With its recent story naming a CIA analyst who interrogated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, The New York Times has once again undermined our safety.
Fearing retribution, the agency asked the paper not to name the CIA analyst. The paper ran his name anyway, saying it generally withholds names only in the case of “victims of sexual assault or intelligence officers operating undercover.”
While the operative was not serving undercover, the fact that he interrogated the architect of the 9/11 plot was classified. Naming him added nothing to the Times story. But it will make him a possible target of al-Qaida and will make other CIA officers wonder if they want to risk being involved in any sensitive intelligence operations if their identity may be publicly disclosed, jeopardizing their safety and the safety of their families.
The case for withholding his name was thus even more compelling than not running the name of Valerie Plame, who was technically undercover but not in any danger. Yet the Times has run 521 stories suggesting it was wrong for the White House, and specifically Karl Rove, to divulge her name. Only 27 of the articles mentioned the person who actually leaked her name to columnist Robert Novak, former State Department official Richard Armitage, who ironically has been critical of the Bush administration.
The New York Times previously disclosed the existence of the Bush administration’s secret National Security Agency program for intercepting calls of suspected terrorists when one leg of the call is in the U.S. It also disclosed the administration’s SWIFT program for tracking the worldwide financial transactions of terrorists.
In both cases, the disclosures warned terrorists that their communication channels were being intercepted, so they began using other methods, thus undercutting our safety and making another successful 9/11 attack more likely.
In neither case was any abuse — meaning an illegal act for political or otherwise improper purposes — involved. In the case of the phone and e-mail intercepts, Bush disclosed the program at its inception to key members of Congress, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, and the NSA inspector general. Congress has since endorsed the program with legislation.
Calling the leaks “devastating,” Fran Townsend told me, when she was the chief of counterterrorism in the White House, “It’s not just a question of you're putting individuals at risk. The real risk is to the lives of Americans who may suffer an attack because we couldn’t stop it, because the source was taken out.”
Besides its rule on naming subjects of stories, The New York Times withholds people’s names for one other reason: In its June 22 article, the paper said most of the sources for the article could not be named because they were speaking about a highly classified program.
When it helps The New York Times get a story, names are withheld. When it helps our national security, they are not. And when the next attack comes — as it surely will — The New York Times will be the first to blame President Bush.
Grover Norquist’s Book Party
Grand Master Jhoon Rhee was a big hit — no pun intended — at the book party for Grover Norquist’s “Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government’s Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.”
A Korean immigrant, Rhee is known as the father of American tae kwon do and owns a chain of martial arts studios. For years his slogan in TV ads was, “Nobody bothers me!”
Rhee is a big supporter of the GOP and conservative causes.
“Republicans have more common sense than Democrats,” he allowed at the party at the Capitol Hill home of Republican strategist Bernie Robinson.
Asked by my wife Pam about his exercise routine, Rhee, 76, said that a few years ago he broke his arm and was unable to do his usual 1,000 daily pushups. So he did sets of 16 one-armed ones.
Other hosts were Dave Keene of the American Conservative Union and his wife Donna, Jim Martin of the 60 Plus Association, Christopher Murray of the D.C. Republican Committee, and conservative strategist Richard Viguerie.
Nixon Staff Reunion
A book party at Zola restaurant in Washington, D.C., for Geoff Shepard’s “The Secret Plot to Make Ted Kennedy President” was also the annual reunion of those who served in the White House under Presidents Nixon or Ford. Shepard, who served on the staffs of both presidents from 1969 to 1975, founded the reunion group.
Previous reunions have been held at the Metropolitan Club, the Cash Room of Main Treasury, the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the State Department, and the residence of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Among those at the Zola party were Fred Malek, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget under Nixon; Ken Khachigian, a Nixon aide who became President Reagan’s chief speechwriter; and Gerald Warren, Nixon’s deputy press secretary.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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