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Over a Month Later, USA Today Admits Flaws in NSA Database Story

If you read Wizbang you'd know that over a month ago, key elements of the USAToday call database story were starting to fall apart. First Bellsouth and Verizon denied they gave any data to the NSA, then Bellsouth went so far as to demand a retraction.

Now, 6 weeks later, in a "A note to our readers" the USAToday gets around to admitting they got it wrong... But like all the big media errors of late, they don't accept responsibility for screwing up... They lay the blame on the accused for not denying it strenuously enough.

The denial was unexpected. USA TODAY had spoken with BellSouth and Verizon for several weeks about the substance of the report. The day before the article was published, the reporter read the sections of the article concerning BellSouth and Verizon to representatives of the companies and asked for a denial before publication.

At the time, BellSouth did not deny participation in the program, but it issued a statement saying the company "does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any government agency without proper legal authority." Verizon said that it would not comment on national security matters and that it acts "in full compliance with the law" and with respect for customers' privacy.

On May 15, BellSouth said it could not categorically deny participation in the program until it had conducted a detailed investigation. BellSouth said that internal review concluded that the company did not contract with the NSA or turn over calling records.

It's all Bellsouth's fault for not denying it enough. How much more cowardly can they get? Bellsouth demanded a retraction a over a month ago and when the USAToday does finally print something they blame the victims of their false accusations.

Next I guess they'll win a Pulitzer for investigative reporting.


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» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with USA Today: Call database not so broad

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» Below The Beltway linked with Oops Never Mind

Comments (39)

"They lay the blame on the ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"They lay the blame on the accused for not denying it strenuously enough. "

Seems to be a lot of that going around lately. Didn't the NYTimes say the Bush admin only 'halfheartedly' asked them not to publish the SWIFT story?

What a bunch of children the Media has become.

CBS also blamed Bush for th... (Below threshold)
Paul:

CBS also blamed Bush for the Rathergate fiasco becasue he didn't alert them that the papers they were running were bogus.

If Gannett's phone bill dou... (Below threshold)

If Gannett's phone bill doubled overnight ...

Also, notice the timing and... (Below threshold)
scsiwuzzy:

Also, notice the timing and location of their 'retraction'. The start of a holiday weekend, and unlike the story they got wrong, not on the front page.

My response to USA Today wa... (Below threshold)
Dave in San Diego:

My response to USA Today was:

In your "Note to Readers", dated 06/20/2006, you referred to your 05/11 and 05/15 articles on the alledged NSA database collection through various telecommunication companies.

The thrust of this "Note to Readers" appears to be shifting the inaccuracy of the May articles to the telecommunications companies lack of vigorous denial of their participtation in the program.

Sorry, but this has all the analogy of a rapist using a defense that the vicitim did not vigorously fight off her rapist.

Ouch, Dave. Nail. Hit. H... (Below threshold)

Ouch, Dave. Nail. Hit. Head.

And never mind the fact tha... (Below threshold)

And never mind the fact that this backtracking was done on a Friday before a long weekend so that folks aren't really paying attention to the news.

Nothing quite like burying the news in plain sight...

Do people still buy USA tod... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Do people still buy USA today? I quit a couple years ago (when i cancelled all Media General pubs)and so did a lot of people judging by the number of copies left in their boxes. I wouldn't pay two cents for a NYT/LAT/USA today combined. Buying them is almost as stupid as getting your 'news' from the antique MSM or the Communist News Network(CNN). Pravda is more accurate these days, at least you know all of their articles are lies in favor of communism, no pretense of being fair.

So your an authorized media... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

So your an authorized media spokesperson for a fortune 500 company (a position I held at one time in my career). You are asked about X. If you say, we don't do X but it turns out you do later, your career takes a personal hit and the story gets bigger as initially the company tried to "cover up the truth".

But with the MSM logic, if you don't catagorically deny everything in the story and say you need to investigate and get back to them, then its your fault if they run the story.

I think we may want to revisit the libel laws a bit.

lawhawk & Paul... (Below threshold)
mak44:

lawhawk & Paul

Lawhawk, you posted: "And never mind the fact that this backtracking was done on a Friday before a long weekend so that folks aren't really paying attention to the news.

Nothing quite like burying the news in plain sight..."

No problem w/ your comment about this story, BUT, it appears that the author of this thread, Paul, did about the same thing w/ his story about the so-called Murtha quote at a FL townhall meeting in last Sunday's Wizbang, Vote Democrat in 2006.

He went on to castigate a commenter, Chancuff, for posting about a likely retraction by the Sun-Sentinel, telling him that he was, "full of shit."

When the Sun-Sentinel printed a retraction on this past Thursday, Paul saw fit to make an equivocal retraction that he buried buried back in his Sunday's thread where likely no one would ever see it.

The retraction was so qualified, that it was not much different than USA Today's semi-retraction that he now takes to task.

Looks like an obvious instance of the pot (Paul) calling the kettle black.

But with the MSM logic, ... (Below threshold)
MnZ:

But with the MSM logic, if you don't catagorically deny everything in the story and say you need to investigate and get back to them, then its your fault if they run the story.

Notice that the USA Today expected BellSouth and Verizon to confirm or deny their story out in a single day. However, it took the USA Today over a month to check Verizon and BellSouth's denials.

Double standard? It looks like it.

Ouch, Mak44. Nail. Hit. Hea... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Ouch, Mak44. Nail. Hit. Head.

Yes, a blog where you can p... (Below threshold)

Yes, a blog where you can post as soon as the urge hits you is just like a newspaper with set filing deadlines. Excellent comparison.

morons.

and of course no one reads this site on weekends, like newspapers and holiday weekends. an inspired comparison.

morons.

Hey LEE!Rem... (Below threshold)
DavidB:

Hey LEE!

Remember this?

Lee at June 28, 2006 01:38 PM

Hopefully our other programs don't have the shortcomings that this one had, and then the NYT won't feel the need to expose them.
Please, Lee, in all of your wisdom and that of the Times, please list the shortcomings. Please, because it was a legal program with oversight, where were the shortcomings?

Now Lee, I'm asking nicely, so try to address the question please.

Oh, and I would love to see your response to DaveD's post of June 28, 2006 01:49 PM. I know your realyy busy, so when you get a chance.

Posted by: DavidB at June 28, 2006 02:13 PM

Still waiting, and listening to the crickets.

Every post you make just further confirms your troll-ness. You couldn't be bothered to respond when challenged to support your POV with facts.

Just a typical troll.

LeeGlad tou... (Below threshold)
mak44:

Lee

Glad tou liked it.

Still waiting to see if Paul has a logical explanation for his "weasel" retraction juxtaposed to the rant in this thread.

Mak, Lee is a prove... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Mak,
Lee is a proven propagandist willing to smear the US military and the gov effort to fight terrorism (eg. Haditha and this USA story). The liberal MSM has been caught red-handed lying. Why would two of you participate in such a lie and propaganda?

Accepting responsibility fo... (Below threshold)
Buckeye:

Accepting responsibility for one's actions in today's world is the exception not the rule.

I think Paul has accepted r... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

I think Paul has accepted responsibility and give the explanation already, but mak and lee always tried to divert attention every time the liberal MSM is caught in a lie. I wonder why they have to participate in such a blatant lie and propaganda? They simply want to trash the US and its military? Do they hate the military that much?

Mak - Paul even went so far... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Mak - Paul even went so far in defending himself on this issue that he cited jp2s request for a retraction as a reason to delete comments.

(jp2 wrote) "When Paul attributes quotes to Murtha that Murtha didn't say, someone has to correct him. (Waiting for a Wizbang retraction on that one)"

(Paul replies:)
And Wizbang is still waiting for you to get your fact right on that one.

See THAT is what I delete people for. You simply lie and think it is the truth. It's sad really.

Posted by: Paul at June 28, 2006 10:23 AM


Morally bankrupt republicans who shout down (and delete if possible) the truth -- don't you just love 'em!

LoveAmerica Immigreant</... (Below threshold)
mak44:

LoveAmerica Immigreant

Apparently LAI, all you want are Hosnahs & Amens feom a bunch of usual Wizbang posters.

If you're so deft w/ your new language, go back & read the original thread I referred to and this thread. Now. tell me, if you understand English: is this not hypocrisy?

Paul has accepted no responsibility whatever because his belated addendum to his post is about as equivocal s it comes... and it was posted to his original thread that none of you in the choir would ever have known about, had I not referenced to it.

Go back to your "Immigrant Training Manual" and look up the definition of "Hypocrisy." You might try also looking in your "Immigrant's Judeo-Christian Bible Manual" for references to "Pharisees."

I'll give you a hint: it's in the New Testamant.

Lee, I am still wai... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Lee,
I am still waiting for your apology for the Haditha smear. Now I found out that you participated in another lie with the USA today.
Please keep posting. You are a prime example of what 's wrong with the liberal left today.

Mak44, Why are you ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Mak44,
Why are you participating in the cover-up for the USA today and the NYT? Why don't you ask Lee to offer his apology for the Haditha smear? Not only that you seem to enable him in this smear? Is this hyprocrisy?

THe USA today is a major newspaper that has been caught red-handed lying. Why do you go to such an extent to defend such a lie from a major newspaper? I just try to understand why.

mak, Thanks for post... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

mak,
Thanks for posting though. Without you and Lee we tend to forget what the left is like. You are right, it is good to have dissenting voices. Other folks just have the better arg though (like Publicus). You do provide the fun though.

LoveAmerica Immigrant</b... (Below threshold)
mak44:

LoveAmerica Immigrant

You didn't address any aspect of my postinfs, save snide bleating "poll parrot" comments. Are you sure that you are not some "immigrant" animal (bleating sheeple or trained parrot) that should have gone thru Agricultural Inspection rather than Immigration?

Mak - you're wasting your t... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Mak - you're wasting your time on LAI. She's insane.

Mak - you're wasting yo... (Below threshold)
Marc:

Mak - you're wasting your time on LAI. She's insane.

If that isn't a valid case for banishment I don't know what is.

LoveAmerica Immigrant</b... (Below threshold)
mak44:

LoveAmerica Immigrant

Nowhere on this thread can you point to any defense of USAToday by me.

Your absurd accusation is shit.

Wgat you do prove, however, is that you could not poassiblt have passed an English reading comprehension test to gain US citizenship because you show again & again on this thread that you are so daft, I wonder whether you can comprehend your motherr tongue.

My God, even a poll parrot has a better level of comprhension than you do.

LoveAmerica Immigrant. wanna cracker?

Mak,Nowhere on this ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Mak,
Nowhere on this thread can you point to any defense of USAToday by me.
---------------------------------------------
Cheap arg, Mak. You tried to divert attention from the USA lie by attacking Paul. That 's standard practice. Just give you another example: the left constantly attacked the shortcomings of the US during the cold war to divert attention or to cover up the atrocities of the communists. The same thing the USA Today and NYT today are doing for the terrorists.

So you agree that the USA today and NYT have been lying and their standard of journalism is in the basement? Can we agree on the dishonesty of the liberal MSM, in particular the USA today and NYT before moving on?

If that isn't a valid case ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

If that isn't a valid case for banishment I don't know what is.
------------------------------------------------
Thank you for demonstrating again that you have no arg to make. So in the end you have to resort to name calling or attacking Paul to divert attention from the obvious dishonesty of the liberal MSM.

what I said...... (Below threshold)
Lee:

what I said...

Welcome back Lee. Still wai... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Welcome back Lee. Still wait to see whether you are honest enough to admit the dishonesty of the liberal USA Today and NYT.

LoveAmerica Ignorgant</b... (Below threshold)
mak44:

LoveAmerica Ignorgant

You just plain do not comprehend the language of your newly adopted country.

You are making up arguments where none exist.

In addition, I was not divertting from anything but instead drawing a parallel between Paul's bitcing about USAToaday & the sleazy weasel retraction that he did after his fraudulent "swiftboating" of Murtha.

If one is going to bitch about half-hearted belated retractions after doing the same thing himself, it spells HYPOCRITE to me.

You must be a Viet Namese poll-parrot immigrant because all you can do is regurgitate what someone says. As such, did you get your immigrant papers at the USDA animal inspection?

mak44, So we can ag... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

mak44,
So we can agree on the dishonesty of the liberal USA Today and the NYT for that matter? CAn we agree that their standard of journalism is in the basement? THis is the point of the thread? Once we agree on that, I can ask Paul why he was accused of stooping to the low level of the liberal icons at USA Today and the NYT.

Fair enough? Can we public agree on the dishonesty of the USA Today and the NYT now?

mak, BTW feel free ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

mak,
BTW feel free to keep up your cheap name calling. It is proof that you may have been caught in a diversion tactic and has no arg to make.

Jesus, Michael, why do you ... (Below threshold)
wave_man:

Jesus, Michael, why do you seem to resort to name calling in your responses? Calm down, son.

The funny part is that mak ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

The funny part is that mak and Lee don't realize that there is no lack of proof of Murtha being a Benedict Arnold to this country.

There is a startling lack of proof of the USA Today/NSA story.
-=Mike

On this phone carrier coope... (Below threshold)
lowellfield:

On this phone carrier cooperation story: I think to take the fact that the phone companies are now making denials falls short of exculpatory evidence.

I recommend the video footage of AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre's testimony before Specter and the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was chilling.

USA Today obviously has to retract their story to the extent it relied on the phone companies' confimation (or non-denial), but does anyone really doubt that pretty much everyone except Qwest was handing over alll that shit?

I'm not even going to get into the story about the probable NSA saferoom at AT&T's main data hub in St. Louis... because that story was only run in Salon, and thus I can't expect it to get taken seriously here.

If this administration could get Belgium to play ball, I think it's unreasonable to insist they didn't get Whitacre et al.

USA Today obviously has ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

USA Today obviously has to retract their story to the extent it relied on the phone companies' confimation (or non-denial), but does anyone really doubt that pretty much everyone except Qwest was handing over alll that shit?

Yup.

Seeing as how I've never seen, you know, proof of it or anything.

And you should read Qwest's "privacy statement" before holding them up as paragons of virtue here.
-=Mike

hey everyone. 9/11 was an i... (Below threshold)
Nick:

hey everyone. 9/11 was an inside job and the nsa has been doing more than listening to our phone calls. lets take our country back before its all out dictatorship!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ic28IIBE-V8

p.s. loveamerica immigrant is still stuck in the democrat/republican paridigm




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