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  • Somerville v. The New York Times

    Filed at 1:42 pm under by Scott Somerville

    Daryl has graciously allowed me to make my case against the New York Times on his site. Daryl has the courage of his convictions—I admire his courage even though I deplore his convictions. With that, let the debate begin!

    The Times argues that they haven’t done any real harm to national security, and that the information they published was available elsewhere anyway. If that turns out to be true, then I would agree they have not provided material aid and comfort to America’s enemies. In that case, this whole case would be perfectly parallel to the “outing” of Valerie Plame.

    I don’t believe this is a parallel case, however. On the contrary, I think the Times has provided material aid and comfort to America’s sworn enemies.

    The Times argues that this information was already available, so it makes no difference. I would agree that it should have little to no impact on the handful of highly-trained experts who are left at the top of the Al Qaeda network, but it makes a huge difference to the ragtag mob of terrorist wannabes like the seven that were recently apprehended in Miami or the seventeen in Toronto. In this war, a lucky amateur can kill you just as dead as trained professionals like Al-Zarqawi.

    Our adversaries in today’s asymmetric warfare are not the uniformed soldiers of a nation-state, but a radically decentralized set of suicidal murderers. The good news is that they lack any reliable means of acquiring arms, training, funds, or information. At one stroke, the Times has provided the information that teaches our enemies how to not transfer the funds they need to get the weapons they use to kill us.

    I would not say that the Times has “adhered to” America’s enemies, so they aren’t guilty of “treason” (as that term is defined by statute), but they have demonstrably provided material aid and comfort to America’s sworn enemies. I think the Times owes America a public apology.

    7 Responses to “Somerville v. The New York Times”

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 29th, 2006
    at 3:32 pm

    First, Bush himself talked of this program during the 2004 election season, so it was hardly a secret. Al Qaeda had quit wiring funds around the world by 2003. They have demonstrably provided material aid and comfort to America’s sworn enemies This is an assertion. You have provided absolutely no evidence that this is so.

    Second, do you really mean to imply that the morons in Miami, who asked “Al Qaeda” for official terrorist uniforms would be able to find New York on a map, much less read and interpret the New York Times?

    Third, this program, while possibly legal in the US, almost certainly was not in the EU. So, it was questionable, at best, whether this program’s alleged benefits outweigh the privacy concerns. Those decisions are not left up to the Unitary Executive, but to the Courts and to the people. And the people are informed by the Press (when it does its job).

    Fourth, given all of the other scandals surrounding the Bush Administration’s waging of the GWOT, they have earned exactly ZERO trust. Their protestations that THIS TIME it’s different fall on deaf ears.

    Fifth, and finally, you’re found guilty of re-framing. You were ready to try them for treason and were calling for a boycott of all of their advertisers. Now all you want is an apology.

    I stand by my opinion of Right Blogistan.

    Comment by
    June 29th, 2006
    at 4:00 pm

    This whole right wing attack on anyone who disagrees smacks of McCarthyism. Either you wholeheartedly agree with me and what I purport to be the truth, or you must by necessity be actively hoping that the terrorists win. Either the New York Times is willing to help Bush break laws by helping to keep his secrets, or they deplore democracy and are aiding the terrorists.

    The cronyism and back scratching and hidden agendas and homeland spying and lies by this administration give reason to suspect all that they do.

    I will personally end with this. How can anyone think that Al Queda doesn’t know how to transfer money and buy guns? That’s basically what they do isn’t it? Maybe we should keep it a secret that the poppies that grow so well in Asia Minor are also useful for making narcotics that one can sell for money which will purchase guns. Oh Crap! I just gave the enemy comfort! Crap!Crap!Crap!

    Comment by
    Scott Somerville
    June 29th, 2006
    at 4:04 pm

    Let’s start with the “fifth and finally” bit, Daryl. Here’s the actual quote from my post:

    I try to stick to homeschool stuff on this page, but I’m truly ticked off at the New York Times. I haven’t looked into the law enough to figure out whether their publication of classified information counts as treason or not, but I live within fallout range of the Washington Monument and I, for one, don’t appreciate the arrogance of the media elites who think they know more about protecting my children than my elected officials do.

    So, no, I wasn’t ready to “try them for treason,” but I was (and still am) calling for a boycott of all their advertisers. I would drop my call for a boycott in a moment if the Times was willing to apologize, however. Without the public apology, however, the call for a boycott stands.

    That leaves us with two issues:

    (1) Has the Times provided material aid and comfort to America’s enemies?

    (2) If they have, is an apology (or, failing that, a call for a boycott) in order?

    Comment by
    June 29th, 2006
    at 4:12 pm

    “It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. Pictet, 1803. ME 10:356

    A free press is absolutely necessary. Now, if what passes for journalists these days would start asking the hard questions maybe our secretive government wouldn’t need to be spying on its own citizens and worrying about anyone finding out. Or depending on it’s ‘base’ to defend it’s indefensible actions.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 29th, 2006
    at 5:33 pm

    OK, so you weren’t quite ready to stand Keller up against the wall (that is the penaly for treason), though the implication is that if the law allowed you would be all for it.

    How ’bout points 1 – 4? Or do you concede those?

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 29th, 2006
    at 6:03 pm

    The Times argues that they haven’t done any real harm to national security, and that the information they published was available elsewhere anyway. If that turns out to be true, then I would agree they have not provided material aid and comfort to America’s enemies.

    From MMfA:

    Falsehood: Times article tipped off terrorists to U.S. bank-tracking efforts

    In the wake of the June 23 Times article, Bush administration officials and numerous conservative media figures claimed that the newspaper had informed terrorists that their international transactions were being monitored. Vice President Dick Cheney said that the story “will enable the terrorists to look for ways to defeat our efforts.” Treasury Secretary John W. Snow wrote that the article had “alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.” Meanwhile, right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin claimed that the Times had “tipped off terrorists to America’s efforts to track their financial activities.” Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby alleged that the reports on the program “sabotaged” and “deliberately compromised a crucial counterterrorism tool.” And the editors of National Review warned, “The terrorists will now adapt. They will find new ways of transferring funds, and precious lines of intelligence will be lost.”

    But long before June 23, Bush and other administration officials acknowledged that terrorists were increasingly using other methods of transferring money to evade detection.

    As Media Matters noted, in testimony before Congress in 2004, Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Stuart A. Levey said, “As the formal and informal financial sectors become increasingly inhospitable to financiers of terrorism, we have witnessed an increasing reliance by Al Qaida and terrorist groups on cash couriers. The movement of money via cash couriers is now one of the principal methods that terrorists use to move funds.” In 2002 and 2003, the Congressional Research Service documented terrorists’ increased use of alternative money flows, including “informal value transfer [hawala] systems that leave virtually no paper trail.” Further, various news outlets and independent organizations have noted terrorist organizations’ hesitance to use the international banking system in recent years.

    That terrorist organizations would be aware of international efforts to track their finances is not surprising, as Bush administration officials have publicly touted the government’s capability to do so for years. For instance, shortly after 9-11, Bush heralded the establishment of a “foreign terrorist asset tracking center at the Department of the Treasury to identify and investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks.” On November 7, 2001, then-Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill announced that the United States, along with an “international coalition,” had begun “to block assets, to seize books, records and evidence, and to follow audit trails to track terrorist cells poised to do violence to our common interests.” In a September 10, 2004, statement, the Treasury Department disclosed “some of the many weapons used against terrorist networks,” which included “following money trails to previously unknown terrorist cells.” An April 2006 Treasury Department report similarly noted that the department “follows the terrorists’ money trails aggressively, exploits them for intelligence, and severs links where we can.”

    Even SWIFT’s cooperation in these efforts was a matter of public knowledge. Indeed, a United Nations working group learned years ago of the Treasury Department’s use of SWIFT and noted the tactic in a December 2002 report. The consortium’s own website notes its “history of cooperating in good faith with authorities such as central banks, treasury departments, law enforcement agencies and appropriate international organizations, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in their efforts to combat abuse of the financial system for illegal activities.” The Bush administration has repeatedly touted its role as one of the 29 nations working with the FATF “to deny terrorist access to the world financial system.”

    There are links to all of the original documentation at the MMfA site. So, you concede, right?

    Comment by
    June 29th, 2006
    at 9:43 pm

    This is not about the NYT, it’s a suggestion to stop the Pearls:

    Send a copies of their books, downloads of public speeches, and other literature to your city and state child care boards. Ask those boards to initiate regulations banning the use of their techniques inside private and public facility and home child care centers – AND ask that they specifically use M & D Pearl’s name in full as they lay out the techniques banned. Many of their techniques are already unlawful, however it is highly effective to have such boards make recommendations for or against curriculum, parenting techniques and child psych techniques. A little more publicity will help start a trickle down effect to families.

    As their techniques become even more popular (and they are – my sister got sucked into their program through her church) a generation of parents has been and are being brought up to think these ways are appropriate. When these parents end up in child care centers or church nurseries and implement these techniques, they find they can be unwittingly be called a child abuser. These cases do come before child care boards – and the “abuser” is so clueless as to what is appropriate to do in a public setting when encountering behavior issues in the very young.