel free to do the same.

(See-Dubya) Berkeley is Right to Impeach George Bush

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 5:11 pm

(A guest post by See-Dubya)

One day the Missus and I drove through the lovely seaside town of Santa Cruz, California.  I think we stopped at a winery on the way in, then went to the boardwalk and shopped around downtown.  (I could swear that boardwalk is where they shot the Dirty Harry movie “Sudden Impact”, but I may be mistaken.)  Pretty  town, absolutely full of filthy, sullen, deranged neo-hippies stumbling around in a half-baked haze of hash and radical politcs.  

I was relieved to learn–as I recall, from a sign posted at the city limits–that the city of Santa Cruz is a “nuclear free zone“.  No way I want nuclear weapons falling into the hands of these clowns.    Sure, I had to leave my personal light-water reactor at home, but it was worth it to know that MoonStar and Peace wouldn’t accidentally trigger Chernobyl as they smoked up in their atomic Microbus.  I wondered whether the city had unhooked from the regional power grid, which is supported in too small a part by nuclear power, and generated its own electricity through clean-burning natural love-power and incense-driven turbines. 

I just hope the Commies were willing to observe that sign as well, and not let their ICBMs traverse Santa Cruz’s airspace.  Anyway…

Why they thought they could  beat the Supremacy Clause and prevent the Federal Government from, say, transporting a nuclear-capable cruise missile warhead through town was unclear.  They couldn’t possibly be so dumb as to overlook this fact, especially with all that “expansion” of their minds, and certainly they don’t look like Federalists or States-Rights types who usually wear blue blazers and red ties, or sometimes polo shirts.  After all, a municipal regulation doesn’t usually control over Federal law. 

Nor do church regulations.  As I googled to see if I remembered that correctly about Santa Cruz, I ran across a resolution passed by the Unitarian Universalist Church.  Apparently, they actually do believe something.  Let’s just say if you’re looking for America’s weapons of mass destruction, there’s no need to look inside a Unitarian church.  Anymore. I understand that the Air Force was appalled and had to move several Minuteman silos from their super-secret locations underneath Unitarian pulpits.  In fact, I  think the New York Times broke that story and published a map to all the American missile silos.  Anyway…

We were talking about futile gestures in California.  After a spate of Patriot-act-denouncing by municipalities, we now see Berkeley considering a motion to impeach George Bush, who is presumably the Acting Mayor of Berkeley, and that’s why they think they have the jurisdiction to impeach him.  They probably should.  Berkeley is a wacko town, crime-ridden and full of rude people who like to take grocery baskets away from the homeless and deep-freeze them.  The baskets, not the homeless.  They have a college in Berkeley and when I went there one time, I found masses of brightly colored paper flyers thrown down all over the place.  They were from an environmental rally earlier that day.  Anyway…

Yeah, Berkeley’s a hole and its Acting Mayor George Bush ought to be impeached for letting it get so out of hand.

–by See-Dubya, cross-posted at Junkyard Blog.

L.A. Times Persistently Fails to Report the Specific Successes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:06 am

Regular readers know that I am utterly outraged by the recent publication by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times of classified details of a successful anti-terror operation.

One of the main reasons that I am so angry at the evisceration of this program is because there is abundant evidence that the program has been quite effective. Unlike the NSA program, the government has pointed to several specific successes of the program. It has helped capture major terrorists and terror facilitators.

Yet if you get your news exclusively from the L.A. Times, you wouldn’t know this. In fact, you’d think the opposite.


(See-Dubya) Bill Keller: Doofus.

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 2:32 am

(A short guest-post by See-dubya, cross-posted at Junkyard Blog)

From Howard Kurtz’s column on how we partisan meanies are vilifying the poor New York Times for doing their job comes this gem from NYT editor Bill Keller:

“I always start with the premise that the question is, why should we not publish? Publishing information is our job. What you really need is a reason to withhold information.”

Hmmm…how about, oh, because it’s against the f—ing law, jackwipe.

Does he not understand that it is illegal to disseminate classified information? Does that word mean something different in New York?

UPDATE: I always start with the premise, why should I not urinate on something? Urinating on things is something I do. What I really need is a reason not to urinate all over Bill Keller’s tassel loafers.

Sorry, that’s much cruder than I usually write, but Keller’s lame defense deserves much, much worse.

— See Dubya

UPDATE FROM PATTERICO: I have comments on today’s silly New York Times editorial, which I will flesh out this evening.

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