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Nathan Tabor
 You're here » Christian Columns Index » Nathan Tabor » NYT Gives Advice On How To Reveal State Secrets and Thwart the Federal Government
NYT Gives Advice On How To Reveal State Secrets and Thwart the Federal Government
by Nathan Tabor
September 15, 2006
Category: Political
IN THE LAST few years, we've witnessed the ongoing battle between newspapers like the New York Times and the federal government and the "right" of newspapers to hold their sources confidential. The audacity of the Times to release classified secret or top secret information because of the industry's classic "the people have a right to know" argument was highlighted by NYT executive editor Bill Keller's decision to release info about the National Security Agency's efforts to monitor phone calls without court-approved warrants.

The Times had held back on the story for over a year, but now, President Bush had stepped in to personally plead the government's case to continue to hold back on the story to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Keller, and Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman. To emphasize the devastation that the release of this information might cause on the NSA operation if the paper revealed the secret program to the public and there was another terrorist attack on American soil, the President warned the three that they would be implicated. As Keller later noted, "The basic message was 'You'll have blood on your hands.'"

So what did "The Paper of Record" do? They released the information anyway. Why? Jill Abramson, managing editor at the Times, likened the story to another infamous leak of classified government information decades earlier, claiming that the NSA story "may very well turn out to be this generation's Pentagon Papers."

National security be damned, and let's drop the pretense that the public has a right to know. There's a Pulitzer Prize to be won!

The White House has been fighting back against the Times liberal perception that any classified information that somehow makes its way to them is fair game. Management at the New York Times realizes, however, that their disregard for exposing state secrets has also made the paper and its employees fair game too, and that includes facing government subpoenas, the jailing of reporters to reveal their sources, and ultimately, prosecution.

With all this in mind, you might think that the paper would think twice about showcasing classified information on the its front page that would be read by consumers - and terrorists. They're thinking twice alright, thinking twice on how they can thwart "the persistent legal perils that confront us," as Bill Keller has put it.

To this end, as the New York Observer reports, the Times is now giving lessons to their reporters on how they can best "dispos[e] of story drafts and [cut] back on telephone and e-mail contact with sources-or us[e] disposable cell phones for important calls." In addition, New York Times reporter David Barstow has recommended other subterfuges such as "altering Times expense-sheet forms so that a reporter does not have to list the names of sources who have been taken out for lunch or dinner." Barstow adds that even company e-mail should conveniently disappear in a short time in order to hinder any investigation of who might be leaking secrets to the Times staff. "There has been a conversation about changing our e-mail system so that e-mail is automatically deleted after 30 days unless you mark the e-mail for preservation," says Barstow.

Simply amazing.

Nathan Tabor is a conservative political activist based in Kernersville, North Carolina. He has his BA in Psychology and his Master’s Degree in Public Policy. He is a contributing editor at Contact him at

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