Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Purge of the New York Times Archives falls short

Siccing James Taranto on the New York Times is roughly equivalent to unleashing a rottweiler on a pound of grilled hamburger. There's so much exposed meat... so much fat... well, it reminds me of that sequence from White Men Can't Jump:

S***. That's just too easy!

No. that s*** is too easy!

It's too easy!

No. that s*** is... too easy!

F*** it.

I don't want to play no more.

We won't play no more.

It's just too easy to pick on the Times. But, daggone it, it's still fun!

Two papers in one!

Taranto features an ongoing series entitled Two papers in one!. The latest entry deals with the ACLU's judge-shopping exercise that ended up in Michigan and one Anna Diggs Taylor, an appointee of (yes, you guessed it) Jimmah Carter.

Just to refresh your memory, the ACLU wanted to find a federal district or judge that would look favorably on its case regarding the NSA's warrantless wiretaps of international calls. It therefore avoided any circuits that had already looked favorably upon warrantless surveillance by the executive branch. Instead, it found the Sixth Circuit and Judge Anna Diggs Taylor -- a '79 Carter appointee described by the local paper as, "a liberal with Democratic roots."

To demonstrate how clueless her decision was, consider warrantless international wiretaps and their physical equivalent: entering or leaving the country. Without a warrant, Customs can search and question you. They can physically go through every one of your belongings, rip apart your suitcases, strip-search you, detain you for a period of time, intensely interview you... all without a warrant. That's what Customs does.

Apparently Anna Diggs Taylor doesn't know that. Of course, the Times had not one but two views on Taylor's decision:

"With a careful, thoroughly grounded opinion, one judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration." --editorial, New York Times, Aug. 18

"Even legal experts who agreed with a federal judge's conclusion on Thursday that a National Security Agency surveillance program is unlawful were distancing themselves from the decision's reasoning and rhetoric yesterday. They said the opinion overlooked important precedents, failed to engage the government's major arguments, used circular reasoning, substituted passion for analysis and did not even offer the best reasons for its own conclusions. Discomfort with the quality of the decision is almost universal, said Howard J. Bashman . . ." --news story, New York Times, Aug. 19

Purge of the Times Archive fails

Taranto also points to a Times op-ed that notes Saddam Hussein's new trial for a campaign, code-named Anfal ("Spoils of War"), designed to exterminate Iraq's Kurdish population:

...Over six months in 1988, at least 50,000 Kurds were killed, many of them victims of the mustard and nerve gas rained down by Iraqi planes. Tens of thousands more were tortured or saw their villages turned to rubble, their fields and rivers and newborn infants poisoned by the chemical attacks...

Those would be the same weapons of mass destruction that Saddam never had. Taranto points out that the Times -- true to form -- pins the genocide on (who else?) Ronald Reagan:

...Mr. Hussein was America's ally of convenience against Iran, and it was easier for the Reagan White House to look the other way...

Of course, the Times hasn't censored their archives the way they tend to censor their news reporters (heard about the 500 WMDs found in Iraq since 2003? Or Al Qaqaa since election day 2004? Didn't think so...). So they forgot to purge this 1988 op-ed that pilloried the Reagan administration not for siding with Iraq but instead for urging a ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war:

...Credit the State Department at least for condemning Iraq's ''abhorrent and unjustifiable'' use of poison gas. The department has rightly ignored Administration officials who seem to believe that saying anything might complicate the gulf war [i.e., Iran-Iraq war] cease-fire talks...

Can you say 'revisionism'?

Meanwhile, if we fast-forward to today's op-ed, the Times trots out the so-tired-its-expired Abu Graib soundbite along with a fascinating addition:

...One of the biggest tragedies of the Bush administration's gross mishandling of the occupation of Iraq--the lack of basic security and jobs, the shame and horror of Abu Ghraib, the thousands of civilian deaths--is that the rest of Iraq will likely not take the time to mourn the victims of Anfal...

As Taranto notes, "The Iraqis aren't mourning and it's Bush's fault!"

The paper fails to recognize the unintentional irony that, had the U.S. steered to the Times' preferred course, Saddam Hussein would still be in power and mass genocide would remain the order of the day*.

If there's a 2006 Pulitzer for Hypocrisy, the Times is a slam-dunk lock for this year's award. Come to think of it, there might be an award for a decade in there somewhere.

*Along with those WMDs that "never existed", uranium from Niger that Iraq tried to purchase in 1999, etc.

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