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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Playing Politics With The News Again: The Times Waits Until After The Election To Reveal Secret Operations Against Al Qaeda Leaders

The New York Times has revealed that since 2004 United States special forces and the Central Intelligence Agency have been carrying out secret attacks on Al Qaeda throughout the world, including in Pakistan. According to the article, the US military "used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere...." Recounted in the article are attempts, aborted in some cases because of suspect intelligence, to capture or kill the most senior Al Qaeda leaders.

Many will ask, justifiably, why The Times feels compelled, time and again, to reveal the highly classified details of this country's war on terror knowing that such disclosure will have negative consequences for our country's success. A secondary, but important question, is why The Times waited until after the election to reveal that our country, on orders approved by the much-maligned President Bush, had conducted these attacks on Pakistani soil. While The Times had reported public information on some attacks in Pakistan, The Times never previously revealed the extent of these efforts, and the fact that the efforts were approved by President Bush. The answer to the question of the timing of the revelation is that once again, The Times tailored its news coverage to support Barack Obama's campaign.

Remember that one of Obama's criticisms of the Bush administration, and by implication John McCain, was that the US had not conducted raids into Pakistan in an attempt to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. Obama gave a widely reported speech in July 2007, in which he laid out his policy which was that "[i]f we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will." This position was repeated throughout the campaign. Yet The Times remained silent. The Times maintained its secrecy as Obama hammered the Bush administration over the failure to take action in Pakistan, and used that hammer to beat John McCain.

Is it coincidence that The Times chose to reveal this information only after the election? Hardly plausible. The Times probably never should have made this revelation, but having decided to do so, The Times once again played politics with the news by withholding information that would damage, even if so slightly, Obama's campaign. The Times is doubly duplicitous in this affair; once for revealing classified information which damages our country's safety, and once again for timing such disclosure to aid its political candidate of choice.


  1. Personally, I'd be more interested in how the Times seems to consistently acquire classified information. I think most people understand that the Times, and many other media outlets, are more interested in helping their party than reporting the news, so the issue of where this information is coming from strikes me as much more important than speculation on the Times' motives in releasing it.

  2. I agree with Cortillaen, did the Times have this information before the election and even before Barack Obama, a U.S. Senator had it?
    This revelation raises a LOT of issues:
    1) Did B.O. purposefully attack Bush and McCain for something he KNEW to be false but knew also that it would never be revealed as it was classified? This would make him an extremely dishonest, ruthless and dangerous person. (I hope he did NOT know) If He did not know this information it raises the 2nd question:
    2) How could the Times have found out information that 1 or both U.S. Senators did not have access to?