New York Times Fails Reading Comprehension

The New York Times, awash in criticism of its own agenda, has come out attacking the Bush Doctrine:

It is only now, nearly five years after Sept. 11, that the full picture of the Bush administration’s response to the terror attacks is becoming clear. Much of it, we can see now, had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power.
Over and over again, the same pattern emerges: Given a choice between following the rules or carving out some unprecedented executive power, the White House always shrugged off the legal constraints. Even when the only challenge was to get required approval from an ever-cooperative Congress, the president and his staff preferred to go it alone. While no one questions the determination of the White House to fight terrorism, the methods this administration has used to do it have been shaped by another, perverse determination: never to consult, never to ask and always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch.

The agenda has been perfectly clear, and stated many times, that the United States is at war with the terrorists that attack us and those who harbor, aid, or abet them. Time and time again the terrorists have made good use of their status—that region between individuals and states primarily occupied by non-government organizations—to exploit loopholes and gaps in our security. We have police to combat individuals and small groups. We have the military to combat states that conduct war against us. Global NGOs whose resources outstrip the police and who have no country or territory to attack or occupy are a somewhat more shadowy foe.

The President and his staff recognize that terrorist organizations are not the honorable opponents than those states that signed the Geneva Accords, and that terrorists captured on the battlefield will attack us again if released. Normal police rules are somewhat insufficient to the task. The armed forces are perfectly capable of destroying any target we give them, anywhere in the world. The trick is finding them. Rare indeed is finding such a locus, and there is intense value in watching terrorists prepare so we can find those who harbor, aid, and abet them.

That many individuals fall into the widely cast net of observation and investigation is obvious. These folks have associated with terrorists, some of them knowingly. In times of war past Americans gave up some liberty to actively root out real and credible threats here within our country. Sometimes the actions overreached (for example, the questionable Japanese, German, Italian, and other concentration camps in World War II). Sometimes we have underreached (tales abound of spies not caught in our wartime history).

The New York Times, however, considers increased observation and pursuit of questionable groups a deliberate, malignant grab for executive power. With such paranoia it's no wonder they consider the recent leaks of state secrets brave acts of dissent. One can sense their shock that many Americans consider their publication of working—but secret—systems that were catching terrorists treason in a time of war.

Apparently the New York Times is not at war. To them the war would be over if Osama Bin Laden comes to trial. Believing that it is more important to catch Bin Laden than it is to destroy his terrorist network—my interpretation of calling him out by name in the opening paragraph—is akin to thinking that he is a lone serial mass murder and not one of many architects and planners of war.

This is a distinct change from the “why do they hate us?” tone from a few years ago. The NYT seems to have decided they hate us, too. The tone has changed to obstruction and disruption, not of terrorists, but of the allied efforts to conduct the war Osama Bin Laden escalated five years ago.

And if that is not harboring, aiding, and abetting the terrorists, I'm not sure what is.

Josh Poulson

Posted Sunday, Jul 16 2006 10:46 AM

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There are 4 comments on this entry.

The Whitehouse's ideological arrogance and stubborn tunnel vision has repeatedly led down paths that have proven foolish. They have squandered what domestic moral authority they had and have fatally damaged America's position internationally.

The George W. Whitehouse has actually done America's enemies work for them. Does special-casing the constitution to give them an even freer hand really seem wise? When you strip away the red state/blue state posturing that's all the New York Times is really asking.


Posted Monday, Jul 17 2006 11:05 PM

It's hard to imagine a presidency with more squandered moral authority than the Clintonian one, and not just because of lying under oath, but also the focus on gays in the military we he first got to office and cutting and running from Somalia.

I also don't buy the damaged international position. Whether or not we are well-liked, we are respected far more. There are those who feel we throw around our weight, perhaps, but everyone knows we're serious about tracking down and killing terrorists. We have some really strong friends, in fact Tony Blair seems friendlier with Bush than Clinton.

Finally, I certainly don't buy that the implementation Bush Doctrine has really gotten us closer to Sharia law. It may have limited some freedoms and made us more aware that intelligence gathering may lead to watching citizens, but for the most part it's been far better than any other country at war that I can recall.

Make no mistake: we're at war. That distinction drives many of the decisions.

Josh Poulson

Posted Tuesday, Jul 18 2006 06:24 AM

Although Clinton is off-topic, and the whole "Monica" thing is a red herring, he certainly had his hits and misses as a leader. I'd be surprised though if George W's opinion is sought out once he leaves office.

Until recently America's international policies were taken seriously. This administration's policies are regarded as hypocritical and self-serving and only heeded when there is a payoff or imminent risk of force. "Serious about tracking down and killing terrorists"? That's a laugher. Bush is quite happy to work with any number of dubious characters.

I think the Bush Doctrine is actually leading America towards Baathism/Stalinism, not Sharia. As Wendell Phillips said 150 years ago, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Like the President or loathe him, Americans should be watching him carefully, not anxiously justifying every new authority.


Posted Tuesday, Jul 18 2006 08:01 AM

Considered hypocritical and self-serving by whom? The New York Times? I don't know if the opinion of America has really changed all that much since, say, the Reagan years.

The Clintonian presidency is relevant when it comes to talking about the war on terror (and I never said a word about Monica). Clinton was there for several years of terrorist attacks and his response and its effects should be compared to the response to and effects of current terrorist attacks. What I see is a steady increase in complexity and lethality.

While Stalinism is certainly a concern in a presidency that has never vetoed anything (including ridiculous spending bills), but isn't Stalinism the end result of any populist government that loses sight of the principle that cultural maturity should lead to more freedom, not less? I've always maintained “There ought to be a law…” is the cry of tyrants.

Josh Poulson

Posted Tuesday, Jul 18 2006 08:19 AM

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