Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I don't intend for this to be a political blog, but when an issue touches on the First Amendment, it's certainly on-topic here.

In choosing the cartoons for this week's "Drawing Conclusions," I anticipated dealing with the NYTimes disclosures. However, there weren't enough relevant cartoons available by deadline Tuesday. I expect to come back to the matter next week, and I hope by then there are some intelligent anti-Times cartoons rather than just dumb, frantic, paranoid recitations of right-wing talking points. There could be a smart discussion of when the press should publish and when it should shut up, and I'd prefer to see it treated with wit and insight from both sides.

But maybe that discussion can't emerge from this particular example, for the simple reason that this is a stupid example.

The rightwing is asking, well, what if the press had announced the date of the D-Day invasion back in 1944?

Aside from the point that invading Normandy didn't involve authorizing a violation of the Bill of Rights, here's how the question should be phrased: "What if the press had announced the date of the D-Day invasion four years after the president himself announced it?"

Here's what our Dear Leader told FEMA employees, on October 1, 2001:

"As you may remember, I made it clear that part of winning the war against terror would be to cut off these evil people's money; it would be to trace their assets and freeze them, cut off their cash flows, hold people accountable who fund them, who allow the funds to go through their institutions; and not only do that at home, but to convince others around the world to join us in doing so.

"Thus far, we've frozen $6 million in bank accounts linked to terrorist activity. We've frozen 30 al Qaeda accounts in the United States and 20 overseas. And we're just beginning."

There's more to this story in an excellent takedown on the Columbia Journalism Review site:
http://www.cjrdaily.org/politics/up_in_arms_over_a_fouryearold.php

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The illustration today is a July 3, 2003 cartoon by Ann Telnaes, whose work I greatly admire. Her site at www.anntelnaes.com is always worth a visit.

4 comments:

ronnie said...

"I don't intend for this to be a political blog..."

Yeah. I remember writing that in one of my early blog posts too.

So when I read this tonight, I laughed and I laughed...

;)

ronnie

Mike said...

"One of the first things we discover
in these groups is that personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time." -- Carol Hanisch, "The Personal is Political," March, 1969

Dann said...

Hi Mike,

Hoo-boy....where to start.

How about a recommendation for a cartoon for next weeks Drawing Conclusions??

It seems to me that a lot of the commentary is really going over the top. The CJR piece is an a pretty good example of that.

About the only reasonable thing I've read thus far is that the issues surrounding this event are "complicated". Quite right.

What realistic steps can be taken when a media organization commits acts that aid the enemy?? If someone were sneaking classified information out of the Pentagon and shipping it to Usama bin Laden, what punishment would they face? How do the actions of the NYTimes [and LATimes and the WSJ] in publishing classified information about an effective and legal intelligence program differ?

Does the media have any responsibility towards the nation that guarantees their ability to investigate and report the news of the day?

I'd also add that apparently one of the Freepers dug up an old NYTimes editorial that called for precisely the sort of program that they have so recently declassified for the government. Kind of ironic that the NYTimes would bust the government's cajones for creating a program that the NYTimes originally supported.

And I left a small gift for you here:

Regards,
Dann

Mike said...

Hey, Dann, glad you're here.

I'm really not trying to get into specifics of politics here, but it is worth discussing why I'd choose one cartoon over another, and the real problem I'm having is that I don't feel the opposition to the NYTimes is focusing on what is really bothering the White House about it.

The government has made no secret about the fact that they have been tracking financial transactions. I suppose that, if somebody thought he could secretly transfer funds from a bank in Mogadishu to one in Syria, he might now be thinking, "Damn! I wonder if that transaction was routed through that consortium in Belgium?" But I kinda doubt it. Anybody who thinks he can operate in secret probably continues to think so, and anybody any smarter had already taken this type of program into consideration.

The White House, I strongly suspect, is upset because the article says there are those within the program who have reservations about the invasion of privacy involved. And if some cartoonist wanted to riff on that -- to show the media demanding that something be done and then criticizing the details of how it's carried out -- I'd want to run that cartoon.

But the notion that the Times revealed something that will cause the terrorists to change their method of shifting money to one we can't penetrate is a red herring, and it's hard for me to take it seriously.

Maybe you had to have either done time or been on the receiving end of COINTELPRO in the Sixties to appreciate this, but bad guys fall into two categories -- those who know they're being watched and those who think they're smart enough to get away with stuff.

Whichever group the terrorists fall into, the NYTimes didn't aid them in any material way.