Sunday, May 31, 2009

New York Times Hiding Obama's Bush-Like Spying Policy

When news of then President George W. Bush's illegal wiretapping program broke, The New York Times, placed it on the front page, above the fold and it deserved to be on the front page. The president after all, was engaging in an activity had violated the privacy rights of an unknown number of American citizens and had done so without Congressional approval and without a court-approved warrant.

Today, however, the paper of record gave no such prominent coverage to the current administration's decision to withhold a "top secret" document lawyers challenging Bush's wiretap program. Judge Vaughn R. Walker ordered the administration to submit the requested documents but the Obama administration apparently will appeal this judge's decision.

Apparently, The New York Times' editors did not feel this revelation warranted press coverage on the first 19 pages of the paper.
Its backers I guess will claim that the administration was merely defending a prior administration's conduct and it could of course, claim that a law that was enacted by Congress at the prior administration's behest defends the government and the private telecommunications companies that cooperated with them from any lawsuits initiated by private citizens who felt their privacy rights were violated.

Were that to be the case, however, the president would drop the challenge and adhere to the judge's order in the interest of transparency (something the president at one time promised) while fighting challenges that the lawyers can sue the telecommunications industry or the government. In the alternative, (and this is the more preferable option), the administration would release the information, apologize for what the administration had done to the American people, and agree to a compensation package for those Americans who were wronged for what was done to them while defending the telecommunication businesses (since they are now protected by law for actions which they were doing on the government's behalf).

Either step would distance the administration from its predecessor's policies so its failure to do adopt either course (or provide an alternative of its own) suggests it will fight to uphold the Bush administration's policy.

This deserved front page news coverage. That it did not receive such press coverage from The New York Times undermines its claim to provide unbiased news coverage.

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