- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 10, 2000

Sometimes the bureaucrats can't leave bad enough alone. Elsewhere on this page the reader will find a letter from the deputy spokesman at the State Department, in which the administration tries to dig itself out from under a mess of its own making by taking this newspaper to task for printing inconvenient news.
At issue is the infamous Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) memorandum, the subject of Page One stories in this newspaper over the past two days, setting out the lengths to which the Clinton administration has gone in appeasing Fidel Castro over the Elian Gonzalez incident.
The language of the INS memorandum, contained in an e-mail, is clear enough: "[Department of State] wants to have a daily conference call to co-ordinate press guidance and communications with the Cubans." Any reasonable person would take this to mean that the Department of State wanted to have a daily conference call to coordinate press guidance and communications with the Cubans. Any reasonable person would further take the words, "the Cubans," to mean not a Cuban taxi driver or a Cuban pina colada maker, but officials of the Cuban government i.e., Fidel Castro.
This e-mail was never meant to be seen in public, and would not have been had Judicial Watch, a private advocacy group, not filed a Freedom of Information request. A court ordered it to be made public. This administration is having a lot of trouble with its e-mails, and we can quite understand why the State Department regards it as "unfortunate," as the State Department letter writer describes it, that The Times printed the contents of this e-mail. We think otherwise. The public has a right to know what its government is doing, particularly when its government is engaged in a smarmy embrace with a tin-pot dictator up to his usual brutal mischief.
What reasonable people will find unfortunate, we think, is the arrogant assumption of the State Department that it is entitled to instruct newspapers in what they should publish i.e., "in spite of this clarification, The Washington Times proceeded with publication." Perhaps some of the folks at the State Department have been hanging out too long with the Cubans, who do indeed have the authority to give instructions "guidance," you might say to newspapers about what is fit and appropriate to publish. Our friends in Foggy Bottom appear to have forgotten the ancient wisdom that when you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.

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