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NY Times to black out portions of op-ed
December 21, 2006 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Blacked out text in your newspaper. The White House has attempted to heavily censor parts of a proposed op-ed about Iran. So tomorrow, the NYT will run the op-ed with black redaction marks, and provide a list of non-classified sources for the exact material the administration claims is sensitive.
posted by mulligan (76 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
And we'll see a spate of right-wingers and neo-cons decrying the publication of the editorial, claiming that the New York Times is once again on the side of the 'terrurists' and a danger to American FreedomTM.
posted by ericb at 3:13 PM on December 21, 2006


Things were much easier for the NYT when it was playing stenographer to Karl Rove and beating the drums of war back in '03.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:14 PM on December 21, 2006


sorry, where's the link to the news about tomorrow's publication?
posted by digaman at 3:19 PM on December 21, 2006


The CIA reviewed the article and cleared it for publication, but the White House put the brakes on it, saying it contained classified information that the CIA missed.

So once again the CIA and the White House disagree on the classification status of something.

You know what? I'm gonna go with the CIA on this one, they have a history of being pretty good at dealing with classified material (Ok, not a perfect history, but a damn site better than that of the White House.)
posted by quin at 3:20 PM on December 21, 2006


You know, it's sad that newspapers not taking orders from the white house is noteworthy.
posted by odinsdream at 3:20 PM on December 21, 2006


Since when was the White House so concerned about the release of classified information?
posted by Bromius at 3:21 PM on December 21, 2006


"...the Times will instruct readers where they can find the omitted information in other (unclassified) publications -- like, for instance, in Leverett's paper on the same topic called "Dealing with Tehran," published through the Century Foundation."

His paper is also available here.
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on December 21, 2006


i'm outraged.







no, really, i am.








totally.
posted by quonsar at 3:21 PM on December 21, 2006


This will wendell.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:22 PM on December 21, 2006


And we'll see a spate of right-wingers and neo-cons decrying the publication of the editorial, claiming that the New York Times is once again on the side of the 'terrurists' and a danger to American FreedomTM.

I should hope not. While I couldn't find the article online from the links, this looks like Bushco has gone a bit far. I am a mostly right-winger (you know, half the stuff on this site drives me crazy), but I really think this is a bit much.

Does anyone have a link to the article (would it be online?), or I just missing the obvious page here?
posted by niles at 3:23 PM on December 21, 2006


sorry, where's the link to the news about tomorrow's publication?

Tomorrow and Today: Saudi Palace Politics & Flynt Leverett Stirs Congress
"For those up at 3 am when the morning newspapers are uploaded to the web, rush to the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Unless lawyers or other news get in the way, some very important pieces will be up.

The first in the New York Times will be a very cool op-ed that I can't say more about right now."
posted by ericb at 3:24 PM on December 21, 2006


odinsdream: "You know, it's sad that newspapers not taking orders from the white house is noteworthy."

I'd say the noteworthy parts here are 1) the white house ordering a newspaper to redact parts of something, 2) that something being being an op-ed column, not a breaking-news article, 3) the newspaper choosing to point out the specific redactions, 4) and showing readers the redacted information by quoting it from non-classified sources.

All of which would have been just as noteworthy twenty, thirty, or fifty years ago.
posted by Plutor at 3:24 PM on December 21, 2006


Or it's not published yet....I thought that was just the list.
posted by niles at 3:25 PM on December 21, 2006


Or it's not published yet....I thought that was just the list.

That's right. The op-ed is scheduled to appear in tomorrow's (Friday's) New York Times.

Earlier this week ...
Iran Article Is Blocked Amid Dispute on Cause

Critic Accuses Bush of Silencing Dissent

Analysis: Gag Claim on Iran
posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on December 21, 2006



Since when was the White House so concerned about the release of classified information?



If this could only be said at a press conference in the midst of a heated melee.
posted by gcbv at 3:30 PM on December 21, 2006


Wait, why can the Century foundation publish the info without fear of retribution, while the Times is prohibited?
posted by jourman2 at 3:32 PM on December 21, 2006


Huh. Sounds like a good way to tease some info out of the adminstration. Some former official should just write up an Op-Ed full of WAGs and complete conjecture about what's going on, and then we can see what gets blacked out in the printed edition.

Kinda like:
NYT: "There were no WMDs! Never were!"
Snow: [No response, twiddles thumbs.]
NYT: "There were no ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda!"
Snow: [Whistles "Stardust," looks around.]
NYT: "Cheney eats baby toes!"
Snow: "That's outrageous!"
NYT: "Gotcha, Bitch!"
posted by krippledkonscious at 3:33 PM on December 21, 2006 [2 favorites]


[Off-topic, but related, kinda, in a long-stretch sorta way -- US To Declassify Secrets After 25 Years.]
posted by ericb at 3:35 PM on December 21, 2006


It would be awesome if the online version of tomorrow's article had the omitted parts encased in 'spoiler tags' like a lot of tv show fan forums do.
posted by premiumpolar at 3:39 PM on December 21, 2006


Correction: 'Registration free' access to the NYTimes article cited above: Iran Article Is Blocked Amid Dispute on Cause.
posted by ericb at 3:41 PM on December 21, 2006


Harry Potter and the [Redacted by White House]
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:42 PM on December 21, 2006 [7 favorites]


Know what would be funny? If the web version of the Op-Ed column read like this:
Iraq is sliding into civil war according to the following documents: <span style="background:black">CIA research group ...
That would be funny.
posted by ardgedee at 3:46 PM on December 21, 2006


I can't help but wonder how much information is classified simply because it would justifiably outrage the population and cause chaos, and how much is classified to conceal criminal activity on the part of government officials.
posted by mullingitover at 3:46 PM on December 21, 2006


That so much looks like nonsense. Ignorance of past facts by the "censors" could explain their attempt to censor again, or more likely they didn't want to have the piece published on NYT.

All I learned is that the WH can't phone call CIA's Publication Review Board.
posted by elpapacito at 3:52 PM on December 21, 2006


jourman2: Wait, why can the Century foundation publish the info without fear of retribution, while the Times is prohibited?

Because a lot of people read the Times. Not so many people are likely to read the Century Foundation's report.
posted by russilwvong at 4:02 PM on December 21, 2006


jourman2: Wait, why can the Century foundation publish the info without fear of retribution, while the Times is prohibited?

russilwvong: Because a lot of people read the Times. Not so many people are likely to read the Century Foundation's report.


Well now they will
posted by jourman2 at 4:04 PM on December 21, 2006


"I can't help but wonder how much information is classified simply because it would justifiably outrage the population and cause chaos, and how much is classified to conceal criminal activity on the part of government officials."

Those don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Yeah. This pisses me off. Yeah. I saw Leverett on CSPAN earlier today. Fairly level headed cat I thought.

To paraphrase an old joke:
Politics is a game with objectives and no rules.
Analysis is a game with rules and no objectives.
The Bush Administration is a game whose object is to bring rules into the subjective.

When the last is applied to "theology" I typically don't think of it as much of a pejorative as I mean it to be here.
Just pissing all over our best men. Not to mention the foundational principles. And for something so petty as a NYT op ed piece. Unbelievable.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:18 PM on December 21, 2006


I, for one, am not shocked. History has shown that there are alot of "things-that-we-think-you-are-better-off-not-knowing".
posted by winks007 at 4:31 PM on December 21, 2006


And for something so petty as a NYT op ed piece. Unbelievable.

Truly! I should think any self-respecting right-winger would give two pisses about the FRONT page of the NYT, much less bother slumming around the Op-Ed area.

All this kind of move does is lend credence to your opposition's stance, and give the tin-foiled set reason to dance. I've never seen anything as mismanaged as this administration's handling of... well, just about everything. I liked it better when I used my own imagination to think up conspiracies. This is like reading a bad Michael Crichton political thriller and the villain's name is "Evil McKilledthedudes."
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:34 PM on December 21, 2006 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that "Evil McKilledthedudes" was a Dickens character. Or a McDonalds sandwich. One of those two.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:41 PM on December 21, 2006


"Evil McKilledthedudes" is a sockpuppet waiting to happen.
posted by brundlefly at 4:45 PM on December 21, 2006


The Times could, ya know, grow a backbone and just print the damned article.
posted by genghis at 4:57 PM on December 21, 2006


Nah, the blacked-out text is way better for getting people interested.
posted by damehex at 5:04 PM on December 21, 2006


You gotta love the ACCESSDENIED tag. Good for the Times for doing this. I'm not complaining.
posted by ageispolis at 5:11 PM on December 21, 2006


The CIA reviewed the article and cleared it for publication, but the White House put the brakes on it, saying it contained classified information that the CIA missed.

Because of course you should trust politically-endebted, boot-licking lackeys to know better than people whose career it is to analyze and determine threat. Intel stovepiping -- basically, politically-motivated skipping of steps in the intel chain -- is what got this Administration into Iraq. These morons have evidently learned nothing. How many thousands of American soldiers need to die before they admit to being wrong about something? We're not even counting non-Americans, because evidently that's not much of a preoccupation.
posted by clevershark at 5:16 PM on December 21, 2006


ericb writes "And we'll see a spate of right-wingers and neo-cons decrying the publication of the editorial, claiming that the New York Times is once again on the side of the 'terrurists' and a danger to American FreedomTM."

When do these idiots ever *not* do that anyway?
posted by clevershark at 5:17 PM on December 21, 2006


As ageispolis said: Definitely good for the Times - ethically, politically and commercially. This whole situation is basically the same thing as when Comedy Central didn't show Muhammad on South Park. Times gets the win, Bush Administration looks nutless. Or guilty. Actually, both.
posted by krippledkonscious at 5:24 PM on December 21, 2006


This seems more of an effort to make the press look like a villain, than it is to keep this information away from the public.

BushCo has to know that anything blacked out is only going to be MORE intensely scrutinized than it would have been if they'd just let it go.
posted by JWright at 5:36 PM on December 21, 2006


First the AP lost Iraq, now this. Traitors.
posted by homunculus at 5:37 PM on December 21, 2006


The Times could, ya know, grow a backbone and just print the damned article.

Nah, the blacked-out text is way better for getting people interested.


Precisely. The blackout plus the informative sidebar is like flipping a great big middle finger at the White House, in a far more visible way than simply printing the column. It draws attention and lets more people know about the story behind the column.

It also adds a "Heh heh! You got PWNED!" angle that makes the paper look like the gutsy David to Bush's Goliath, which is a role journalists like to envision themselves in. Here's hoping they find they actually enjoy playing it.
posted by EarBucket at 5:46 PM on December 21, 2006


Haven't we seen this kind of [Expletive Deleted] from the White House in previous administrations? Oh, right, these are the same [Expletive Deleted] that were working there back then too.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:49 PM on December 21, 2006


Nah, the blacked-out text is way better for getting people interested.

Are you sure it's the NYT working the strings on that front? Maybe Bush wants us to see the inflamitory report but couldn't just come right out and hand it over without creating a serious incident (and/or sounding like A-jad's ranting).
posted by Pollomacho at 5:53 PM on December 21, 2006


The bit about this that I don't quite understand how the White House has this kind of power to begin with. Could someone more familiar with the law that gives the President the power to block publication of anything in civilian newspapers please point me in the right direction?
posted by 1adam12 at 6:46 PM on December 21, 2006


I suggest you read the article, 1adam12.

As former officials, Mr. Leverett and Ms. Mann are obligated to permit the government to review writings for publication to ensure that secrets are not inadvertently disclosed. Such reviews are limited to searches for classified information, not policy questions.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:55 PM on December 21, 2006


They've pulled this trick before. It only took 25 years to get to the truth. And they were wrong about the subversive parrot, too. Given their credibility, it's most likely they're wrong about this as well.
posted by crispynubbins at 7:09 PM on December 21, 2006


I honestly avoid political posts here in Metafilter, but this one got my attention. This scares me. Nuff said.
posted by BillsR100 at 7:54 PM on December 21, 2006


Pollomacho: thanks for the quote. I did in fact read the article, but I'm interested in the actual legal background. I was hoping someone could point me to a law code citation, so that I could ask my civil procedure prof about it.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:26 PM on December 21, 2006


aaaaaaaaaaaand here it is
posted by delmoi at 9:22 PM on December 21, 2006


The bit about this that I don't quite understand how the White House has this kind of power to begin with. Could someone more familiar with the law that gives the President the power to block publication of anything in civilian newspapers please point me in the right direction?

Actually I'm quite sure that the NYT could publish the piece if they had their hands on a manuscript already. If there was a 'window' between when the article was cleared by the CIA and when it was "uncleared" by the whitehouse, and the guy gave it to the NYT during that window, he wouldn't be breaking the law.

Once the NYT has it, they can do whatever they want to with it.

On the other hand, if the white house 'uncleared' the document before it was sent to the NYT, then the guy would be breaking the law if he even *sent* the article to the NYT. Still, the NYT could still publish it.

So, did the NYT ever get an original copy? I was under the impression that they did.

IMO this is mostly just a gimmic, but an effective on.
posted by delmoi at 9:44 PM on December 21, 2006


It appears that the letters have all been changed to x'es, but word length has been retained.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:12 PM on December 21, 2006


The problem with Tony Snow's argument that a democratic government can censor news based on national security concerns, not policy concerns, is that the Bush administration's entire policy is centered around calling everything and anything a goddamn "national security concern" if it might be embarassing to the Party.

When we have a hawkish administration using the press, NY Times included, to warm up the public for reinstating the draft so that we can go to war with Iran, let anyone who claims the Bush administration is above fascist intentions take this as a fair warning.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:19 PM on December 21, 2006


Why do I hate America?
posted by blacklite at 12:16 AM on December 22, 2006


i am outraged. i used to work for xxxxxx and when my team was in xxxxxxxxx, we xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx x xxxx and when i was subpoenaed before the grand jury, i testified that xxx xxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, and then x xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxx and somehow the media got ahold of it and i ended up covered with xxxx.
posted by bruce at 12:16 AM on December 22, 2006


Excuse me? Dear? I'll have you know the Supreme Court has ROUNDLY rejected prior restrain.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:23 AM on December 22, 2006


Considering that citations have been provided and that word length may have been maintained, I expect it won't be long before someone posts an uncensored version of this op-ed.

How long has it been since an article in a newspaper has been blacked out in such a manner?
posted by chrominance at 4:28 AM on December 22, 2006


xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx x xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx x xx x x xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xx xxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxx xx
posted by R. Mutt at 5:52 AM on December 22, 2006


It's been so good to have the adults in charge these past 6 years, don't you agree?
You children mind your mouths or they'll be washed out with soap.
posted by nofundy at 6:11 AM on December 22, 2006


Anyone for a game of Mad Libs?
posted by lalochezia at 7:34 AM on December 22, 2006


The redacted Iran op-ed revealed.
posted by ericb at 9:31 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


awesome thanks ericb.

caught leverett on cspan last night - he's the real deal.
posted by specialk420 at 9:52 AM on December 22, 2006


CIA Chief Evil McKilledthedudes weekly report: “Mr. President the reptilians from Sirius are calling us about the monthly water shipment. Apparently some red ‘lectroids have escaped the Nevada holding facility at area 51 as well.
Hitler’s brain deep within the hollow earth has again been directing undead cyborgs against the the Sasquatch people so they will have to continue to wear their stealth fields. Last November’s time travel back to the JFK trip through Dallas resulted in a success, he was assassinated and history has been re-written. We’ve blamed it on several clones named Oswald but we’re working with LSD to brainwash someone into killing RFK, and prevent Cuba from nuclear -”
Bush: “That’s great, uh, Earl, but we’ve got some majer modern problms here. Hne hne hne.”
McKilledthedudes: “Yes, sir. Is it the Iranian hyperCrichtoniansuperweapon or the Iraqi Clanciandoomsday -”
Bush: “Naw, naw, see. What’s happened is, see, someone from yer organism has written a paper, see, in the NEW YORK Timesssuh. Op-ed. About Iran-U.S. relationsss.”
McKilledthedudes (not following): “Yes, sir. We approved it.”
Bush: “Hne hne hne. I know, see. But you didn’t look at the actual wordsss.”
McKilledthedudes: “Sir?”
Bush: “It looks like uh, hne, a reglr column. But chew look at the wordsss. Hne. Gulbuddin. Hekmatyar. Kitab al-Azif. Hezbollah. Look at the syntaxsssh. And how the words are yewsd. The intonashonsss. Abdul Alhazred.”
McKilledthedudes (scans): “My God! He’s encoded a spell for...! Sir, without the constant massive burning of world’s supply of oil the Great Old Ones would wake and return! The sacrifice of Princess Diana to the Great Wyrm will have been in vein!”
Bush: “Git right on it. Micky. Yew know how tricky those Timesh people can be.”
posted by Smedleyman at 12:15 PM on December 22, 2006


More links in this updated post (now deleted.)
posted by homunculus at 7:43 PM on December 22, 2006


In other news: AT&T and lawyers for media groups including Wired News spar in a San Francisco courtroom over whether whistle-blower documents in the NSA spy case should be made public.
posted by homunculus at 7:44 PM on December 22, 2006


Thanks ericb, I was wondering if anyone had done that yet...
posted by joedharma at 8:01 PM on December 22, 2006


all i want for xmas is an <img src="">...
posted by Jeremy at 8:38 PM on December 22, 2006


*sigh*
posted by Talez at 3:53 AM on December 23, 2006


From the FPP that will probably be deleted as a double:

This was after the "White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions."

Where have I been? I always thought I was in tune with how things worked. But this is the first I have even heard of a "normal prepublication review process" for the press.

Please... someone tell me I am not alone in this. I feel like I am in an episode of The Twilight Zone. The last living person to find out something the rest of the world has always known.

I need a Long Island Iced Tea.
posted by The Deej at 9:10 AM on December 23, 2006


I printed this out and read it very carefully. I never would have known it existed if not for the controversy.
posted by stbalbach at 9:12 AM on December 23, 2006


this is the first I have even heard of a "normal prepublication review process" for the press.

see Pollomacho's comment.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:31 AM on December 23, 2006


Again, the "normal prepublication review process" probably refers to reviews of materials published by former administration officials rather than a blanket prepublication review process. IE If you worked for the CIA, you have to clear what your write with them first. In this case the CIA didn't redact anything, but passed it to the White House for review (presumably since it contained references to the White House), at which point redaction kicked in for whatever reason. Normal stuff.
posted by unSane at 9:33 AM on December 23, 2006


Thanks for the clarification... but even in that context I was not aware of it.
posted by The Deej at 9:36 AM on December 23, 2006


Even with an understanding of what's going on, seeing those black bars gives me the chills. And while it's great that the Times is electing to publicize that it has been censored and draw attention to that insidious fact, it sets a precedent. The next time it happens it will be just as infuriating, but less shocking. Eventually when it happens people will simply shrug and wait, assuming the information will be uncovered sooner or later. This is a victory for censorship and government secrecy no matter how you spin it.
posted by hermitosis at 9:40 AM on December 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


I agree this sounds like the best thing that could've happened to Leverett's OpEd. How many people do you think have heard about this OpEd now compared to this American Propsepct story from about six months ago or had even ever heard of the Centry Foundation?

I guess the reason good triumphs over evil is that evil is so damn stupid.

As for the "prepublication review process". This is part of the contract you sign when you join the CIA. From what Leverett claims, it's not that the CIA passed this to the Whitehouse for review, he says:

My understanding is that the White House staffers who have injected themselves into this process are working for Elliott Abrams and Megan O'Sullivan, both politically appointed deputies to President Bush's National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley.
posted by betaray at 10:35 AM on December 23, 2006


Oops forgot my source. That quote is from here.
posted by betaray at 10:38 AM on December 23, 2006


Misinformer of the Year: ABC
posted by homunculus at 9:08 PM on December 24, 2006


CIA panel blocks book by outed agent Valerie Plame
posted by homunculus at 1:16 PM on January 8, 2007


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