Sunday, January 30, 2005

Douglas Jehl's "C.I.A. Said to Rebuff Congress on Nazi Files" belongs on the front page of this morning's New York Times

Having suffered through the "reporting" of Robert Andrew Powell, a reader might be left with the impression that it wasn't real reporting but there were no other strong stories in the main section that were worthy of the front page.
Here's one the paper should have front paged: "C.I.A. Said to Rebuff Congress on Nazi Files" by Douglas Jehl.
I want to point out that the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was sixty years ago, January 27, 1945. And on Thursday the paper ran a lengthy article by Craig S. Smith ("World Leaders Gather For Auschwitz Ceremony") on A3. On Friday, another lengthy article by Craig Smith ("Liberators and Survivors Recall the Auschwitz That Was") ran on A6.
The topic is news. And when the topic revolves around current efforts by the CIA to refuse to hand over "hundreds of thousands of pages of documents sought by a government working group under a 1998 law that requires full disclosure of classified records related to Nazi war crimanls . . ." then it becomes front page news.
Forget the timing, although that matters and makes it even more relevant. (Unless a 60th anniversary means we note something for a day and then quickly move on.) This is a news story. It belongs on the front page.

From the article:

These officials say the agency has sometimes agreed to provide information about former Nazis, but not about the extent of the agency's dealings with them after World War II. In other cases, it has refused to provide information about individuals and their conduct during the war unless the working group can first provide evidence that they were complicit in war crimes.
. . .
The dispute has not previously been made public. Critics of the C.I.A.'s stance, including all three private citizens who are members of the working group, said they were disclosing the dispute now in hopes of resolving the impasse by March, when the working group's mandate is to expire.

March? This needs to be accomplished by March. We're two days away from February (check my math). Again, that goes to the timeliness factor of this story.

Hearings will be held shortly by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jehl notes. That makes it news. And that makes it important that the Times front page this story so that we're all aware of what's going on.

There might have been a story in the type of people involved in the people using the Super Bowl for proselytizing, but Powell couldn't find it (or didn't want to). There is a story in this and Jehl has captured that story quite well. The Times should have front paged this story to ensure that it got the attention it needs. Instead they run it on A6.

One more excerpt from the article (if you have the time, please read the article):

A book, "U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis," that was released by the working group in May provided a partial picture of those dealings. It has shown that the American government worked closely with Nazi war criminals and collaborators, allowing many of them to live in the United States after World War II.
Historians who have studied the documents made public so far have said that at least five associates of the Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, the architect of Hitler's campaign to exterminate Jews, had worked for the C.I.A. Eichmann, who was arrested by the Allies in 1945, escaped and fled to Argentina. He was captured by Israeli agents in 1960, tried and hanged. The records also indicate that the C.I.A. tried to recruit two dozen more war criminals or Nazi collaborators.
American officials have defended the recruiting of former Nazis as having been essential to gaining access to intelligence after World War II, particularly about the Soviet Union and its cold war allies. Among former Nazis who were given refuge in the United States was Wernher von Braun, the German scientist who developed the V-2 rocket in World War II for the Nazis and played a major role in the development of the American space program.

Fluff (or p.r. hackery) to appease "readers" from the so-called "values" crowd isn't likely to change anyone's mind about the New York Times. The Bully Boy has won (enslaved?) their hearts and minds and they're all reading off the same script now. Sacrificing real journalism to do public relations for a group that is, at best, questionable embarrasses not only Powell but the paper itself.

I'm thinking right now about the attacks from the Bully Boy and co-horts on the paper (on all papers, but especially on the Times) and I wonder if the Elite Fluff Patrol, during their Thursdays With Bully Boy, bothered to take a moment to clarify that he completely misrepresented a former reporter (she's dead now) last fall? Remember that?

The only one I remember defending the woman in the Times was Maureen Dowd. The paper itself didn't feel the need to defend a woman who couldn't defend herself or to even defend the paper. They could have printed her column. Elite Fluff Patrol squadron leader Elisabeth Bumiller could have done one of her "White House Letters" focusing on the column the Bully Boy misrepresented.

I've spent an hour and half searching for the woman's name. The first hour was online trying to track it down. (It didn't help that I wrongly remembered the slur occuring during one of the debates. It actually happened during the GOP convention.) I'd wanted to address Juan Forero (Francisco voted him "the littlest Judy Miller" in our year-in-review) "reporting" on Venezeula but I probably won't now. However, after abandoning the online search, I finally went to my clippings file.

Here's Bush slurring a dead woman who reported for the New York Times:

In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to Allied forces, a journalist in The New York Times wrote this: "Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. European capitals are frightened. In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed." End quote. Maybe that same person's still around, writing editorials.

Here's Dowd (the only one I remembering defening the woman):

She isn't. Anne O'Hare McCormick, who died in 1954, was TheTimes's pioneering foreign affairs correspondent who covered the real Axis of Evil, interviewing Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Patton. She was hardly a left-wing radical or defeatist. In 1937, she became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, and she was the first woman to be a member of The Times's editorial board. The president distorted the columnist's dispatch.
The "moral crisis" and failure she described were in the British and French sectors. She reported that the Americans were doing better because of their policy to "encourage initiative and develop self-government." She wanted the U.S. to commit more troops and stay the course - not cut and run.
Mr. Bush Swift-boated her.

The column's entitled "Amnesia in the Garden" (by Dowd) and it ran in the New York Times on September 5, 2004.

The Elite Fluff Patrol, minus one, did address the error in the usual way that we've come to expect from pieces bearing Elisabeth Bumiller's byline (David E. Sanger was her wingman on this mission) in "Comparing the President's Acceptance Speech and History." Only Dowd made an issue of it and bothered to defend a dead woman who was very much a part of the Times' history.

Here's an entry you can read on O'Hare McCormick (without paying for access) and here's another entry you can read for free. There is also a scholarship in her name (to which Newsday and the New York Times have generously donated).

Here's a quote that pops up frequently online from Anne O'Hare McCormick: "Today the real test of power is not the capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it." (Sadly, I'm not finding an attribution for it. If anyone knows where it was said or written originally, please e-mail the site at