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L.A.Times' Attempt To Explain Why They Published Classified Information

Patterico has posted the transcript of a radio interview with L.A. Times Washington Bureau Chief, Doyle McManus in which he attempts to explain why they publish classified information:

Want to hear more about the L.A. Times's rationale for publishing classified information about a successful anti-terror program? L.A. Times columnist Pattt* Morrison has a radio program on local radio station KPCC, and interviewed Times Washington Bureau Chief Doyle McManus about how the story started, and why the paper felt justified printing the story. ..

The bottom line is, of course, that McManus and his colleagues took it upon themselves to decide what classified information the public (and our enemies) should know about. Bizarrely, he claims that the critical factors in his decision were whether the program was legal and had adequate safeguards -- even though, as I document in a related post, it was indeed legal and had extensive safeguards in place. Thus, his excuses are an apparent cover for some other motivation, as yet unrealed.

Follow the link to read the interview transcript.

Michelle Malkin has a great roundup of the latest on this topic, including commentary on Bill Keller and the NYT, as well..


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Comments (37)

...because terrorist (inqui... (Below threshold)

...because terrorist (inquiring) minds need to know.

If you think our government... (Below threshold)
Lee:

If you think our government can act in secrecy just be declaring everything they do as "classified"... think again.

Yep Lee, you're right. BTW... (Below threshold)
kbiel:

Yep Lee, you're right. BTW, watch out for those black helicopters.

kbiel - they're actually pi... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

kbiel - they're actually pink. As in Code Pink.

Hmm, the left bitches that ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Hmm, the left bitches that Bush is not "diplomatic".

They then proceed to burn any country who agrees to work with us by constantly leaking info.

Which assures that countries WON'T work with us because our idiot CIA and treacherous media won't keep anything quiet.

Good plan. It shows GREAT leadership to burn all possible bridges with people who might work with us.

...unless a Dem can guarantee the press won't report a thing they do. Which they probably can.

The House GOP should suspend ALL funding from the CIA until the leakers come forward.
-=Mike

MikeSC - which country was ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

MikeSC - which country was burned?

Good luck getting European ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Good luck getting European states to work with us after the prisons story.

Good luck getting European banks to work with us after this story.
-=Mike

Mike - so you're not going ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Mike - so you're not going to name the country that was burned by this? You're suggesting that Europe in general isn't going to cooperate with us?

Many EU countries cooperated with us when we established secret prisons inside their borders for the purposes of torturing captives... why will this make them less cooperative, Mike?

What countries were those, ... (Below threshold)
scsiwuzzy:

What countries were those, Lee?

Mike - are you suggesting t... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Mike - are you suggesting that our allied EU countries will be upset with us because we were spying on their citizens without informing our allies of that fact?

Apparently that's the case -- we hadn't informed them!

AP's Terry Hunt reports: (emphasis added)

Meanwhile, the administration said it has informed major allies that the secret program has adequate privacy safeguards and will continue.

Tony Fratto, chief spokesman for the Treasury Department, said the contacts were made following the disclosure. "We have made a point of reaching out to our partners in the international community to make sure they understand our views and the safeguards we have in place," he said. "We want to make sure it was clear to our partners that we value this program."

Wow - we were spying on allied countries without their knowledge. Chalk up another foreign diplomacy debacle for Bush and Cheney.

SCSI - Poland and Romania c... (Below threshold)
Lee:

SCSI - Poland and Romania come to mind, can't recall what others... sorry.

The only thing the administ... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

The only thing the administration advised the other countries of is that we were in fact acting to make sure there were no further leaks about the SWIFT program... It's highly unlikely that the other countries involved in SWIFT didn't know we were using the program since to do so would have required their active participation. Thanks for yet another stupid comment, Lee.

Listkeeper said:<i... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Listkeeper said:

It's highly unlikely that the other countries involved in SWIFT didn't know we were using the program since to do so would have required their active participation.

To do so would have required their participation? Where did you read that, Listkeeper? Can you provide a link? I'll retract my statement if you can provide a link. Ohhh, won't that be embarassing for me! Hurry, post a link. I'll check back every hour or so....

and if you can't -- Ill be happy to accept your apology for calling my correct comment "stupid".

Sorry to do this List, but I looked around after you posted your reply to my comment and I can't find a single place where anyone has said that countries effected by our Swift investigation knew of its existence. If you are just assuming they knew because you assume the program couldn't operate without their knowledge, you could be forced to eat those words. A worldwide clearing house could very well be tapped without every country in the world knowing about it.

Checked further -- here's a report I just uncovered Listkeeper - you may want to grab the salt and pepper before reading it. It states that the Belgium government just learned of this program from the media.

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -

Belgium's government said on Monday it was investigating the legality of counter-terrorism searches by U.S. officials of thousands of private records held by Brussels-based international bank cooperative SWIFT.

U.S. media reported last week that the U.S. Treasury Department had been tapping into records of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications since September 11, 2001 for evidence of potential activity by terrorist groups.

Belgian Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx learned of the searches from the media and asked Belgium's national security services and counter-fraud office to produce reports into the matter before the end of the week, a ministry spokeswoman said.

Damn, reality has a definite left-leaning bias again!

Lee, are you off today? I ... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf:

Lee, are you off today? I think you are off everyday. Lee do you understand there are laws against revealing government secrets for a reason? If so, please explain your take on that reason. What part of telling the enemy what your plans are and how you operate is self-defeating do you not understand. Lastly, Lee, where do you think the Palistinians got the WMD they claim to have? Interesting.

I love it: "the fear of abu... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

I love it: "the fear of abuse by unchecked power" of the Bush Admin. You Libs. are idiots.

Look at history, if you can put down your NY Times and cafe latte's for a moment.

We have never been freer. Never. Our Pres. constantly talks about tolerance for Muslims, gays, blacks, hispanics, Iraquis and Afghanis, to name a few of the groups. Adequate education for children who are the least powerful among us.

The right to abortion in 2006 has never been so fully exercised. The rates of abortion are sky high.

The rate of home ownership--and yes, minority home ownership--is higher now than during any previous presidency.

Latino students virtually shut down a school over immigration protests, and they are allowed back in without any "jack-booted Bush thugs" clearing them out. In fact, the Anglo kids who try to protest are the ones disciplined!

Gay marriage is legal in Massachusets and several other places. When did that happen? On Bush's watch!!

This administration has taken great pains, greater than previous ones--including Clinton's--to brief FISA and other federal courts, as well as congressional leaders, on the most sensitive intelligence programs. Programs which the great weight of legal opinion finds perfectly legal. Even at the cost of having the NY Times betray those secrets, the Administration has been careful, and has not hidden any abuse of any kind. None.

There is no white house travel office, no Monica, no white water, no Brodderick, no IRS audits of political adversaries, no bribes of admin. officials. No abuse of government power, unlike his predecessor.

And, no homes have been sacked, no offices searched, no hints of even one domestic call among our citizens intercepted or listened to. No public speech stopped. In fact, protesters are everywhere to be seen.

Where exactly are all the people who've lost their precious freedoms the past 6 years of Bush? Under a rock someplace? Deported? Where exactly--besides in in the fevered minds of the Liberal crowd?

So, I ask you, when have YOU been freer--in the entire history of this country, when have we been more prosperous and free?

Many EU countries cooper... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Many EU countries cooperated with us when we established secret prisons inside their borders for the purposes of torturing captives... why will this make them less cooperative, Mike?

The fact that you even feel the need to ASK the question is a bit sad.

Wow - we were spying on allied countries without their knowledge. Chalk up another foreign diplomacy debacle for Bush and Cheney.

We worked with the banks. Legally. We could have easily hacked into them and nobody would have known, but we decided to work WITH the banks.

Seeing as how the secret prisons story ended up being unfounded, crap like this is only going to make things worse.
-=Mike

"Lee do you understand t... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"Lee do you understand there are laws against revealing government secrets for a reason?"

The actions of the NYT and the LAT are protected by the first amendment , Zelsdorf, or did the Republicans secretly do away with the Bill of Rights too?

"We worked with the bank... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"We worked with the banks. Legally. We could have easily hacked into them and nobody would have known, but we decided to work WITH the banks.

I referred to countries, you refer to banks. Quit moving the goalposts, MikeSC.

As to your statement ref foreign banks that "We could have easily hacked into them and nobody would have known" you have proven that you are just shooting from the hip, and not dealing with facts but with your own made up perceptions, like Listkeeper.

Arguing with people who keep reinveting their own reality to suit their arguments is pointless.

Really, MikeSC, we could have just hacked into their banks and gotten the info? Thanks, but I'll leave you to your fantasy world now. Enjoy the puffy white clouds.

The actions of the NYT a... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

The actions of the NYT and the LAT are protected by the first amendment , Zelsdorf, or did the Republicans secretly do away with the Bill of Rights too?

That is not an entirely accurate statement Lee.

How so, J.R.?... (Below threshold)
Lee:

How so, J.R.?

I referred to countries,... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

I referred to countries, you refer to banks. Quit moving the goalposts, MikeSC.

And I referred to countries with the prisons story, not the banking story.

Shall I use smaller words so you can follow better?

As to your statement ref foreign banks that "We could have easily hacked into them and nobody would have known" you have proven that you are just shooting from the hip, and not dealing with facts but with your own made up perceptions, like Listkeeper.

If you truly believe the federal gov't does not have people who can hack into just about any computer known to man, you're truly oblivious.

Really, MikeSC, we could have just hacked into their banks and gotten the info? Thanks, but I'll leave you to your fantasy world now. Enjoy the puffy white clouds.

Yes, we could have. Not even a question if we could have.

And, Lee, if you are so ignorant to law as to not recognize that Freedom of the Press is not the same, nor has it ever been the same, as freedom from prosecution for illegal actions, you're a little hopeless.

The press cannot be victimized by prior restraint. They CAN be penalized (heck, even liberal God Harry Blackmun stated this) for what they publish.
-=Mike

You may want to consult Jud... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

You may want to consult Judith Miller about that. Maybe you've heard about libel or slander? Or do you think that the press is free to print whatever they want?? Or what about the Espionage Act of 1917 as McCain cites in another thread?

Do you still think the press has complete, unabridged freedom? And like I posted in another thread, Glenn Reynolds states it much more knowlingly and eloquently than I ever could when he says:

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the "freedom of the press" the Framers described was also called "freedom in the use of the press." It's the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry. (A bit more on this topic can be found here.)

I said: "I referred to c... (Below threshold)
Lee:

I said: "I referred to countries, you refer to banks. Quit moving the goalposts, MikeSC.

And MikeSC replies: "And I referred to countries with the prisons story, not the banking story."

"Shall I use smaller words so you can follow better?"

Quoting what Mikey said, on the thread titled Is the NY Times at War With America?

Hmm, the left bitches that Bush is not "diplomatic".

They then proceed to burn any country who agrees to work with us by constantly leaking info.

Which assures that countries WON'T work with us because our idiot CIA and treacherous media won't keep anything quiet.

Good plan. It shows GREAT leadership to burn all possible bridges with people who might work with us.

Ahh, those puffy clouds of "Mikey's World" are shown to be nothing more than fantasies and BS again. The rest of what you write isn't worth responding to either, Mike, ok? Or shall I use smaller words so you can follow better?

You are a lying BS'er, but many of Bush apologists on this board are the same, so it's obvious why you feel so comfortable around here.

Yes, Lee, I was directly co... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Yes, Lee, I was directly commenting on only the banking story. Why it says so right...actually, where does it say that?

Come on, you can enlighten us, can't you Sparky?

The rest of what you write isn't worth responding to either, Mike, ok? Or shall I use smaller words so you can follow better?

A less visible font would be a marked improvement for you.

You are a lying BS'er, but many of Bush apologists on this board are the same, so it's obvious why you feel so comfortable around here.

Wizbang could do what Kos does and ban you. Be glad that conservative blogs tend to be dramatically more open to disagreeable trolls such as yourself.
-=Mike

J. R. Maybe you've heard... (Below threshold)
Lee:

J. R. Maybe you've heard about libel or slander? Or do you think that the press is free to print whatever they want??

No, the press isn't free to publish whatever they want, but they were free to publish what they published in this instance. They are protected by the First mendment, in this instance. Nothing you or the sources you cited suggest or explicitly state otherwise, either.

So is this a case of libel or slander? No. And what I read of Glenn reynolds opinion on the Times' actions he isn't saying that what they did stepped outside of the First Amendment either.

I asked you to back up your claim that the NYT is not protected in this instance by the First Amendment, so why the strawman argument about libel and slander?

No, the Amendment provides ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

No, the Amendment provides the freedom to publish --- not the freedom for consequences for what you publish.

The Espionage Act clearly states that those who broadcast classified material are guilty of violating the law and the press is not protected from that.

You know, from a group that seems so obsessed with checks and balances, the left seems comfortable with the utter lack of checks for the press.
-=Mike

Lee, I was merely pointing ... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

Lee, I was merely pointing out that freedom of the press is not guaranteed. I then illustrated my points to you further along in the post. Don't give me that crap about a straw man.

The papers printed classified information, that is illegal, thus not guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Lee, as a practicing lawyer... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Lee, as a practicing lawyer for the past 15 years, you lose the First Amendment debate.

Just as surely as the NY Times did when it came to trying to protect their reporters from Mr. Fitzgerald.

Your arguments would be better off on Kos, where facts and knowledge are strictly optional.

SCSI - Poland and Romani... (Below threshold)
scsiwuzzy:

SCSI - Poland and Romania come to mind, can't recall what others... sorry.

Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and President Aleksander Kwaśniewski seem to disagree with what comes in your mind.
Norica Nicolai does too.

Scsi - no one told them? I'... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Scsi - no one told them? I'm not suprised... apparently we never told the government of Belgium that we were data-mining the Swift database, based in Brussels.

Yes, it is the same thing. Especially when you consider that were data-mining the bank records of many, many countries, and didn't tell them either.

MikeSC - Brussels is the capital of Belgium (saved you the trouble of looking it up!)

J.R. - I understand that, but are you also saying that anything that Bush declares is "classified" can't be published? I don't believe that's the case.

Mitchell - You're a lawyer? Ewwwww.

So Lee, those elected membe... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

So Lee, those elected members of foreign powers are, in your mind, dupes or liars?

"So Lee, those elected m... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"So Lee, those elected members of foreign powers are, in your mind, dupes or liars?"

No, Scsi, in my mind they are pissed off allies who are probably less likely to cooperate with US concerns over terrorism than they were before we screwed them.

That makes the Republicans who said they were interested in securing our nation the "liars", and the people who defend those idiots "dupes".

Thanks for asking.

SWIFT has nothing to do wit... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

SWIFT has nothing to do with the government of Belgium. Another red herring.

It is a private group that processes electronic money transfers. It doesn't process constitutionally protected info per 30 year old Supreme Court precedent. The info is only bank account numbers from, to, through and name on the originating and target accounts.

Ewww. Lee is ignorant.

Another fallacy you mention... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Another fallacy you mention, Lee, is that these are "foregin country bank records."

Well, no they're not. They are property of the banks involved, and SWIFT. They relate to individuals, not countries.

When the individuals gave the information to their bank for handling with SWIFT, the info lost its privacy protections per Supreme Court law, the law of the land. You can't have an expectation of privacy in the constitutional sense if you gave wiring instructions to several different banks, and SWIFT.

Lee, you are a font of opinion, but little accurate information. You should interview for a reporter with NYT, LAT, Hardball, Olberman, et al.

"Another fallacy you men... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"Another fallacy you mention, Lee, is that these are "foregin country bank records."

"Well, no they're not. They are property of the banks involved, and SWIFT. They relate to individuals, not countries."

Do you understand that we are talking about a program that looks excusively at foreign banking transactions, where at least one side of the transaction took place outside of the U.S.?

Generally "outside of the U.S." will involve at least one foreign country, last time I checked anyway...

"When the individuals gave the information to their bank for handling with SWIFT, the info lost its privacy protections per Supreme Court law, the law of the land."

Uhmm, wouldn't the U.S. Supreme court "law" that you uhmmm, "cite" not really apply to transactions involving foreign citizens using foreign banks in foreign countries... or has that darn Supreme Court overstepped its bounds again?!?!

"You can't have an expectation of privacy in the constitutional sense if you gave wiring instructions to several different banks, and SWIFT."

Really. How interesting. Thanks for your insight, a pleasure talking to you.

"Lee, you are a font of opinion, but little accurate information. You should interview for a reporter with NYT, LAT, Hardball, Olberman, et al."

Thanks!

Lee, you don't know the law... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Lee, you don't know the law. It would be wise to pick a fight on other grounds--call us racist/sexist/warmongers, you know, your usual.

The Supreme Court law applies to U.S. Citizens. A foreigner has not standing since they are not citizens of the U.S. What is your point, exactly? That we are violating the law when we track transfers of terrorist funding to non-citizens? Supreme Court has nothing to do with that. The Europeans are tracking these funding techniques, too. Who is upset about this besides you and your little lib. group?

Even the NY Times found it was legal, twerp.

my point is that you don't ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

my point is that you don't know the law, or you would post such inane crap such as suggesting that "Supreme Court law, the law of the land" applies to foreigners initiating banking transactions in their home country, which are exactly the types of transaction this program tracks, moron.





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