Sunday, October 22, 2006


The NY Times Public Editor now says the Times was wrong when it disclosed the nature of the SWIFT program that the Bush Administration was using to track terror-related financial transactions:

Since the job of public editor requires me to probe and question the published work and wisdom of Times journalists, there’s a special responsibility for me to acknowledge my own flawed assessments.

My July 2 column strongly supported The Times’s decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it’s a close call now, as it was then, I don’t think the article should have been published.

Those two factors are really what bring me to this corrective commentary: the apparent legality of the program in the United States, and the absence of any evidence that anyone’s private data had actually been misused. I had mentioned both as being part of “the most substantial argument against running the story,” but that reference was relegated to the bottom of my column.

Thanks, Byron. I for one, however, would have appreciated the attack of conscience before you all decided to publish the piece, not after several months of soul-searching.

Don't get me wrong; it's nice that you have a conscience of course, but it's meaningless if it doesn't keep you from making poor decisions.

Tom Maguire with his thoughts here.

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