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December 21, 2005
Undermining The War Effort

My new Daily Standard column, "Fit to Print?", focuses on the New York Times' supposed scoop that the NSA intercepts foreign communications, blowing a top-secret program that formed a vital part of American defense against terrorist attacks. They followed it up with yet another "scoop" that the FBI investigates domestic terrorism. Unless the Gray Lady plans another "scoop" about how the Highway Patrol conducts warrantless searches when it conducts field-sobriety checkpoints, I'd say it has run out of material for its anti-Bush smears at the moment.

Why did the Times decide to run with this story, after sitting on it for a year? The Times editors must be asking themselves that question after seeing legal experts shred their arguments about domestic spying, but also by the reaction from the President himself:

... With the Patriot Act up for renewal, the current headlines finally provided a political context that would make the story a blockbuster--not because it describes illegal activity, but because it plays into fears about the rise of Orwellian Big Brother government from the Bush administration. The second impetus to publish came from the upcoming release of James Risen's book, State of War, due to be released in less than a month.

It had to dismay the editors at the Times, then, when an angry President Bush came out the next day, the day after that, and the day after that to take personal responsibility for the NSA effort. Bush called the Risen/Lichtblau bluff. Had there been any scandal, the president would hardly have run in front of a camera to admit to ordering the program. He changed the course of the debate and now has the Times and his other critics backpedaling.

The Times wants to engage in a media coup of the twice-elected administration, especially galled by the fact that all of these same tired arguments came up during the election but failed to give Kerry the win. They're trying their best to undo the election using the same tactics that lost it, a futile and embarrassing effort that makes the manufactured outrage over Augusta a Pulitzer moment in comparison.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 21, 2005 7:15 AM

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