Jultra Truth. Freedom. Oh and the end of New Labour and Tony Blair, Ian Blair, ID cards, terror laws and the NWO and their lies

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New York Times' Bill Keller letter

"[...] 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.) Some comes from readers who have considered the story in question and wonder whether publishing such material is wise. And some comes from readers who are grateful for the information and think it is valuable to have a public debate about the lengths to which our government has gone in combatting the threat of terror.

It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the president and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the president at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.

The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly. The responsibility of it weighs most heavily on us when an issue involves national security, and especially national security in times of war. I've only participated in a few such cases, but they are among the most agonizing decisions I've faced as an editor.

The press and the government generally start out from opposite corners in such cases. The government would like us to publish only the official line, and some of our elected leaders tend to view anything else as harmful to the national interest. For example, some members of the administration have argued over the past three years that when our reporters describe sectarian violence and insurgency in Iraq, we risk demoralizing the nation and giving comfort to the enemy. Editors start from the premise that citizens can be entrusted with unpleasant and complicated news, and that the more they know the better they will be able to make their views known to their elected officials. Our default position - our job - is to publish information if we are convinced it is fair and accurate, and our biggest failures have generally been when we failed to dig deep enough or to report fully enough. After The Times played down its advance knowledge of the Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy reportedly said he wished we had published what we knew and perhaps prevented a fiasco. Some of the reporting in The Times and elsewhere prior to the war in Iraq was criticized for not being skeptical enough of the administration's claims about the Iraqi threat. The question we start with as journalists is not "why publish?" but "why would we withhold information of significance?" We have sometimes done so, holding stories or editing out details that could serve those hostile to the U.S. But we need a compelling reason to do so.

Forgive me, I know this is pretty elementary stuff - but it's the kind of elementary context that sometimes gets lost in the heat of strong disagreements.

Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress. Most Americans seem to support extraordinary measures in defense against this extraordinary threat, but some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight. We believe The Times and others in the press have served the public interest by accurately reporting on these programs so that the public can have an informed view of them.

And then the letter descends into a more kowtowed tone.

The NYT have a responsibility to publish what is actually going on, and Keller doesn't need to apologise or add disclaimers about what the New York Times is doing. What very few media outlets internationally wish to acknowledge is that there is no public consensus on 'the war on terror' and the backdrop it is providing, there is no uniform abiding flock of awestruck plebs, devotedly lining up to be stripped of their humanity, waving flags for the 'Clash of Civilizations', or 9/11 Commission director Philip Zelikow's 'post-cataclysmic terrorism' essay written in 1998.

The New York Times have been caught ignoring vital testimony, playing foolish war cheerleader and propaganda machine and indulging in alarming and highly visible self-censorship, perhaps to ensure their own interests, or that of their parent company are not overly threatened by being perceived as at odds with the prevailing political atmosphere.

They have displayed a recklessly casual attitude to the liberty of Americans, and in light of the fact that they deliberately sat on the NSA spying scandal for over a year 1 at the behest of the White House, one can only wonder what else the NYT is currently sitting on today.

From the point of view of someone in the UK like myself, it defies all reason that the New York Times is having to justify breaking stories about an ongoing and horrific coup against the American Constitution, the facts are that it is not breaking these stories enough, willingly enough or fast enough and has a great deal of redeeming to do.

Read entire letter here.


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