- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2006

Keller’s story

The editor of the New York Times says that if he had it to do again, he would still publish his newspaper’s outing of a secret program monitoring global bank transfers, despite outrage from the White House and members of Congress.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face The Nation” yesterday, Times executive editor Bill Keller said he did not regret his decision to run the story, which was condemned on Thursday in a vote by the Republican-led House in a nonbinding resolution.

“I think it’s useful for us to discuss, to know about how our government is waging this war to protect us,” Mr. Keller said of the story, which revealed how the CIA and Treasury Department access millions of money-transfer records from SWIFT, the Belgium-based international cooperative that serves as a clearinghouse for interbank transactions.

Mr. Keller downplayed the impact of the June 23 story, saying terrorists long have surmised that their bank transactions are monitored.

“This was a case where clearly the terrorists or the people who finance terrorism know quite well, because the Treasury Department and the White House have talked openly about it, that they monitor international banking transactions. It’s not news to the terrorists,” Mr. Keller said.

Mr. Keller said the attacks on the New York Times — including one Republican congressman’s call for the paper to be prosecuted for treason — are in part political.

“It’s an election year. Beating up on the New York Times is red meat for the [Republican] conservative base.”

But he added that the report had embarrassed a highly secretive government.

“I think the administration is a little embarrassed. … And making this kind of a clamor, I suspect, they hope will silence people who do talk to the press and maybe intimidate reporters.”

An ‘abomination’

“The Supreme Court’s decision to impose by judicial fiat a treaty that no politically accountable official would dare propose — a one-sided compact wherein the United States gives elevated due process to al Qaeda’s terrorists while they continue slaughtering civilians and torturing their captives to death — is an abomination,” the editors of National Review write at www.nationalreview.com.

“The extent of the abomination is difficult to quantify. Thursday’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld gets worse the more one studies it,” the magazine said.

“To begin with, the court had no business deciding this case at all. Not only did it target the president’s commander-in-chief authority to determine what is militarily necessary in wartime, it also imperiously slapped down the U.S. Congress. In last December’s Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), Congress — acting on its constitutional prerogative — rescinded the unprecedented jurisdiction that the Supreme Court, in the 2004 Rasul case, had tried to claim over alien enemy combatants captured in wartime and held outside the U.S. (that is, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts). This court, however, acknowledges no limits on its powers — whether imposed by Congress or by the English language, which it had to torture in order to construe the DTA’s unambiguous limitation of its jurisdiction as an invitation to meddle.

“And meddle it did. It rewrote legislation that clearly authorized the military commissions for captured terrorists that President Bush ordered in late 2001. It rewrote the Geneva Conventions. And it claimed for itself the mantle of final authority over both international relations and military necessity — matters in which it is wholly lacking institutional competence and which the Framers committed singularly to the chief executive.”

Sounds familiar

“I’ve been out of the political scene for more than three years, but I find myself quoting the noted philosopher Yogi Berra when I watch what’s happening in Washington: ‘It’s deja vu all over again,’ “former Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican, writes in the Las Vegas Journal-Review.

“Observing the machinations and maneuverings of Democrats on Capitol Hill, I feel like I’m watching a replay of Republican tactics carried out in 1997 and 1998,” Mr. Watts said.

“Harken back to yesteryear when a man named Bill Clinton was on the White House hot seat. Texas Rep. Tom DeLay was allowing no delays in his ascendancy to power in the Republican conference. Because of his deep disdain for Clinton and his eagerness to build a political empire, DeLay mapped out a simple plan: Attack Clinton, run against Clinton, defeat Clinton. We neglected our own accomplishments and agenda and ran against the incumbent president. It was all Clinton, all the time.

“Unfortunately, the Republicans failed to note one very important fact: Bill Clinton was not on the ballot in 1998.

“Now, just eight years later — but a lifetime in political years — the Democrats, emboldened by snapshots in time called public opinion polls, are running against George W. Bush.

“They’re putting all their eggs in a basket marked ‘Iraq.’ It matters not a whit to them that the leader of terrorist cells in Iraq has been taken out. They won’t take anyone’s word on the war — not the president’s, not even those of the late and unlamented terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi. You may not have heard this on your favorite newscast, but Zarqawi’s not-so-safe house housed a document he wrote citing the successes of U.S. efforts in Iraq, as opposed to the insurgency’s own ineffectiveness and declining morale.”

Hillary’s blogger

“White House and top Republican strategists are buzzing about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s hiring of noted political blogger Peter Daou,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Under fire on many liberal blogs for her moderate stance on the war and shift to the middle on social issues, Clinton is apparently moving to get her word on the fast-growing political medium, they said. ‘We noticed,’ said a White House official. ‘Look, it’s another sign she’s in this campaign for 2008 and the White House.’ A Republican insider added that the move is meant to help Clinton in the Internet media, where she is often portrayed as a weak Democrat.

“Daou said in an online memo to readers posted on Salon.com that he wants to close the ‘triangle’ of traditional media, politics, and the blogosphere. Having done media blogging and having previously run Sen. John Kerry’s presidential Web operation, he wrote, has ‘exposed me to the tensions on either side. In the year and a half since the campaign ended, I’ve learned more about the media side of the triangle, working with Media Matters and others to highlight conservative misinformation and false narratives in the press. My aim has been to seek ways to build bridges between the Democratic establishment, the media and the blog community. Which brings me to the point of this blog post: I have been offered — and accepted — what I believe is a unique opportunity to help close the triangle: joining Senator Clinton’s team as a blog adviser to facilitate and expand her relationship with the netroots.’ ”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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