Things We Knew A Year Ago

Bill Keller talks about how the Times knew a year ago that Bush had authorized domestic spying and held off based on assurances from the Bush administration that everything was gonna be okay.

A year ago.

It staggers me.

Not because I think there are never situations where holding off a story is warranted for national security reasons, to keep troops from coming to harm, things like that.


This is the BUSH ADMINISTRATION we’re talking about.

The idea that Bush or his people were credible a year ago and somehow are not now, which Keller seems to be hinting at in his statements, is ludicrous.

A year ago, we knew that Bush had greatly expanded the power of the executive.

A year ago, we knew that Bush’s justice department considered itself immune from judicial “second guessing.”

A year ago, we knew Bush and his people were capable of lying about Iraq’s weapons capabilities.

A year ago, we knew Bush and his people were capable of lying about outing a CIA agent.

A year ago, we knew Bush had been re-elected by the slimmest of margins after a campaign filled with slime, sleaze, false statements, misstatements, prevarications and outright lies, and that the election had centered on national security.

A year ago, we knew Bush could justify anything in the name of national security.

We knew this a year ago, Mr. Keller. We knew because we read articles, in some cases, in your own goddamn newspaper. We knew these guys were hellbent on doing anything and everything they ever wanted to do regardless of legality, all in the name of fighting terrorism. And while some of us might have been swayed by the argument that some of these measures (the secret searches, the roving wiretaps) were necessary for our safety, most of us took a look at Bush’s terrorism prosecution track record and said whatever you’re doing, it’s not working out so great.

We knew this a year ago.

We knew nothing out of these people’s mouths could be believed. What’s changed in that year? Has Bush become less power-hungry and incompetent? Have his subordinates become any more likely to go off half-cocked at anybody who questions them? Has the war become any more winnable, or justified? Has anything changed, other than that Bush has dropped in the polls enough that criticizing him is now about as risky as shooting the wounded?

And understand, it’s not that I’m surprised. After all, the NYT as an institution has allowed itself to be used for administration purposes for a while now.

We knew that a year ago, too.