Here’s an accumulation of some analysis and opinion on the latest New York Times reporting scandal.
First, note that the NYT defense for revealing national security secrets depends upon a claim of a “reversal of policy” regarding National Security Agency electronic intercepts.
Reporter James Risen and the NYT were less concerned about this problem in a 1999 article playfully entitled “The Nation: Don’t Read This; If You Do, They May Have to Kill You.” They didn’t see much problem with warrantless searches under President Clinton
Risen’s most recent national security breach is one the NYT held for more than a year. They released it on the day of the Iraqi elections and the day before the Senate took up renewal of the Patriot Act. The essence of the story is that George Bush issued executive orders, requiring renewal every 45 days, that authorized the NSA to intercept some electronic communications terminating in foreign countries involving suspected Al-Quaeda sympathizers.
It is clear that the timing of the NYT reporting had 2 consequences: 1) It served to hystericalize Congressional debate regarding the renewal of the Patriot Act on the very day cloture was up for a vote, and 2) it marginalized a World Historical event – Iraqi voting for a representative government.
Were these consequences intentional? You decide.
The NYT sat on this story for many months. It is clear they had no concern for the potential damage to the United States of such a security breach: they admit the President asked them directly not to publish it. Maybe the explanation is as simple as amoral running-dog-capitalist promotion of the reporter’s forthcoming book.
However you choose to interpret the NYT timing, Harry Reid’s glee in repeating, “we killed the Patriot Act”, proves it to be a boon for the Democrats. However you choose to to interpret the story’s poorly researched content, it has proved to be a rallying point for left-wing spam generators to call for impeachment of the President. Perhaps not co-incidentally Bush’s approval ratings are back up to 50%.
By now, the charge of “illegality” has been debunked for anyone not possessed of Afflicted Democrat Disorder. Senator Carl Levin, for example, asks where in the Constitution would this authority exist? Apparently, Levin is unfamiliar with Article 2, recent case law and the opinions of at least two Democrat Presidents and their Departments of Justice.
The Clinton Justice Department is defending the warrantless searches in the person of John Schmidt (Associate Attorney General of the United States – 1994 to 1997). Both Clinton and Carter authorized warrantless searches via executive order, and we were not at War when they did so.
The courts have upheld Bush’s view of the legal authorizations in the Constitution and in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as John Hinderaker points out at Powerline. A must read.
The Democrats are claiming they objected to the executive order for a long time, but Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) disingenuity is exposed here. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) dodges the question of what he knew and when he knew it: “Were you ever briefed on this?”, here.
Many other links are worthwhile. Since I know not everyone can take the time to track them down, I include some following.
Presidential Wiretapping: Disaggregating the Issues
Unversity of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog
Live and Let Spy
By Ann Coulter
By Charles Krauthammer
Congress Should Give Bush Power To Tap Terrorists
By Mort Kondracke
Please add any links you find important in the comments.