Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NYT: "Justices Reject F.B.I. Translator's Appeal on Termination" (Linda Greenhouse)

The appeals court ordered the courtroom closed even though the government informed the judges the previous week that it was "prepared to argue this case publicly, in an open courtroom." A transcript of the argument was released later.
Ms. Edmonds, who was hired by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, translated material in Turkish, Persian and Azerbaijani. After a few months on the job, she complained repeatedly that important terrorism-related intelligence was being inadequately translated and raised accusations of espionage against a fellow linguist.
Earlier this year, a report by the Justice Department's inspector general found that evidence supported many of Ms. Edmonds's accusations, that the bureau failed to take them seriously enough and that her accusations were "the most significant factor in the F.B.I.'s decision to terminate her services" in 2002. The report reached no conclusion on whether espionage had taken place.

The above is from Linda Greenhouse's "Justices Reject F.B.I. Translator's Appeal on Termination" in this morning's New York Times. The article notes that the Times was among those filing "'friend of the court' briefs" which will surprise some since the paper hasn't been interested in reporting on Edmonds case. (60 Minutes, a weekly, one-hour program, has done a better job covering the case than the daily paper). Apparently, years from now, when the details the public should know (currently cloaked with the "state secrets" argument), the paper expects to puff out its chest and say, "We filed briefs!" Yes, but they refused to seriously investigate the case. Tell your grandchildren this was one more time the Times took a pass on journalism to appease "official sources."

On a topic the Times isn't covering currently, Bob Woodward, we have a number of e-mails.

Brad e-mails to note Woody's name popping up on Meet the Press, "Broder, Others on 'Meet the Press' Wonder About Woodward" (Editor & Publisher):

TIM RUSSERT: Let me turn to the CIA leak investigation. Time magazine reports that Viveca Novak of Time magazine has now been subpoenaed to testify. David Broder, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, as you know, has testified before Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel. What's going on at The Post, in light of that?
MR. BRODER: Consternation, to be honest with you. I think none of us can really understand Bob's silence for two years about his own role in the case. He's explained it by saying he did not want to become involved and did not want to face a subpoena, but he left his editor, our editor, blindsided for two years and he went out and talked disparagingly about the significance of the investigation without disclosing his role in it. Those are hard things to reconcile.
MR. RUSSERT: Gene Robinson?
MR. ROBINSON: I agree with David. Consternation, a certain amount of embarrassment. And, you know, the fact that we can't understand why Bob did what he did. You know, I think that's a very interesting question in this whole incident about confidential sources, about access, about the tradeoffs that we all make for access in granting anonymity for sources. And, you know, I think that's going to continue. I think people are looking at us skeptically.

Lynda notes Arianna Huffington's "Russert Watch: 'I'm No Bob Woodward'" (The Huffington Post) on the same topic:

So it was refreshing and encouraging that even two of his colleagues were honest enough to acknowledge the Woodward problem. It was a great opportunity for Tim to look at the broken conventions regarding confidential sources and the broken trust between the public and the press.
But instead, Tim went right back to the old playbook and the old problem: "Every source I believe is going to want complete assurance that if I give you this information, will you refuse to testify even if it means going to prison." Stunning though it may seem, Russert really believes that the main problem raised by Judy Miller's and Bob Woodward's roles in Plamegate is: how does the press repair the damage done between journalists and anonymous sources?
Talk about missing the forest for the trees. But it's not surprising since Russert's, like Woodward's, first loyalty flows upward to the unnamed "senior administration sources." Which is why Russert immediately pivoted to the question of how the press can go back to guaranteeing anonymity rather than to the new critical question: under what conditions should the press guarantee anonymity?
Marty Kaplan had a
must-read blog on the subject on HuffPost last week, aptly titled "A Piss is not a Leak" [. . .]

Joan notes that also weighing in on the Meet the Press comments is Norman Solomon with "The Woodward Scandal Must Not Blow Over" (CounterPunch):

The Woodward saga is a story of a reporter who, as half of the Post duo that broke open Watergate, challenged powerful insiders -- and then, as years went by, became one of them. He used confidential sources to expose wrongdoing at the top levels of the U.S. government -- and then, gradually, became cozy with high-placed sources who effectively used him.
Now, Woodward is scrambling to explain why, for more than two years, he didn't disclose that a government official told him the wife of Bush war-policy critic Joe Wilson was undercover CIA employee Valerie Plame. Even after the Plame leaks turned into a big scandal rocking the Bush administration, Woodward failed to tell any Post editor about his own involvement -- though he may have been the first journalist to receive one of those leaks. And, in media appearances, he disparaged the investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald without so much as hinting at his own stake in disparaging it.

Solomon also offers this on Woody's most recent appearance on Larry King:

During the long interview, Woodward gave various explanations for his careful silence that misled Post editors and the public. He did not want to get dragged into the Plame-leak investigation with a subpoena, and anyway he was preoccupied with gathering information that would be revealed later in a book.
Overall, Bob Woodward's priorities seemed to center on Bob Woodward. Yet near the end of the interview, he offered this platitude with a straight face and without a hint of self-reproach: "I think the biggest mistake you can make in this sort of situation as a reporter is to worry about yourself."

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