Sunday, January 15, 2006

Damnit Johnson! That Blogging Pajama Man has just fact-checked our a#$!!! (Again)

Once again, we are treated to the New York Times' "principled opposition" to eavesdropping by the government for national security purposes--assuming that the perpetrator is George W. Bush. But when Clinton's the president? Well, it's just fine and dandy that the government is eavesdropping, because, well, Clinton's motives were pure (and he is a Democrat). And even if his motives weren't pure, well, he's our guy so back off.
Tellingly, the existence of the program was confirmed not by the New York Times or the Washington Post or by any other American media outlet – these were the Clinton years, after all, and the American media generally treats Democrat administrations far more gently than Republican administrations – but by an Australian government official in a statement made to an Australian television news show.

The Times actually defended the existence of Echelon when it reported on the program following the Australians’ revelations.

“Few dispute the necessity of a system like Echelon to apprehend foreign spies, drug traffickers and terrorists….”

And the Times article quoted an N.S.A. official in assuring readers

“...that all Agency activities are conducted in accordance with the highest constitutional, legal and ethical standards.”

Of course, that was on May 27, 1999 and Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush, was president.


Even as the Times defended Echelon as “a necessity” in 1999, evidence already existed that electronic surveillance had previously been misused by the Clinton Administration for political purposes. Intelligence officials told Insight Magazine in 1997 that a 1993 conference of Asian and Pacific world leaders hosted by Clinton in Seattle had been spied on by U.S. intelligence agencies. Further, the magazine reported that information obtained by the spying had been passed on to big Democrat corporate donors to use against their competitors. The Insight story added that the mis-use of the surveillance for political reasons caused the intelligence sources to reveal the operation.

“The only reason it has come to light is because of concerns raised by high-level sources within federal law-enforcement and intelligence circles that the operation was compromised by politicians—includingmid- and senior-level White House aides—either on behalf of or in support of President Clinton and major donor-friends who helped him and the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, raise money.”

So, during the Clinton Administration, evidence existed (all of the information used in this article was available at the time) that:

-an invasive, extensive domestic eavesdropping program was aimed at every U.S. citizen;

-intelligence agencies were using allies to circumvent constitutional restrictions;

-and the administration was selling at least some secret intelligence for political donations.

These revelations were met by the New York Times and others in the mainstream media by the sound of one hand clapping. Now, reports that the Bush Administration approved electronic eavesdropping, strictly limited to international communications, of a relative handful of suspected terrorists have created a media frenzy in the Times and elsewhere.
Newspaper of record, indeed.