Sunday, May 14, 2006

NYT: Cheney, Cheney (only twice) (Lichtblau, Shane & Johnston)

I read Scott Shane and Eric Lichtblau's "Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping" in this morning's New York Times and tell myself I'll just be glad it's in the paper. I won't nitpick by, for instance, bringing up when Shane played film critic on December 22, 2005 and insisted that Enemy of the State "distorted the agency's purpose and capabilities." Still stand by those words, Shane? But . . .

How many press club speeches (and questions and answer sessions) did Michael Hayden give in January? I know of just one and we just utilized the transcript from Democracy Now! for a thing at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Hayden didn't just say "reasonable." He used it and "unreasonable" (and "reasonable"). Of news interest is the fact that he clearly did not understand the Fourth Amendent (he bickered with Jonathan Landay, of Knight Ridder, over it and Landay was correct and Hayden was wrong). This isn't pointed out by people just for cheap laughs. Hayden doesn't grasp the Fourth Amendment. In his job, that's news. In this article, it should be newss because the writers offer that Hayden "often inisted in interviews and public testimony that the N.S.A. always followed laws protecting American's privacy." To insist that, you probably need to be able to comprehend said laws. It is an important detail and one that should have made the paper this morning.

In the same press conference, he stated that:

this isn't a drift net out there where we're soaking up everyone's communications. We're going after very specific communications that our professional judgment tells us we have reason to believe are those associated with people who want to kill Americans . That's what we're doing.

Does he want to rethink that statement? In light of the report by Leslie Cauley (USA Today), he might want to.

So what do we know from this morning's article? We know that Hayden (either solo or with others) was among the ones pushing the paper not to publish the information James Risen had gathered (Risen and Lichtblau wrote the article that finally appeared in the paper last December). We're told Haden "was the one . . . who later tried to dissuade The Times from reporting its existance."

If you haven't read the article and you're thinking, "My goodness, you're focusing on Hayden!"
. . . Well the article does as well. Despite the headline, Cheney's only mentioned by name in two sentences on the front page and inside the paper (A16) he's only mentioned by name in six sentences. We're told that Cheney "helped justify the program with an expansive theory of presidential power" and carries those views back to what he learnt at the knee of Gerald Ford. (Possibly, he should have been over Ford's knee.)

But let's hop back to the opening and we'll quote the first paragrah:

In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser [David S. Addington] argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

Then we're told that training in the laws and guidelines made NSA employees leery about buying into that 'logic' and that "ultimately" this view "prevailed."

We're told that there was some traffic picked up (this is all regarding the Times' original reporting, by the way, elaborating on details, not a new program like what USA Today revealed last week) "inadvertently" during "the early days" and that "one government official" stated his belief that "some of the purely domestic eavesdropping in the program's early phase was intentional." (The article identifies him as "he," by the way.)

Micah e-mailed that he didn't think there was a lot to the story (and that the headline emphasized what the reporting should have: Cheney). I agree. Maybe the paper's worried about Russell Tice's visit to Congress this week and afraid that someone else will scoop them on this story (again!) so they want to dip their toes in the water. And while there's an issue of having sources to confirm (and the Times has many more than it's using -- but then it's not really using the sources that are talking to the paper), this isn't all that new to the writers. It may be new to the readers.

I'd like to hope that this is some indication that they're now going to pursue the story (and again, they have more information currently than they are sharing -- and more than just the usual confirming they require) but I don't know. They better do something because another paper has a scoop that's developing on this topic. Unless they intend to write up reviews of other paper's (while saying "As first reported in The New York Times in December . . ."), they're going to be left with nothing.

Cheney? David Johnston contributes "Notes Are Said to Reveal Close Cheney Interest in a Critic of Iraq Policy." The headline is referring to Joseph Wilson and the article reproduces Cheney's notes written on a print version of the op-ed Wilson wrote for the Times. The notes included this comment: "Or did his wife send him on a junket?" Which Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor on the Plamegate issue, filed with the court on Friday. Johnston writes:

In addition, the notes add to evidence in the case showing that Mr. Cheney and his aides viewed Mr. Wilson's article with deep concern and looked for ways to counter its impact. Previous prosecution filings have said the article was viewed as a direct assault on the administration's policy and provoked efforts to discredit Wilson.

Fitzgerald sees the notes, according to the Times, as demonstrating that Scooter Libby didn't learn about Valerie Plame from reporters but that, instead, Plame was a topic of discussion among vice-presidential chief of staff Scoots and Cheney as well as "several [other] people."

Marcia had a highlight and I'll see if Ava and I can work that in to the TV review (no, we still haven't written it). Isaiah's trying to figure out a title for his latest The World Today Just Nuts and says it will be ready no later than ten a.m. eastern. (All that's missing is the title. It's drawn already and has the balloons with dialogue.) We took a break mid-morning at The Third Estate Sunday Review so people could get some sleep (since many have plans today with it being Mother's Day). A book discussion has already been done. (And typed up from the notes.) The song postponed on Thursday here is used (opening line) in an essay. There are three other pieces. We need an editorial and the TV review. Other than that, it will depend on how much energy we have. It's probably more of a bare bones version and the reason for that is that this is a holiday that many are going to be celebrating so people needed their rest. We have a highlight but before we get to that . . . Maria was holding the Democracy Now! summary (headlines of the week) and that was fine. She said she'd do it and she always does that when she says she will. But if you're wondering why she went with six (it posted this morning), she a) let her classes pick and was saving four spots for Friday's Headlines but the Spanish version never posted. She wondered in an e-mail this morning if she should have just translated them but that would have meant no link to Spanish and since the whole point of her, Miguel and Franciso highlighting the headlines is to drive home that they're available in Spanish and English (text and audio), that would have defeated the purpose. Lastly, Kat forgot about her review. It was written. She'd read it to me and she'd put it in a draft here and asked me to read it. (Which I did.) But she forgot about it until we were doing the book discussion (she notes that in the discussion and leaves to go post it). So if you missed it, it went up late last night or early this morning but you can read it by clicking here.

Highlight is Medea Benjamin's "The Gift of Peace for Mother's Day" (Common Dreams):

It's true. Mothers Day was NOT invented by Hallmark. Or by 1-800-FLOWERS or even Sees Candies. In fact, Julia Ward Howe, the woman credited with initiating Mothers Day in 1870, would have been appalled by its crass commercialism. Were she alive today, Julia probably would have told her kids to dispense with the roses and chocolates, and instead join her in an anti-war rally. Yes, Julia Ward Howe was a peacenik.
While best known for writing the Battle Hymn of the Republic and her stance against slavery, Julia was horrified by the carnage and suffering during the Civil War and the economic devastation that followed. She was also heart-broken by the outbreak of war between France and Germany in 1870, with its ominous display of German military might and imperial designs. She used her poetic gift to pen a proclamation against war, a proclamation that birthed Mothers Day.
"Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause," Julia wrote. "Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. " Her solution? Women should gather together to "promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."
This year on
Mothers Day weekend, May 13-14, CODEPINK: Women for Peace is organizing a gathering in Washington DC in the spirit of Julia's original proclamation. Recognizing that our nation and our world is in crisis and that we, the women, must intervene, we will be gathering for a 24-hour vigil in front of the White House.

That's ongoing and Cindy Sheehan spoke from that event to Laura Flanders last night on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (guests for Sunday's show include Dave Zirin and Margot Kidder). The e-mail address for this site is