Monday, May 30, 2005

Philip P. Quincannon

Tuesday's edition of the New York Times includes an exhaustive article that could only have been printed after New York Times v. United States of America (1971), in which SCOTUS decided that the Nixon Administration violated the First Amendment when it attempted to prevent the NYTimes and WaPo from printing materials belonging to a classified Defense Department study regarding the history of United States activities in Vietnam.
For those unfamiliar with the case, here's a quick recap:
Nixon argued that prior restraint was necessary to protect national security, but the court held that that the government did not overcome the "heavy presumption against" prior restraint of the press in this case. Justices Black and Douglas argued that the vague word "security" should not be used "to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment," while Justice Brennan reasoned that since publication would not cause an inevitable, direct, and immediate event imperiling the safety of American forces, prior restraint was unjustified.
Well, in "C.I.A. Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights" the Times publishes a piece (which, for the first time that I can remember, is written "By The New York Times" and only later goes on to detail who reported and wrote the article-I wonder whether this will be a new policy on major stories or just this one?) which basically blows the cover on Aero Contractors Ltd., an Agency-controlled airline used to shuttle Agency officials, troops, materiel, and suspected terrorists around the world when "national policy makers don't want 'U.S. government' written all over it." This definitely required months of research, many FOIA requests etc and promises to dominate the news on Tuesday. It reads like a good book and I even found myself thinking "Wow, I would have loved to have gone snooping around for this stuff!" But the ending is a bit arrogant; the Times seems to stick it to the Agency:

Aero's much-larger ancestor, Air America, was closed down in 1976 just as the United States Senate's Church Committee issued a mixed report on the value of the C.I.A.'s use of proprietary companies. The committee questioned whether the nation would ever again be involved in covert wars. One comment appears prescient.

When one C.I.A. official told the committee that a new air proprietary should be created only if "we have a chance at keeping it secret that it is C.I.A.," Lawrence R. Houston, then agency's general counsel, objected.

In the aviation industry, said Mr. Houston, who died in 1995, "everybody knows what everybody is doing, and something new coming along is immediately the focus of a thousand eyes and prying questions."

He concluded: "I don't think you can do a real cover operation."

See, haha, The Times found out the true story and blew your cover!

Really, really immature, don't you think?

Now, it's clear that the intent of the Times is to highlight human rights abuses i.e. renditions by the U.S. government with the help of this covert company. And while they probably wouldn't openly compare Gitmo to Soviet-era gulags like Amnesty International's State of Human Rights did last week, this is their way of getting in on the action. I'm just wondering why it's necessary to go into such detail to embarass the C.I.A. and elaborate on how the company works, where it's based, where it's gone, how many employees it has etc.

This paragraph is notable:
Flight logs show a C.I.A. plane left Dulles within 48 hours of the capture of several Al Qaeda leaders, flying to airports near the place of arrest. They included Abu Zubaida, a close aide to Osama bin Laden, captured on March 28, 2002; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who helped plan 9/11 from Hamburg, Germany, on Sept. 10, 2002; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashri, the Qaeda operational chief in the Persian Gulf region, on Nov. 8, 2002; and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, on March 1, 2003.
That should put to rest all the whispers from the left that this administration captures terrorists and announces it when it's beneficial for them.

On Monday the following articles appeared above the fold of A1:
See a link there? They're anti-Iraq, pro-women, and about European politics. Basically, a good liberal newspaper. What gets relegated to the bottom you ask? Oh, nothing important. Just "2 Men, In New York And Florida, Are Charged In Qaeda Conspiracy." Last I checked this was the New York Times, wasn't it? Shouldn't an article discussing the arrest of a possible terrorist in New York be above a discussion of the first female to race in the Indy 500!?! SHE DIDN'T EVEN WIN!!!

The Times obviously has an agenda and while we don't want the press to be limited or restrained, isn't this sort of not helpful (to put it mildly) in the successful execution and prosecution of the War on Terror? What a paper for the day after Memorial Day!

For those still wondering who Philip P. Quincannon is (after whom this post is entitled): why not just go, read the article, and find out for yourself?


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