A really (Ca)lame excuse

There has been much buzz about the admission  of New York Times 'public editor' Byron Calame that the paper should not have published information on the SWIFT program that tracked financial transactions of terrorists.

The new information food chain was in display. First off the mark, bloggers like Michelle Malkin, Ed Morrisey, Don Surber, Patterico, and others commented. Noting that Clame's mea culpa was buried in an article with an unrelated (and somewhat trivial) item on the new perfume editor and the role of magazine advertising in supporting the hard news operation as its title, and that all of the reasons he cited were evident at the time of the article's publication, and Calame's initial approval.

Many people also pointed out that Calame's excuse for initially justifying publication was pathetic. Blogger (and newspaper columnist) Don Sureber wrote:

So does Calame blast his editors for exposing a state secret in time of war? No. He wrote: "What kept me from seeing these matters more clearly earlier in what admittedly was a close call? I fear I allowed the vicious criticism of The Times by the Bush administration to trigger my instinctive affinity for the underdog and enduring faith in a free press — two traits that I warned readers about in my first column."

That's right. The New York Times is wrong, so it must be Bush's fault.

Ed Morrisey pointed out  the underlying agenda.

Calame dislikes the administration as much as the rest of the people at the New York Times, and in the guise of detached analysis endorsed the publication of a non—story in his zeal to undermine the White House using any means at their disposal. Everyone else knew that this story had no merit; it took the Times and its public editor four months to figure it out.

Yesterday, talk radio picked up the ball and ran with it. And Fox News, during the 'Grapevine' segment of Brit Hume's show, also noted the reversal.

But today, a fellow newspaper editor, Jules Crittenden, city editor of the Boston Herald, took the story to a new level. Addressing Calame, he wrote,

...you may consider launching a soul—searching campaign at the New York Times. I'd encourage a look at the decision to report on the National Security Agency's warrantless electronic monitoring of emails and phone calls between the United States and suspect individual overseas. The outrage your paper and others stirred up over a program that falls well within the law and harms no law—abiding American citizen, and the notice you served to terrorists and their supporters of its existence, constitute aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war.

But don't stop there. You have been greatly privileged —— beyond your merit —— to hold a lofty and influential position overseeing the morality and ethics of our newsgathering profession.

The American media is morally and ethically adrift, and in need of guidance.You could be the one, based on this revelation, to provide some. Faced with a spreading threat to our fundamental values and freedoms by Islamic fascists, the media in the United States is predominantly of the view, and encourages the belief, that the United States government in its execution of conventional and unconventional war against clearly demonstrated threats poses the greater threat to our way of life.

Many are puzzled by the timing of Calame's admission, coming only two weeks before an election. The simplest and most likely explanation is that he re—thought the matter and came to a different conclusion. Honesty compelled him to write what he did.

Others see a different agenda at work. Tom Riehl, whose work I respect, sees a Hillary plot

As I recently posted, the worst thing in the world for a Hillary Presidential bid in 08 is two years of uber—liberal Democrats running wild through the halls of congress and a mid—term result that strengthens the also uber—Liberal Netroots.

Hillary would welcome near parity in the congress for now. But a majority threatens her ultimate ambition more than Karl Rove. If Dean and the Netroots crash, Hillary, the Democratic Leadership Conference and the Blue Dog Dems are the only ones around to pick up the pieces heading into 2008.

I am afraid I am not convinced by this reasoning. I just do not see Congressional elections being swung by a buried mea culpa in the New York Times about one of its stories.

If there is anything hidden here, I have to wonder if the Times has been notified by the Department of Justice that it is under investigation for possible criminal violations in publishing classified information. Pure uninformed speculation on my part. But the Times is already under court order in a civil suit to release the names of some anonymous sources, and may end up forced to pay millions of dollars to Steven Hatfill if it does not comply. With earnings down (again) can the Times really afford to disobey a court order and face unknown liability? How about a criminal prosecution, say, for espionage?

Having taken the position that the 'outer' of Valeire Plame should be revealed, the Times is now in weak position to resist revealing its sources in the SWIFT program story.

If the possibility of a criminal prosecution looms, perhaps Calame is buying himself some insurance.

Thomas Lifson   10 24 06

There has been much buzz about the admission  of New York Times 'public editor' Byron Calame that the paper should not have published information on the SWIFT program that tracked financial transactions of terrorists.

The new information food chain was in display. First off the mark, bloggers like Michelle Malkin, Ed Morrisey, Don Surber, Patterico, and others commented. Noting that Clame's mea culpa was buried in an article with an unrelated (and somewhat trivial) item on the new perfume editor and the role of magazine advertising in supporting the hard news operation as its title, and that all of the reasons he cited were evident at the time of the article's publication, and Calame's initial approval.

Many people also pointed out that Calame's excuse for initially justifying publication was pathetic. Blogger (and newspaper columnist) Don Sureber wrote:

So does Calame blast his editors for exposing a state secret in time of war? No. He wrote: "What kept me from seeing these matters more clearly earlier in what admittedly was a close call? I fear I allowed the vicious criticism of The Times by the Bush administration to trigger my instinctive affinity for the underdog and enduring faith in a free press — two traits that I warned readers about in my first column."

That's right. The New York Times is wrong, so it must be Bush's fault.

Ed Morrisey pointed out  the underlying agenda.

Calame dislikes the administration as much as the rest of the people at the New York Times, and in the guise of detached analysis endorsed the publication of a non—story in his zeal to undermine the White House using any means at their disposal. Everyone else knew that this story had no merit; it took the Times and its public editor four months to figure it out.

Yesterday, talk radio picked up the ball and ran with it. And Fox News, during the 'Grapevine' segment of Brit Hume's show, also noted the reversal.

But today, a fellow newspaper editor, Jules Crittenden, city editor of the Boston Herald, took the story to a new level. Addressing Calame, he wrote,

...you may consider launching a soul—searching campaign at the New York Times. I'd encourage a look at the decision to report on the National Security Agency's warrantless electronic monitoring of emails and phone calls between the United States and suspect individual overseas. The outrage your paper and others stirred up over a program that falls well within the law and harms no law—abiding American citizen, and the notice you served to terrorists and their supporters of its existence, constitute aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war.

But don't stop there. You have been greatly privileged —— beyond your merit —— to hold a lofty and influential position overseeing the morality and ethics of our newsgathering profession.

The American media is morally and ethically adrift, and in need of guidance.You could be the one, based on this revelation, to provide some. Faced with a spreading threat to our fundamental values and freedoms by Islamic fascists, the media in the United States is predominantly of the view, and encourages the belief, that the United States government in its execution of conventional and unconventional war against clearly demonstrated threats poses the greater threat to our way of life.

Many are puzzled by the timing of Calame's admission, coming only two weeks before an election. The simplest and most likely explanation is that he re—thought the matter and came to a different conclusion. Honesty compelled him to write what he did.

Others see a different agenda at work. Tom Riehl, whose work I respect, sees a Hillary plot

As I recently posted, the worst thing in the world for a Hillary Presidential bid in 08 is two years of uber—liberal Democrats running wild through the halls of congress and a mid—term result that strengthens the also uber—Liberal Netroots.

Hillary would welcome near parity in the congress for now. But a majority threatens her ultimate ambition more than Karl Rove. If Dean and the Netroots crash, Hillary, the Democratic Leadership Conference and the Blue Dog Dems are the only ones around to pick up the pieces heading into 2008.

I am afraid I am not convinced by this reasoning. I just do not see Congressional elections being swung by a buried mea culpa in the New York Times about one of its stories.

If there is anything hidden here, I have to wonder if the Times has been notified by the Department of Justice that it is under investigation for possible criminal violations in publishing classified information. Pure uninformed speculation on my part. But the Times is already under court order in a civil suit to release the names of some anonymous sources, and may end up forced to pay millions of dollars to Steven Hatfill if it does not comply. With earnings down (again) can the Times really afford to disobey a court order and face unknown liability? How about a criminal prosecution, say, for espionage?

Having taken the position that the 'outer' of Valeire Plame should be revealed, the Times is now in weak position to resist revealing its sources in the SWIFT program story.

If the possibility of a criminal prosecution looms, perhaps Calame is buying himself some insurance.

Thomas Lifson   10 24 06