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Censorship The Media Government United States Politics

White House Forces Censorship of New York Times 356

Posted by Zonk
from the beating-on-the-grey-lady dept.
VE3OGG writes "It would seem that scientists are not the only ones facing censorship from the White House. According to several news sources the New York Times originally had intended to run an article co-authored by a former employee of the National Security Council, critical of the current administration's policies toward Iran. The article had passed the CIA's publication review board, but was later redacted on orders from the White House. Article authors Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann were former advisers to the White House, and thus all of their publications are scrutinized by a board before they can be published. Of the numerous documents this pair has published since leaving their positions, they say this was the first that was actively censored.
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White House Forces Censorship of New York Times

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  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:48PM (#17348936) Homepage Journal
    I would have been really surprised if the government would have allowed a critical article co-written by a government official to be published. There is nothing sinister going on here ... if the NYT is upset, they should have just interviewed the National Security Council employee instead of using that individual as a co-author.

    Co-authoring any article with a government employee (or even a corporate employee) is always a risk. While the NYT is free to publish almost anything they want, the co-author (by nature of his/her employment) is not, which was the problem in this situation.
  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:51PM (#17348950)
    Article authors Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann were former advisers to the White House, and thus all of their publications are scrutinized by a board before they can be published
    I can understand if current government employees have to go through this, or if they sign an agreement that they will allow this to happen for the rest of their lives, but come on! They are bound by law not to disclose classified information, so if they violate it, they can prosecute them, but noone should censor them! Especially when the administration doesn't understand the difference between "classified information" and "information we don't like".
  • "Co-authoring any article with a government employee (or even a corporate employee) is always a risk. While the NYT is free to publish almost anything they want, the co-author (by nature of his/her employment) is not, which was the problem in this situation."


    The co-author is a former employee. I fail to see the reasoning behind the censorship, given the circumstances. Perhaps, if it were some issue of national security, I could see the relevance. However, I do not believe it is. More like current administration security.

    TLF
  • by rblancarte (213492) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:55PM (#17348968) Homepage
    Because the guys have government secrets that can be passed. I am sure they wouldn't, but you never know.

    RonB
  • by rs232 (849320) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:57PM (#17348978)
    "I would have been really surprised if the government would have allowed a critical article co-written by a government official to be published .. While the NYT is free to publish almost anything they want, the co-author (by nature of his/her employment) is not, which was the problem in this situation"

    Wrong and wrong again. He was a former adviser to the White House employed by the NSC. It just is what it looks like, the Bush regime trying to silence legimite criticism in the media.

    was Re:Nothing unusual or unconstitutional here (Score:3, Republican)
  • by scotch (102596) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:03PM (#17349002) Homepage
    The idea of the review is to determine if classified information is revealed by the article. Presumably, in this case it is. Or maybe not.
  • by iOsiris (944032) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:14PM (#17349044)
    Ever notice how new and emerging democracies have freer and more open press while the modern democracies are slowly retracting this fundamental right.
  • by IdleTime (561841) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:17PM (#17349062) Journal
    * sigh *

    It said the article had passed the review board so it could not have included anything secret.

    USA has become a 1st world economy with a 3rd world society.
  • by Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:27PM (#17349110) Homepage Journal
    There were two review boards, though only one appears to be formal. The one run by the CIA said there was nothing there that couldn't be printed. The less formal board from the White House claimed that there was classified info that had to be redacted. I would think that the CIA would be a better judge of this, but oh well...
  • Re:2 things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:28PM (#17349122) Homepage Journal
    So No, BLOGS are not news sources.

    These days, neither are US newspapers, since they're subject to censorship from many directions. For trustworthy news, we now have to go to foreign news media (and even then double-check that they didn't get their news from censored sources), which I find rather sad.

  • by Dunbal (464142) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:31PM (#17349138)
    USA has become a 1st world economy with a 3rd world society.

          No, in a 3rd world society the article would have been published. But the author would be found shot dead in his car a few months later.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:33PM (#17349152) Homepage Journal
    Well, american instutitions are much enthusiastic about advertising american values about free speech, transparent government, democracy, freedom and such to the world.

    We listen to those, then we visit to slashdot and see that the u.s. government is actively censoring what it does not like, and than, to add insult to injury, we are seeing people here that can actually support such a blatant blashpemy of values.

    I dont know which is worse.
  • Security Policy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aaron_ds (711489) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:34PM (#17349156)
    Sounds like the government's policy is security through obscurity. We all know the end result of that mantra.
  • by gadzook33 (740455) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:35PM (#17349168)
    I won't argue that damage isn't sometimes done by organizations like the New York Times. However, you need to understand that we pay a price for these freedoms. It is not always the case that just because some degree of damage is done, it implies the Times were wrong to publish! Take it from someone who has worked in the domain of federal government his entire life: Usually the damage is not as grave as the government would make it out to be. More often than not I say air on the side of caution with respect to civil liberties. It is insufficient to say that this or that is damaging to national security. The second you start censoring certain things, rest assured someone will abuse that. It goes without saying. Do I think ex-employees of areas like the White House need to have their publications reviewed? Eh, I suppose so. But ultimately, if the government is doing something wrong and the only way the public finds out about it is through a newspaper, I say power to that newspaper.
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:35PM (#17349170) Homepage

    A system with proper checks and balances would allow the article to be published if either review board approved it, rather than both.

    Anyway, this sort of crap is exactly why I refuse to work on anything that requires a security clearance.

  • by jahudabudy (714731) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:36PM (#17349176)
    The Real Problem is that the New York Times insists on publishing again and again secrets that ultimately end up damaging the U.S.

    And the point is that there is a large difference between damaging the U.S., and politically damaging the current administration. If revealing to the public what the administration is doing (note, not what the military or CIA or FBI etc, but the White House administration) is somehow damaging to the US, then maybe the fault doesn't lie with the people that revealed the actions, but the actions themselves. There should be only a few specific areas that the public can not know what the government is doing in their name.

    Discussion and arguments of policy is fine and it should be discussed in a fair, open, and rational way.
    I submit that when the New York Times, or most other media outlets, publish information, the discussion they present is anything but fair and rational, and since they often give only token space to opposing viewpoints, it is not very open either.


    And this provides a rationale for preventing them from presenting their view?

    One thing these people need to understand is that their right to publish these things is guaranteed by the U.S Government. Not the U.N. not by the UE, or anyone else. When they publish information that causes harm to the U.S. in their zeal in pursing their partisan agenda, they are actually weakening the very institution that guarantees their rights.

    Again, it is very debatable whether the NYT publishes information that harms the U.S., or whether it merely causes political harm to the current administration. There is not much question that when representatives of the US government seek to deny these rights "guaranteed by the U.S. government", they are actually weakening the very institution they swore to uphold. I definitely know which one I find more troubling.
  • by troll -1 (956834) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:40PM (#17349212)
    It just is what it looks like, the Bush regime trying to silence legimite criticism in the media.

    Er, no. It looks like a bunch of blank lines. This article is only mildly critical compared to the thousands of others out there that are downright scathing. You think Bush came along and blanked out a few lines just because the authors criticized him?
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:47PM (#17349254)
    YouTube is the new defender of Freedom in the USofA.
  • Next time, RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcSecond (534786) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:52PM (#17349286)
    Because if you *had* RTFA, you would know that every single redaction consisted of information already publicized, in several cases by members of the White House administration. The discussion of the article even links to citations where that VERY SAME INFORMATION is available, non-redact-stylee.

    So really, what is the end effect of this censorship? To draw attention to both the attitude of Bush & Co., while simultaneously providing the curious with the information that they weren't supposed to know.

    This administration must have lead in their water. I have never seen such ham-handed, short-sighted, and just plain dumb policy. Kind of like a class of Special Ed students who have read Machiavelli and think they know how to run the world.
  • by NineNine (235196) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:02PM (#17349354)
    The law only allows classification of information related to national security, and that's not something the President is legally above reproach on.

    That's complete and utter horse shit. The Administration has added countless things to the list of "top secret" documents that have absolutely NOTHING to do with national security. I don't have time to document right now, but feel free to look. These days, EVERYTHING that the government does is related to "National Security"
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:36PM (#17349508) Journal
    A system with proper checks and balances would allow the article to be published if either review board approved it, rather than both.
    If you add up enough un-classified details, you can end up with a "big picture" that would be considered classified information.

    Don't forget, between unclassified & secret, there's a "confidential" designation. The CIA may have said "fine, there is no classified information" while the White House may have said "hold on, this isn't secret, but we think it should remain confidential."
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:57PM (#17349600) Homepage Journal
    Raw Story has published its analysis of the probable original version [rawstory.com] of the redacted op-ed:
    RAW STORY has examined these sources and has attempted to connect the previously published materials to the redacted paragraphs in the op-ed. What the information reveals is a series of events in which US-Iran dialogue broke down. In the aftermath of 9/11, the cooperative spirit around the world sparked by America's victimhood encouraged Iran to collaborate with the United States in its effort to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the goodwill that might have been sustained by those early negotiations was undermined by a series of disputes between the US and Iran.

    [...]
  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @05:10PM (#17349668)
    No, I haven't. Perhaps you could provide some smidgen of evidence?
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @07:09PM (#17350216) Journal
    this should have only been decided by a federal magistrate.

    That would be the case if the author hadn't signed a contract that said otherwise.

    -jcr
  • by gadzook33 (740455) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @08:10PM (#17350494)
    This is like arguing that because the president of Paraguay read the New York Times he caused the diminishing of America in the world stage. It goes something like this: The Administration does something stupid -> The New York Times reports on it -> The rest of the world reads it -> America diminishes. You look at this and decide that the NYT's reporting led to the diminishing? You should run for congress.
  • by networkBoy (774728) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @09:34PM (#17350840) Homepage Journal
    "A system with proper checks and balances would allow the article to be published if either review board approved it, rather than both."

    Wrong.
    Each review board is privy to information the other is not. CIA may not know FBI details, Oval office won't know CIA details to maintain plausable denial.
    -nB
  • Re:Next time, RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsotha (720379) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:10AM (#17351434)

    I guess I would be more sympathetic to these folks if the CIA hadn't conducted a six year campaign of leaks to undermine the president. I worked for Uncle Sam. When you do anything connected with the military you sign away your right to discuss it. Ever. There's nothing here that has anything to do with the first amendment.

    And if you think the administration is fascist you should probably crack a history book and actually try to understand the meaning of the words you're writing. If Bush was really a fascist you wouldn't be reading this, since you'd be in a shallow mass grave somewhere. Are you so disconnected from reality?

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @03:07PM (#17354948)
    Just like our public institutions have managed to sustain the impression of WWII as "the good war", where we were fighting real evil, the administration sees the chance to frame bombing Iran as "the good war" of Bush. Iran is making it very easy for them.

    Um ... what exactly wasn't "evil" about the Nazi and Japanese war machines? Pointless, unrestrained brutality is one manifestation of evil, one that has cost the lives of billions of people throughout history. Such brutality was the Nazi hallmark, and their erstwhile ally Japan was no better. To claim that Allied efforts in World War II were somehow tainted or misguided is insane: as a matter of fact, the U.S. tried very hard to ignore what was happening in Europe. When England asked for our help, our response was to come up with "Lend Lease", hoping that the Brits could handle Germany by themselves. They couldn't, and that delay cost a lot of lives, when you get right down to it. Had we put paid to Hitler before he got moving World War II might have amounted to little more than the first Gulf War. The arguably even-more-brutal Japanese military regime was a perfect partner for Germany at the time, but they might not have gone to war had we not let Germany go as far as it did before doing anything about it.

    So far as any war effort can be considered "good", I'd say that World War II was one of them. Ask the French how they felt about us when we moved into Paris. Ask the British how they felt when our men and war materiel started arriving at their ports. I understand your desire to provide valid criticism of the current Administration, but your comment demeans the thousands of Allied soldiers that died putting real evil back in the bottle, and the millions of U.S. citizens that worked hard to make it possible.
  • by Flendon (857337) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @03:43PM (#17355156) Homepage Journal

    ... because there have not been crimes committed in the USA related to Iran and terrorism.
    I'm all for a good conspiracy theory, but yours fails the logic test. One only has to consider that at the current time there is an ongoing terror plot by Iran being conducted entirely within the United States. You only consider past tense, not present in your claim. Being entirely within the US the case is no longer international, despite the fact that the players are international, and would be handled by the FBI, not the CIA. Under your own description this would fall under an open investigation for the FBI which merits secrecy. It could be a cover up of something, but you're reaching for straws claiming that we are going to fake an attack from Iran.
  • by Copid (137416) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @06:10PM (#17355912)
    After the battle of Midway, some dumbass editor in the midwest, can't remember which, reported that the key to winning was the breaking of the Japanese code.
    You can't seriously be suggesting that pointing out that our government was doing blatantly evil things and completely mishandling prisoners is analogous to leaking critical wartime intelligence, are you? Here's the difference: I *want* my government to break the enemy's codes and keep the fact that they've done it a secret. I *don't* want my government rounding up people, secretly torturing them, and generall acting like some backward bananna republic dictatorship. If they do the former, keep it secret. If they do the latter, blow the whistle on them.

    Think about it. Every Administration makes mistakes. Many things they do can be misinterpreted by reporters and editors than have shown by emprical evidence to be not so bright. Regardless, they should all think...what good will come of this being published in this time of war? Will this help our effort to WIN? If not, then take a little responsibility and make some of that shared sacrafice they all keep whining about and DON'T PUBLISH!
    Sometimes, when the government is doing evil things, they need to be called on it. I propose a simple litmus test. What kind of damage is caused by relasing information? If it causes embarrassment to our leadership and a general change in perception of our leadership abroad, that's not a material screw up that can be blamed on the media. It's the fault of whoever sanctioned the embarrassing activity. On the other hand, if they're leaking information that materially changes the balance of power in combat, it should be kept quiet.

    So here's an interesting question: Should this guy [nytimes.com] be kept quiet?

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