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Sunday, January 29, 2006
Getting It Wrong: The NSA Surveillance Program
Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 29 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard takes a whack at the New York Times for an editorial attacking the Bush-approved NSA surveillance program, claiming that the paper "prosecuted its case, and acted as both judge and jury to seal a conviction." Sheppard rebuts the article point-by-point; let's take a look at some of Sheppard's points, shall we?

-- Sheppard claims "the Old Grey Lady criminally decided to out" the surveillance program, which conflicts with his concluding claim criticizing the Times for "convicting people in its publication before they’ve been charged with a crime."

-- Sheppard claims: "The reality is that what the New York Times has reported up to this point has been called into serious question by administration officials including the deputy director of National Intelligence and the former director of the NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden, just this past Monday. As such, the Times here is introducing its own opinions as fact." But Sheppard has no basis on which to authoritatively claim that what Bush administration officials such as Hayden are telling is the truth; he has merely assumed, as has his fellow NewsMax posters, that because the Bush administration is Republican, it's telling the truth, and that because the Times is purportedly liberal, it must be lying.

-- In response to the Times' claim that the surveillance violates the FISA law, Sheppard states that it "is thoroughly ignoring previous administrations that have made exactly the opposite case, including the Clinton administration in Congressional hearings in 1994." That's a false claim. While the hearings Sheppard cites do assert a claim that some spying was legal under FISA, it was made illegal in 1995.

-- Sheppard claims that "there was Congressional oversight over this program inasmuch as high-ranking members of Congress from both sides of the aisle were apprised of the program’s creation, and regularly apprised of its on-going activities." Not entirely true; the members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have said that the administration likely did not inform them of the operation to the extent required by law, or about the program's full extent.

And as far as "convicting people in its publication before they’ve been charged with a crime" goes, Sheppard might want to thumb through the MRC archives and count how many times its writers have done just that to Bill Clinton.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:29 PM EST

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