Wuxtry, wuxtry, Bush broke law! Oh?

Power Line has an exchange between John Hinderaker and NY Timesman Eric Lichtblau, co-author of NSA-surveillance stories, that is a textbook-quality example of how to question a questionable story.  Hinderaker cites legal chapter and verse:

The November 2002 decision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, in Sealed Case No. 02-001, where the court said:

"The Truong court [United States v. Truong Dinh Hung, 4th Cir. 1980], as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. *** We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."

After several exchanges in which Lichtblau cited “the end of our original story last Friday [which] quotes from the FISA appellate decision that you cite” and the story’s discussion of “the debate over whether the program was legal.”

Hinderaker effectively asks why the Times hangs its story’s "scoop” quality on blind quotes from unnamed officials who had it wrong “while not pointing [that] out.”  

I don't think that a partial sentence from one of the controlling decisions, buried at the end of a long article and not repeated in subsequent articles, removes the incorrect impression you convey that the NSA program is, in all likelihood, illegal.

As the uber-blogger Instapundit would say, there’s more.  It’s textbook example, I say of how a newspaper overreaches.

No comments: