Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NYT: Bell-South says, "No, we didn't!" and the Times runs with it

BellSouth said yesterday that it had not shared customer calling records with the National Security Agency, denying a report last week that it was among three major telephone companies to have done so.

The above is the opening paragraph of Ken Belson's "BellSouth Denies It Handed Over Telephone Records to the N.S.A." in this morning's New York Times. And guess what? The eight page article never goes any deeper. The paper runs with it and calls a press release "news" without consulting their own sources (and they have sources, more than enough that they should have had the scoop USA Today did last week). That passes for the paper's "coverage" of the issue of the governmental spying -- not a word about ABC's news yesterday.
For news on that, we'll go to Jordan's highlight, Dave Lindorff's "Here's Why You Should Be Concerned About Warrantless Wiretaps..." (This Can't Be Happening):

The mainstream media keep finding and quoting people who say they don't care if the government taps their phones or monitors their calling records, because they "don't have anything to hide." Polls are dutifully trotted out showing that half the public supposedly supports NSA spying even on Americans, which they perceive as being aimed at catching "terrorists."
Besides the fact that this mentality shows little appreciation for the blood that was shed over the years to establish the freedoms of speech and assembly and privacy that we are supposedly so proud of, there is evidence that the Bush Administration and its spook minions are using this whole warrantless NSA spying campaign not to try to catch "terrorists," but to keep us, the American people, from knowing what the government is up to.
The latest evidence of this darker reality comes from veteran ABC journalist Brian Ross, who reports on
ABC's website that he and a colleague, Richard Esposito, were warned by a government intelligence source that their phones are being monitored by the government in an effort to ferret out their government sources.
"It's time for you to get some new cell phones quick," the source told the two, Ross reports.
Ross goes on to say that sources have told him and Esposito (in person, not on the phone), that the government is investigating the calling records of reporters at ABC, the New York Times and the Washington Post, all in an effort to ferret out whistleblowers and unidentified sources of stories critical of the government or of Bush policies.
So now, we can state clearly that this administration, which has gone to such lengths over the last five years to try to control the public agenda by limiting reporters' access to information, by paying for fake "news", by currying favor with such broadcast outlets as Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, and by bullying editors and publishers, has gone the next step into flat-out intimidation and spying.

For more on that, Ned steers us to John Nichols' "FBI Said to Seek Phone Records of News Reporters" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

According to ABC News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been quietly going after the phone records of news reporters as part of its investigations of leaks of information of government employees.
An entry posted Monday evening on "The Blotter," an ABC News blog, by investigative reporters Brian Ross and Richard Esposito, reports that, "The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters' phone records in leak investigations. 'It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,' said a senior federal official."
The report by Ross and Esposito, respected journalists with solid sources in the law enforcement community, continued:

FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of leaks at the CIA.
In a statement, the FBI press office said its leak investigations begin with the examination of government phone records.
"The FBI will take logical investigative steps to determine if a criminal act was committed by a government employee by the unauthorized release of classified information," the statement said.
Officials say that means that phone records of reporters will be sought if government records are not sufficient.

But the New York Times is much happier running with a press release from a company. (They also allow Elisabeth Bumiller to play psychic in a "news analysis" this morning.)

Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Pelosi Capitulates on Impeachment" (This Just In, The Progressive):

For all you partisan Democrats, obsessed with tactics, who say we should hold off on talk of impeachment until after November, try this one on for size: Nancy Pelosi is against it, even if the Democrats win the House.
On May 10, Pelosi spoke to the Democratic caucus and "dismissed the idea" of impeachment and "restated her opposition to the idea of censuring Bush over his decision to invade Iraq in March 2003," according to an article in the
San Francisco Chronicle. It reported that "she said impeachment wouldn’t be on the table."
This amplified her comment's on "Meet the Press" May 7, when Tim Russert tried to corner her on the subject. (Russert even urged her to have John Conyers take down his website, where he calls for the creation of a select committee to investigate the "grounds for possible impeachment and the censure of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.")
Russert asked her point-blank whether impeachment was off the table.
She fudged at first and then said, "I don't see us going to a place of impeachment. . . . That is not what we are about."
But evidently she didn't think that was clear enough so she told the Democrats in the House that impeachment isn't in the cards.
(For an account of how Pelosi should have responded, go to
Bob Fertik's blog.)

What to say? We could talk about how she dances around the meaning of "permanent" when it comes to bases in Iraq? But what this really makes me think of (Lloyd asked) is LBJ. I'm not an LBJ freak (or a worshipper of any president). But a friend and I were talking yesterday about how cowardly the Democratic Party is (on abortion, on every issue). If the cowards had their way, there would have been no attempt at LBJ's Great Society. "Oh, we're going to lose southern voters to the Republicans, LBJ! We'll be dead for years! So you can't do this!" And if all that mattered was what was electable, LBJ would have said, "Sure, forget the civil rights legislation, forget everything." (Reality is that people fought for these advancements. LBJ and other politicians were responding to demands. But, as we can see with the Bully Boy, the people can be ignored.)

Political science isn't a hard science. There are some who dispute it's a science at all. But all the psychics with their advice forget that talk without substance is just spin. So talk of change if the Democrats grab a house in Congress (or both) is just spin if they can't do a damn thing. They won't come out in favor of bringing the troops home, they won't talk of impeachment.

If you've got nothing to offer, you've got nothing to offer. You can dress it up in any words you want, simple or high minded, but if you don't stand for something, you have nothing to offer.
Adam Nagourney had an article Sunday in the New York Times' Week in Review which noted that some 'experts' in the party were saying that not getting control of either house of Congress could be beneficial to the Democratic Party.

It's that same sort of 'logic.' The argument (this wasn't Nagourney's, he was reporting on it) was basically no control for the Dems would mean the GOP would be left holding the bag on everything that's going to hell and, therefore, the blame.

Okay, let's explore that 'logic.' By that logic, since 2008 will require massive cleanup, the Dems shouldn't try to win then either. In fact, let's just sit out the next ten or twelve election cycles to be sure that Republicans get the blame they've earned.

That's nonsense. That's attempting to predict future events (that no one knows -- unless they're claiming to be clairvoyant). I'm not saying Bully Boy's programs will work or kick in (they won't) but I am saying in 2006, you have no idea what event will capture the imagination of America in 2007.

In the meantime, people are dying in Iraq and it's really craven to sit there and try to second-guess how much better it is for the Democratic Party if they do nothing. It's craven to see the Constitution trashed daily by this adminstration and hear Nancy Pelosi say no to impeachment. Apparently she didn't take her oath to uphold and defend the Constitution very seriously. She does take the conventional wisdom spouted by the Psychic Network -- Gas Bag Division seriously.

On impeachment, John Dean is interviewed by Matthew Rothschild on the latest Progressive Radio (click here to listen online). Also on the subject of impeachment, Barbara Olshansky (co-author with David Lindorff of The Case for Impeachment) will be on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning (if you miss it, remember you can grab an archived broadcast later in the day).

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