***update: Lichtblau is backpedaling too.***
NY Times ombudsman Byron Calame’s belated defense of the Times’ exposé of the monitoring of the SWIFT banking program contains a fascinating passage:
There was a significant question as to how secret the [monitoring of the SWIFT banking program] was after five years.”Hundreds, if not thousands, of people know about this,” [executive editor Bill] Keller said he was told by an official who talked to him on condition of anonymity.
Thousands of people may have known about the program before the Times blabbed about it? If a Times editor says so, it must be true!
Keller’s claim goes a good bit further than the claim by Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey that terrorists already assumed their financial transactions were being monitored.
Calame neglects to note, of course, that Keller’s claim contradicts both the tone and facts presented in the Times’ initial coverage by reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen. Lichtblau and Rosen, you will recall, stated unequivocally that “the [monitoring of the Swift] banking program is a closely held secret…”
Yesterday’s observations by See-Dubya in response to the Clarke-Cressey op-ed are even more apt today in light of Keller’s comment. An excerpt:
The New York Times can’t have its cake and eat it, too. Will Keller, Times, and Lichtblau continue to insist that the program was both effective and secret, and the story was a major Pulitzer-worthy scoop? Or will they continue backpedaling?
If they want to try to weasel out of this, let’s see it right there on the corrections page: “Importance and Secrecy of SWIFT Monitoring Program Greatly Exaggerated”. We might not believe them, but if they want to back away from the story, they should go all out.
Patterico has noticed a shift in tone at the LA Times as well.
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