View Full Version : Bush Pleaded With New York Times Publisher Not To Run NSA Story

12-20-2005, 10:20 AM
Bush’s Snoopgate
The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times’ eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper’s editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security.


By Jonathan Alter
Updated: 6:17 p.m. ET Dec. 19, 2005

Dec. 19, 2005 - Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president’s desperation.

The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. His comparison to the damaging pre-9/11 revelation of Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone, which caused bin Laden to change tactics, is fallacious; any Americans with ties to Muslim extremists—in fact, all American Muslims, period—have long since suspected that the U.S. government might be listening in to their conversations. Bush claimed that “the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy.” But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that this is so. And rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

What is especially perplexing about this story is that the 1978 law set up a special court to approve eavesdropping in hours, even minutes, if necessary. In fact, the law allows the government to eavesdrop on its own, then retroactively justify it to the court, essentially obtaining a warrant after the fact. Since 1979, the FISA court has approved tens of thousands of eavesdropping requests and rejected only four. There was no indication the existing system was slow—as the president seemed to claim in his press conference—or in any way required extra-constitutional action.

This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

In the meantime, it is unlikely that Bush will echo President Kennedy in 1961. After JFK managed to tone down a New York Times story by Tad Szulc on the Bay of Pigs invasion, he confided to Times editor Turner Catledge that he wished the paper had printed the whole story because it might have spared him such a stunning defeat in Cuba.

This time, the president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency. It was for that reason—and less out of genuine concern about national security—that George W. Bush tried so hard to kill the New York Times story.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

12-20-2005, 11:33 AM
I have a dumb question. Could the reason that Bush wanted to bypass FISA be because he wanted to monitor people he wouldn't normally be allowed to? It's certainly not because FISA doesn't allow retroactive wiretaps (meaning FISA allows you to wiretap someone, and then notify a judge in the case of an emergency). It's certainly not because FISA, more often than not, turns down FISA requests (they've turned down 4 out of 10,000 since its' inception). So then why the need to bypass it?

911=inside job
12-20-2005, 11:50 AM
of course gold... there is no other reason why they would do this...

12-20-2005, 11:53 AM
So to me, this shows even more complicity in regards to 9/11. Attack us, and then do everything within your power to cover your ass. Having the ability to listen to your enemies, (us), is invaluable.

12-20-2005, 11:56 AM
After all, "Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator".

12-20-2005, 12:44 PM
The Truman precedent for Bush's eavesdropping


By Peter S. Canellos, Globe Columnist | December 20, 2005

WASHINGTON -- On the morning of April 9, 1952, American flags flew above 88 steel mills across the country, signaling a change in management. The president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, had seized control of the mills, claiming that the intransigence of the private owners would lead to a strike that would cripple US efforts to win the Korean War.

''The president has the power to keep the country from going to hell," Truman told his staff, according to David McCullough's 1992 biography.

Truman was wrong, according to the Supreme Court, in its most extensively reasoned decision charting the limits of presidential power.

The so-called ''steel seizure case" is suddenly in the news again because President Bush is now saying that his powers as president and commander-in-chief -- the justifications cited by Truman -- permit him to authorize wiretaps on US citizens.
Luckily for Bush, Americans who are being wiretapped don't know they're being bugged, and thus can't challenge his powers in court. But when Congress holds hearings on whether the president has exceeded his powers, the Supreme Court's ruling in the steel seizure case will be the closest thing to settled law on the matter.