Eavesdropping and the Election: An Answer on the Question of Timing - New York Times
Eavesdropping and the Election: An Answer on the Question of Timing - New York Times: "THE NEW YORK TIMES’S Dec. 16 article that disclosed the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping has led to an important public debate about the once-secret program. And the decision to write about the program in the face of White House pressure deserved even more praise than I gave it in a January column, which focused on the paper’s inadequate explanation of why it had “delayed publication for a year.”
The article, written by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, has been honored with a Pulitzer and other journalistic prizes. But contradictory post-publication comments by Times editors and others about just how long the article was held have left me increasingly concerned about one key question: Did The Times mislead readers by stating that any delay in publication came after the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election?
In my January column, in which I refused to rely on anonymous sources, I noted that I was left “puzzled” by the election question. But I have now learned from Bill Keller, the executive editor, that The Times delayed publication of drafts of the eavesdropping article before the 2004 election. This revelation confirms what anonymous sources had told other publications such as The Los Angeles Times and The New York Observer in December.
A number of readers critical of the Bush administration have remained particularly suspicious of the article’s assertion that the publication delay dated back only “a year” to Dec. 16, 2004. They contend that pre-election disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping could have changed the outcome of the election.
Since the Times article appeared, I have grown increasingly intrigued by changes in the way the delay has been described in the paper and in comments by Mr. Keller. A background paragraph in a follow-up article on Dec. 31 said, “The administration first learned that The New York Times had obtained information about the secret eavesdropping program more than a year ago.” Mr. Keller also began using the “more than a year” language."