Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NYT to Condi: We've "Kept Some of Your Secrets"

Earlier this week Condi Rice met with the editorial board of the New York Times and since it was an on-the-record chat, the State Department has made a transcript of the talk available for the public to read on the web.

I found the most compelling part of her chat to be when an unidentified person from the Times said the paper has not divulged some of her secrets, which seems a rather odd thing to admit to a high-ranking government official.

Of course, I would like the Times to eventually print some of those secrets, and the sooner the better, if the paper is ever going to make the secrets public.

Revealing the secrets may do much to affect change not just in the Middle East, but indeed, for America's entire approach right now to foreign politics.

From the State Department:

Interview With the New York Times Editorial Board
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York City
September 25, 2006


QUESTION: Hamdan is one reason you’re having this debate now, which – it sort of provides a healthy conversation. The other reason you’re having it is because a bunch of newspapers have laid some of these things out for – public discussion, the eavesdropping, the CIA detentions and so on.

At the risk of being too self-referential, I’m curious to know whether you genuinely think that those stories have, in any significant way, weakened the Administration’s ability to fight the war on terror.

SECRETARY RICE: I think that it has made other countries and, in some cases, other entities which have dealt with us, wonder about our reliability in keeping information confidential. I do. You know, it’s fine to say we ought to have an open debate about these things. You know, there are things that you keep confidential at the New York Times. There are.

QUESTION: There are?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, I would hope so. I would --

QUESTION: We try. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: I would assume – no, I assume so.

QUESTION: What are they? Our ability to keep a secret is considerably --

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, but I assume in your board rooms that there are things that you keep confidential, right?

QUESTION: I don’t get to go to the board room.

SECRETARY RICE: I assume that there are – there is information that corporations keep confidential; it’s in their boardrooms. But somehow, when it’s the United States Government that is dealing with life and death, war and peace matters, allies who are putting their lives on the line, allies who have different political structures than we do and different obligations than we do, we’re not supposed to keep anything confidential. And so I --

QUESTION: Well, that’s taking it to extremes.


QUESTION: And we – this paper has kept some of your secrets for you, too.

SECRETARY RICE: I understand that and I appreciate that. But I think that when it comes to – you know, I’m speaking to the leaks problem. I know this is a major, major issue in the journalistic community. But I can tell you from the point of view of somebody who has to (inaudible) security (inaudible), it’s a problem.

I can’t tell you how many times people will say to me, my counterparts or, you know, other counterparts, "Well, you know, I really don’t know if we should have this conversation because I don’t know when it’s going to be exposed." That’s a problem. So you asked me if it was a problem and yeah, it’s a problem.

QUESTION: But I asked you if it has tangibly diminished your ability to fight the war on terror.

SECRETARY RICE: I think it has tangibly made it harder to have full-scale cooperation and I think the jury is still not out about how willing others will be to cooperate with us on sensitive and difficult issues. I do think that the jury’s still out on that and in some cases, I think it’s made it more difficult.


You can read the full transcript by clicking here.


Anonymous said...

The Times should be revealing State Department secrets and not keeping them for Ms. Rice.

Anonymous said...

Fuck Condi, lets rename the the oil tanker named after her "Ponokio".

Anonymous said...

you guys need to look at this piece;

This Sunday the New York Times' Bill Keller got dressed down on the paper's letters page, with scores of readers taking the executive editor to task for being evasive in his previous explanation regarding why--and for how long--the Times held back publishing its December 2005, Pulitzer Prize-winning scoop about the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program under president Bush. A program recently deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge. At the time of publication in 2005 readers were told the story, which the White House pleaded the Times not to publish, had been delayed for "a year." But last week Times public editor, Byron Calame, confirmed the story had been held for 14 months, which, as many had suspected, meant the Times could have published the scoop during the height of the 2004 presidential campaign.

When Calame asked Keller why the paper had reported (vaguely and inaccurately) that the story had been held "a year", Keller conceded, "It was probably inelegant wording." Adding, "I don't know what was in my head at the time." When Calame pressed Keller whether the inelegant wording ("a year") and the sensitivity of the election-day timing issue had been discussed internally, Keller responded improbably, "I don't remember."

That was too much for some Times readers.

"It is depressing to think that the executive editor of The Times would even be able to speak this way," wrote Holly Ketron from Princeton, N.J., just one of many who lectured Keller in print about the proper role of journalists in a democracy.

Depressing, indeed. But even more depressing is the fact the eavesdropping story was just one of several legitimate news stories during the closing weeks of the 2004 campaign that were ignored by mainstream press outlets; stories that would have clearly hurt the Bush campaign. Stories such as the on-going Valerie Plame leak investigation, the tale of Saddam Hussein's hunt for yellowcake uranium, the looming military battle for Fallujah inside Iraq, and Bush's mysterious bulge spotted during the televised debates. I detail the media's disturbing, look-the-other-way approach from 2004 in Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush.

• Time and Valeria Plame

In 2004 Time magazine's Matthew Cooper got caught up in the special prosecutor's CIA leak investigation. Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury subpoenaed Cooper to find out who leaked the Plame identity to him. He and Time initially refused to cooperate. Eventually Cooper agreed to testify during the summer of 2005 after receiving a waiver from his source Karl Rove assuring him it was okay to disclose their confidential conversation. Of course, Cooper could have asked for that same waiver in 2004 which would have quickened the pace of the investigation significantly. But Cooper did not, according to a Los Angeles Times report, because "Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year."

• NBC and Fallujah

On Nov. 4, two days after the nationwide presidential vote, NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw reported, "In Iraq, the American forces have been poised to make a major assault on Fallujah. We all anticipate that could happen at any moment." He asked Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, "What about other strategic and tactical changes in Iraq now that the election is over?" (Emphasis added.) Said Miklaszewski, "U.S. military officials have said for some time that they were putting off any kind of major offensive operation in [Fallujah] until after the U.S. elections, for obvious political reasons."

So according to NBC, military planners had been telling reporters "for some time" that, in what appeared to be a blatant attempt to boost Bush's domestic fortunes, the bloody offensive to try to retake Fallujah was going to be postponed "for obvious political reason" until after the U.S. Election Day. The problem was that prior to Nov. 2, nobody at NBC--not Brokaw, not Miklaszewski--actually reported that fact to viewers as they pondered their presidential pick. (The go-slow approach to Fallujah proved to be a wise public relations move for Republicans since November 2004 became the single deadliest month for U.S. servicemen and women serving in Iraq; 137 died.)

•CBS and Saddam's hunt for yellowcake uranium

Inn the wake of the embarrassing 2004 Memogate scandal, the network announced a 30-minute report by veteran correspondent Ed Bradley examining the administration's faulty claims about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities was being pushed back until after the election. CBS News president Andrew Hayward, under fire from conservative critics for the network's allegedly liberal ways, announced it would have been "inappropriate to broadcast the WMD report so close to the presidential election." [Emphasis added.] The election was six weeks away at the time of the unusual announcement.

•The New York Times and the Bush Bulge

The story was hatched when some careful viewers went back and watched the first presidential debate again and noticed, with the aid of a video freeze frame, the outlines of a bulge protruding out of the back of Bush's suit jacket, between his shoulder blades. Suspicious observers noted Bush's debate advance team had insisted that no cameras be positioned behind Bush or Kerry during the debate. But Fox News ignored the request and one of its cameras caught an image of Bush as he stood at the debate lectern, capturing the clear bulge under his jacket.

When Bush aides were pressed for a serious response to the bulge question (the TV image did not lie, a shadowy bulge was obvious), aides alternatively insisted the controversial image had been "doctored," then that it was merely a "badly tailored suit," a "poorly tailored shirt", and the presidential tailor responsible had been fired. Asked specifically by the New York Times whether the bulge was a bullet proof vest, a Bush aide insisted it was not; the president was not wearing one the night of the debate. It turned out none of those public pronouncements were true. (The bulge was later confirmed to be a bullet proof vest.)

Intrigued by the unfolding unfolding, Robert Nelson, a 30-year Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist who works on photo imaging for NASA's various space probes and is an international authority on image analysis, began to do some at-home research on the bulge image. Nelson, with no partisan ax to grind, took a video image of Bush's back captured from the first debate and, using the same methods used to analyze images taken from spacecrafts, greatly sharpened the details, and specifically the shadows.

Nelson quickly concluded the bulge was real. And the enhanced image of Bush from the debate Nelson created ended any speculation. It was irrefutable that Bush was wearing some sort of device across his back, complete with that liked like a wire snaking down Bush's back. Disturbed by the misleading explanations he had read from Bush aides in the press, Nelson forwarded his information to a New York Times science reporter, who was interested. Eventually, three reporters were assigned to the story.

According to the reporting of David Lindorff, writing for Fairness and Accuracy in Report's Extra!, Nelson was told by a Times reporters that the bulge article, complete with his compelling imagery, would run Oct. 28, five days before the election. Instead, on the night of Oct. 27 the story was killed. In an email the next day, one of the Times reporters apologized to Nelson: "Sorry to have been a source of disappointment and frustration to you." Two months later, executive editor Keller explained, "In the end, nobody, including the scientist who brought it up, could take the story beyond speculation. In the crush of election-finale stories, it died a quiet, unlamented death." In other words, the Times article would have easily proven there was a bulge underneath Bush's jacket during the debates, which would have undercut all his campaign's public denials and thereby raised questions about Bush's credibility. But because the story could not authoritatively say what the bulge was (and because Bush aides still refused to acknowledge its existence), the article was not worth printing.

As for Keller's insistence the story died a "quiet, unlamented death," that was not true. At least one of the reporters assigned to the article, Andrew Revkin, publicly expressed his frustration with the decision to kill the story, noting the oddity of accepting the Bush campaign's flimsy explanation about a tailor's mistake over the word of an esteemed scientist who produced images that were impossible to ignore. The Times' public editor later said he also thought the paper should have run the bulge story.

Meanwhile, can anyone think of a single bad-news-for-Kerry story that news outlets politely sat on during the 2004 campaign?

UPDATE: : As pointed out in the comments below, I should not have used the word "confirmed" when writing about the bulge episode. i.e. That it was later confirmed Bush was wearing a bullter proof vest the night of the first debate. That fact was reported by The Hill magazine, citing an anonymous source. Lots of people don't buy that explanation. Go here and here to read more about the bulge.

No Blood for Hubris said...

So Condi bought $60,000 worth of shoes at Ferragamo?

Anonymous said...

It's not a strange thing to admit, because once the Times has a story the protocal is to take it to the government, CIA, etc., and say this is what we have what are your objections; so Rice already knows the stories the NYT has kept quiet on.

Anonymous said...

And they like to call themselves the "Newspaper of Record", blah, blah. Our great-grandchildren will be shocked to one day read about all the dirty little black ops perpetrated against the American people by this criminal administration. Because it will take that long for the "secret" papers to be declassified.
If Dante were alive today, I'm sure he would add another ring to hell, one specifically constructed for Bushco.

Anonymous said...

Yes, secrets such as....CLINTON LEFT YOU A TERRORISM PLAN!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Secretary Rice should keep her own secrets. That's a big problem with this administration, they're too unwilling or unable to mind their own secrets.

I figure it's fair to report them if they can't keep them.

Anonymous said...

A newspaper with as much history and accolades as the NY Times should not be keeping information from its readers. Seems to me that they've crossed over into another one of the Bush administrations parrots if they keep this up.

Anonymous said...

The very reason that the NYT reports on things that are "life and death", Condi, is because they are a matter of life and death for a lot of people. People are dying becasue of your policies, and they shouldn't be kept secret. No one cares about the secrets of the NYT boardroom, because they don't affect us.

stellans said...

What Ms. Rice and indeed all of the Bush/neocon/RightWing cabal fail to realize is that they work for us. They are responsible to us. And the workings of our government are supposed to be transparent.

This is the most secretive, brick-walled administration in our nation's history. And it's obvious they are desperate to keep things under wraps -- it's War Crimes, baby!

Anonymous said...

The ignoranace of the American press is truly astounding. Secrets are kept secret for security reasons. The law states that any "leaks" and the reporting of such leaks are a crime irregardless of whether they can be proved to be harmful to government operations. As such, any newspaper, news program, journalist, etc. who prints such "leaks" is subject to full criminal prosecution.

Look, it isn't about politics and which party you are for or against. The issue is that certain items are classified secret. If you do take the line that the current administration has big issues and you are totally upset with them, fine, use the power of the press to state your views. Selectively reporting leaks of classified information does damage the government.
It is Congress and the Judicial branch of the government that have oversight and checks and balances to the executive branch. It is their role to release classified information if it is found to be illegal activity.

It is at this juncture that the press should report illegal activity. Any reporting of leaks or attempts to circumvent the normal governmental processes, which work extremely well by the way, is not only hubris but illegal and yes, treasonous.

Anonymous said...

Do not trust Rice. What ever you do ,do not trust her. I worked for her a long long time ago,before politics, and you will see what I mean. Bush will see, and it will be part of the administrations and republican party's down fall, cause I'm not the only one who knows. I'm not even the important one who knows, but I'm sure it will be brought up at a politicaly convenient time for the democrats.

Anonymous said...

Irregardless isn't a word, genius.

Of course the NYT has kept secrets, just as all big media does, because the edification of the American people is last on their list of priorities.

This isn't about national security, this is about protecting the Bush administration and friends from the tempest of prosecutions and convictions that would descend upon them all if the American people only knew a fraction of their secrets.

Just remember, sacrifice your liberty for security, go to work, keep your mouth shut, and the wealthy government elite will take care of you.

Anonymous said...

So, Anonymous, when do Dick Cheney and Karl Rove serve time for the Valerie Plame leak?

The Executive branch can claim inappropriate classifications for anything incriminating to it. Remember Watergate? Remember the Washington Post's Woodward and Bernstein? It's too bad, but sometimes you have to choose between two evils. Most people choose the lesser evil. Unjustified mass murder on one hand, for example, versus leaking an embarrassing or incriminating truth on the other. Which would you choose?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else read "your secrets" as "the governments secrets" and not directly addressing Rice?

Audio would help clarify.

Anonymous said...

I do not think it is the responsibility of the media to reveal any information from the White House because I do think that there are things that we as the general public do not need to know. I do not have the confidence in our Government or our media outlets to put out information that is not slanted in some form whether to the right or left. As a former soldier I know that there are things that endanger the lives of our troops and their families when exposed by the media. When a country can focus more on the celebrity factor than on the real problems we face here on our own soil, how can you then expect that same country to handle the realities of truth, war, poverty,and the complicities of government. It is quite different from "Who is screwing Paris Hilton this week", or "Does Tom Cruise really have a baby". None of this will ever go away until we honestly start looking at the people we put into office and the honest reasons we put them there. We cannot move past our faults as a nation until we take a long hard look at our own philosophies and needs in our own back yard. We continue to repeat historic mistakes. They did not work then and they will not work now.

Anonymous said...

Come on, reporters at the NYT salivate to break a story just like anyone else. There's no hotline from the Bush admin. that tells them what to print. Rembember the evesdropping? the banking stories?

The NYT has already said they've witheld some specifics because they judged them as too vital to national security. Do you really want papers reporting on troop movements?

Spare this "big media" bullshit. If the NYT is supposed to be some Bush tool, they're obviously not doing too good a job when Cheney is accusing Keller of treason.

Anonymous said...

Checks and balances already exist to allow classified material to be kept secret, yet also undergo oversight and due process of law. However, in the case of the wiretapping fiasco, the FISA court was kept completely out of the loop by the bush administration. One can call publishing classified information "treasonous", but if the government doesn't live up their own legal obligations and report to the judges and courts designed to keep us free, putting the information on the front page is about the only recourse we have.