International surveillance

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 4, 2006

That's what it is. It's not "domestic spying" no matter how many times the New York Times misuses the term.

On Sunday, Times public editor Byron Calame wrote this piece describing how the Times bosses weren't interested in explaining why they held the surveillance story for a year and why they released it when they did.

I disagree with Calame's decision to pour accolades on his bosses decision to publish a story about a program that helps ensure U.S. security -- but at least that lets you know where Calame is coming from.

I wrote an e-mail to Calame the very night that his column appeared online suggesting that he publish his list of questions that Times editor Bill Keller and publisher Arthur Sulzberger refused to answer. (A couple hours later, Michelle Malkin had the same idea.)

Well, Calame has responded to these requests on the part of the public (whom he is supposed to be representing) by telling us to pound sand.

Numerous readers have asked that I publish the questions that I have prepared for Mr. Keller. I have no present intention to publish them, for several reasons. First, the fundamental concerns I have are raised in the column. Second, the questions are just that -- questions designed to elicit information for me to evaluate and decide what is important and worth conveying to readers. The whole list of questions was cited in the column to illustrate the wholesale rejection of the queries; the answers are what is relevant when it comes to individual questions. Third, some of the 35 questions have never been presented to Mr. Keller; it wouldn't be fair or appropriate to go public with them when he hasn't had a chance to respond.

Calame's first point is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

Calame's second point shows that he is more interested in acting as yet another filter between the public and the paper. Instead of opening a window, Calame is deciding just how translucent the blind covering the window is going to be.

Calame's third point is well-taken, but that just means that he should only be holding back seven questions, we'd like the other 28. Better yet, send the additional seven to Keller and when he rebuffs you, then publish all of them.

I understand Keller's desire to make sure that the felons that he is protecting don't get sent to prison. (Is this a good time to point out that it's been far too long since we've executed anyone for espionage?) But, you can't expect to keep the public's trust when you're swearing everyone to silence.

As for Calame, I honestly thought that you couldn't do worse than Dan Okrent. I was wrong.


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January 2006



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