Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Pulitzer winning story

The November 2, 2005 edition of the Washington Post featured a page one article by Dana Priest, under the headline, CIA Hold Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons. The article reported that, “The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.”

The government’s secret gulag was embarrassing, to say the least. No less so because the Dana Priest won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting it. What to do?

The same government that can’t figure out who leaked Valerie Wilson’s covert status, got right on it, and promptly fired a CIA agent, Mary McCarthy who was seen lunching with Dana Priest. Ms. McCarthy denies having leaked the information regarding “black site” prisons. She also denies ever having the information. To many, it looked like a scape-goating.

At the White House press briefing, Scott McClellan answered questions about the firing of Mary McCarthy, who, it should be noted was going to retire at the end of the month, anyway. This is from his answer:
The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter. And the unauthorized disclosure of classified information can severely harm our national security. We have talked previously about the terrorist surveillance program and how the unauthorized disclosure of that program has shown the enemy our playbook. We are engaged in a difficult and long war against a bunch of ideological extremists who want to do everything they can to stop the advance of freedom in this world and want to harm innocent Americans and innocent people in the civilized world. And that's why it's important that we not show them our playbook. So the leaking of classified information is a matter that the President takes very seriously.
This is wrong on so many levels.

First, wrong Pulitzer Prize. It was the James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times that won a National Reporting Pulitzer for “their carefully sourced stories on secret domestic eavesdropping that stirred a national debate on the boundary line between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberty.” These were the stories with headlines like “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts.”

Second, give up the “terrorist surveillance program” newspeak. It’s domestic spying, it’s illegal, and you can’t spin away from it.

Third, does Scott McClellan believe that al Qaeda learned from the New York Times that the American Government is trying to listen to their phone calls and read their emails? I am trying to picture Osama Bin Laden putting out to his evil minions an urgent message:
In the name of the merciful and beneficent Allah, please be careful on the ones-phay. We have reason to believe the Satanic Crusaders are trying to listen to our phone calls. No more talk about upcoming terrorist acts, please. Peace be unto you. OBL.

P.S. In light of the inconvenience that this memo may cause, the reward for martyrs will immediately be increased to 72 virgins.
Fourth, “the leaking of classified information is a matter that the President takes very seriously”? Get serious. We now know that none other than King George W, himself, authorized leaking selected portions of the highly classified National Security Estimate. The portions that were leaked were selected to convey an impression that was the exact opposite of what was in the document taken as a whole. I guess what Scott McClellan meant to say is, “The President himself is a serious leaker.”

It should be obvious that it is time for Scott McClellan to take a permanent vacation. We need a Press Secretary who is willing to speak the truth. Someone not afraid to say:

Bush has “lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding the public fisc." [3/17/06]

“George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion." [3/17/06]

“President Bush distilled the essence of his presidency in this year’s State of the Union Address: brilliant foreign policy and listless domestic policy." [2/3/06]

“George Bush has become something of an embarrassment." [11/11/05]

“Bush “has a habit of singing from the Political Correctness hymnal.” [10/7/05]

No president has looked this impotent this long when it comes to defending presidential powers and prerogatives.” [9/30/05]

Bush “has given the impression that [he] is more eager to please than lead and that political opponents can get their way if they simply dig in their heels and behave like petulant trust-fund brats, demanding money and favor now!” [9/30/05]

When it comes to federal spending, George W. Bush is the boy who can’t say no. In each of his three years at the helm, the president has warned Congress to restrain its spending appetites, but so far nobody has pushed away from the table mainly because the president doesn’t seem to mean what he says.” [The Detroit News, 12/28/03]

“The president doesn’t seem to give a rip about spending restraint.” [The Detroit News, 12/28/03]

“Bush, for all his personal appeal, ultimately bolstered his detractors’ claims that he didn’t have the drive and work ethic to succeed.” [11/16/00]

Little in the character of demeanor of Al Gore or George Bush makes us say to ourselves: Now, this man is truly special! Little in our present peace and prosperity impels us to say: Give us a great man!” [8/25/00]

“George W. Bush, meanwhile, talks of a pillowy America, full of niceness and goodwill. Bush has inherited his mother’s attractive feistiness, but he also got his father’s syntax. At one point last week, he stunned a friendly audience by barking out absurd and inappropriate words, like a soul tortured with Tourette’s.”[8/25/00]

“He recently tried to dazzle reporters by discussing the vagaries of Congressional Budget Office economic forecasts, but his recitation of numbers proved so bewildering that not even his aides could produce a comprehensible translation. The English Language has become a minefield for the man, whose malaprops make him the political heir not of Ronald Reagan, but Norm Crosby.” [8/25/00]

On the policy side, he has become a classical dime-store Democrat. He gladly will shovel money into programs that enjoy undeserved prestige, such as Head Start. He seems to consider it mean-spirited to shut down programs that rip-off taxpayers and mislead supposed beneficiaries.” [8/25/00]

Let's welcome Tony Snow, who insiders are quoted as saying will be our next White House Press Secretary. Scott McClellan, be gone.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

P.S. Thanks to Think for the compilation of quotes.

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