Chris Spannos: When I read the Times early reporting on this new terror threat, such as Eric Schmitt’s August 2 “Qaeda Messages Prompt U.S. Terror Warning,” I was struck by the overwhelming reliance on sources cited as “Intelligence officials said,” “Security analysts said,” “Pentagon officials said,” and so on. What was your reaction when you read the Times’ reporting?
Howard Friel: My reaction was, Why does the Times continue to permit administration sources to make these kinds of serious pronouncements anonymously, in likely violation of the Times’ own editorial standards on confidential sources? And, What is the problem, if the information is credible, with senior administration officials going on record by name? All you have to do is think about this for two seconds. In March of this year, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, sitting under oath in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, lied to the committee, in violation of federal law, while denying that the NSA collects electronic communication data-emails and phone calls-from millions of Americans not suspected of a crime. And he wasn’t fired by President Obama for lying to Congress. Now all of that says a lot. For one thing, it says that if high-ranking administration officials are willing to lie in person in public to the Congress, it stands to reason that there is a very high risk that those officials will lie when they are permitted to speak anonymously to the public through the press. Given this obvious risk of lying, apparently with protection from the president, why would the Times’ top reporters and editors permit Obama officials to use their newspaper as an instrument of these intense anonymous claims about this major threat of terrorism? Why not get it on record with a name attached to it? Get James Clapper, he’s the head of U.S. intelligence, by name saying that this is the biggest terrorist threat since 9/11, which is what the administration has claimed. Or get John Brennan, director of central intelligence, on record to say that. But the Times won’t do this because they want the story. They want ongoing access to these same officials, which probably would be burned if they held these people to a higher standard of disclosure. And if the Times did burn these bridges, because this administration, and especially this administration, is vindictive and punitive, they wouldn’t get the next big story either. Do I know what the facts are behind this story? I do not. But these claims are being issued to the public by the highest ranking officials in the United States through the most prestigious news organization in the United States, but I don’t think we should trust those claims because the manner in which they are delivered to the public is self-serving on both sides. And if the process is corrupt, there is less reason to view the substance as believable.
via NYTX Special: NYT’s Greatest Terror Threat Since 9-11 Echoes Iraq WMD by Howard Friel – email@example.com – Gmail.