The Spectacle Blog

Keller Caught Lying

By on 6.26.06 | 7:40PM

Hugh Hewitt has the letter Treasury Secretary John Snow has sent to NY Times editor Bill Keller. What is clear is that Keller was simply lying about the amount of contact the NY Times had with Treasury, White House, Congressional and intelligence sources.

Built on top the devastating letter is that one of the reporters on the story is also caught out in a lie.

That reporter is Eric Lichtblau, an individual, according to knowledgable Department of Justice sources, who in 2004 had his credentials from the Department pulled briefly due to his refusal to fairly report stories involving the Department. Only after senior Times officials stepped in did Lichtblau receive a reprieve.

In an interview with Editor and Publisher, Lichtblau says of the Bush Administration's efforts to have the Times hold the finance-tracking story were similar to objections to the terrorist call monitoring program that Lichtblau helped leak earlier this year:

"They were similar in terms of the objections raised not to publish," Lichtblau told E&P today. "That the bad guys knew we were listening to them, but they don't know exactly how." But he said the objections "did not rise to as high a level as last time."

But Lichtblau stressed that the paper gave as much consideration to the White House concerns on the banking story as on the wiretapping report, actually spending several weeks in discussions about the Bush Administration objections.

"I don't think we could reasonably be accused of moving too quickly," he said. "We waited so long that the competition caught up to us." This comment referred to the Los Angeles Times' posting a story about the bank records program on its Web site last night. That paper said it had also been asked by the administration to hold off.

Lichtblau said that in the case of the previous Pulitzer-winning story, which detailed a National Security Agency (NSA) program of wiretapping, President Bush himself had gotten involved. The president was not been directly part of the effort to halt publication of today's story. "It was done at the cabinet level this time around," Lichtblau said.

So let's get this straight: a newspaper will base its reporting decisions on just who complains. If the President complains? Maybe they will hold the story. But if the Treasury Secretary, deputy secretary, several Senators and Congressmen, 9/11 commissioners, and intelligence officers all ask for a publication to hold the story, it's a nonstarter? Absurd.

We're hearing that Administration officials offered the NY Times opportunities for other stories if they were willing to "take one for the team" (meaning America), and they declined. What newspaper worth its salt bypasses the chance at more exclusives in order to put the public in danger and undercut America's counter-terrorism efforts? A newspaper that cares little for the values America stands for, and would prefer to see the other side win.

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