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NYT public ed.: Times delayed eavesdropping article before 2004 election [View All]

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 07:29 PM
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NYT public ed.: Times delayed eavesdropping article before 2004 election
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The Public Editor
Eavesdropping and the Election: An Answer on the Question of Timing
Published: August 13, 2006

NYT public editor Byron Calame

THE NEW YORK TIMESS Dec. 16 article that disclosed the Bush administrations warrantless eavesdropping has led to an important public debate about the once-secret program. And the decision to write about the program in the face of White House pressure deserved even more praise than I gave it in a January column, which focused on the papers inadequate explanation of why it had delayed publication for a year....But contradictory post-publication comments by Times editors and others about just how long the article was held have left me increasingly concerned about one key question: Did The Times mislead readers by stating that any delay in publication came after the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election?... I have now learned from Bill Keller, the executive editor, that The Times delayed publication of drafts of the eavesdropping article before the 2004 election....


A number of readers critical of the Bush administration have remained particularly suspicious of the articles assertion that the publication delay dated back only a year to Dec. 16, 2004. They contend that pre-election disclosure of the National Security Agencys warrantless eavesdropping could have changed the outcome of the election....


Internal discussions about drafts of the article had been dragging on for weeks before the Nov. 2 election, Mr. Keller acknowledged. That process had included talks with the Bush administration. He said a fresh draft was the subject of internal deliberations less than a week before the election.

The climactic discussion about whether to publish was right on the eve of the election, Mr. Keller said. The pre-election discussions included Jill Abramson, a managing editor; Philip Taubman, the chief of the Washington bureau; Rebecca Corbett, the editor handling the story, and often Mr. Risen. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, was briefed, but Mr. Keller said the final decision to hold the story was his....He has repeatedly indicated that a major reason for the publication delays was the administrations claim that everyone involved was satisfied with the programs legality. Later, he has said, it became clear that questions about the programs legality loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood....
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