By Greg Palast
Cutely buried in the 18th paragraph in a story about Alberto Gonzales on Sunday was a slyly-worded updated confession by the New York Times that, in 2004, the Bush Administration leaned on its editors to spike a story about illegal invasions of citizens’ private records (“data mining”). The Times editors smothered the story. They finally ran it – a year later – after Bush was safely re-elected.
As a journalist, this makes me want to throw up.
For two reasons: First, while The Times was covering up Bush’s KGB-style data-mining operation, the Palast team was revealing its secrets. We published confidential FBI memos detailing horrific schemes for illegal spying using Bush’s favored contractor, a company called ChoicePoint Inc.
The second reason The Times ‘confession’ makes me ill: While the publishers at the Paper of Record were counting their millions, the Palast Investigative Fund was slowly going broke.
Well, we’ve made it: Last Friday, the main-stream US media, through the venerable PBS program ‘NOW’, finally broadcast our reportage on the “caging” of voters, a story we first broke 3 years ago. BEFORE the 2004 election.
We’ve made it in another way: Friday was also the day I was informed that the Palast Investigative Fund was dead broke, technically bankrupt, with way less than zero in the account.
Bluntly: if we don’t get some help, and fast, we’re sunk. We are throwing staff overboard and halting some operations while we seek funds to keep afloat.
I’m pleading with you to do three things:
1. Watch PBS ‘NOW’ on voter ‘caging’. Then, if you think our work is important…
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(For $250, I’ll sign and send a whole BOX of Raw Journalism: 2 books: Armed Madhouse and Impeach the President, 2 DVDs: Big Easy to Big Empty and American Blackout, the Audio Book Armed Madhouse and the Spoken Word CD Live from the Armed Madhouse). Or simply make an open no-gift donation for a sum of your choice. (All options and many other signed items can be found at the Palast Investigative Fund Homepage.)
3. Pass on this note, post it and make certain your group and friends sign on to GregPalast.com, read our work, and support it.
I do not take one dime of pay from the Fund. 100% of your donation goes to our investigators, cameramen and women, operating costs and equipment. Yes, we get fees from BBC, Vanity Fair and Harper’s but that doesn’t cover the bills. Not even close.
If we can get your support, we can follow-up on our investigation of The Scheme to Swipe 2008. We’re finding that ‘caging’ is the tip of the fraud-berg. With your help, we can also take on the Vultures, the bond speculators who are preying on Africa’s poorest.
We are lucky to have prestigious outlets for our work, but the research is funded wholly by citizens like you, not by media moguls. And the content proves it. Our much-praised investigation in New Orleans was financed entirely by a score of selfless donors.
It’s up to you. Real investigative reporting is a money-burning task. And a team effort. Please support our team by donating at least $100 to the not-for-profit Investigative Fund.
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Pick up the New York Times each day and for your $500 a year, you get all the news they find fit to print. Or donate a fraction of that for your signed copy of Armed Madhouse or The Best Democracy Money Can Buy for the real story on the prosecutor firings, caging and all the news that gives them fits.
A further note on the The Crimes of the The Times
If I single out The New York Times, it’s because they are the BEST America has to offer, Lord help us. If you haven’t lost your lunch yet, read what the Sunday Times said in paragraph 18 . Only now does The Times tell us:
“The first known assertion by administration officials that there had been no serious disagreement within the government about the legality of the N.S.A. [data mining] program came in talks with New York Times editors in 2004. IN AN EFFORT TO PERSUADE THE EDITORS NOT TO DISCLOSE THE EAVESDROPPING PROGRAM, SENIOR OFFICIALS REPEATEDLY CITED THE LACK OF DISSENT AS EVIDENCE OF THE PROGRAM’S LAWFULNESS.”
In other words, the Bush enforcers told The Times (and apparently its editors accepted without question) that there was no major dissent at the top levels of government over this Spies-R-Us scheme. That is, The Times blindly swallowed the very assertion that Senators now term, ‘perjury.’
The Times waited until the election had passed and billions of records were illegally “mined.” And they got the Pulitzer for it. Congrats!
In the 2005 Pulitzer article I re-read this tantalizing tidbit:
“Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.”
Really?? Did they mean “useful to John Conyers”?
I called The Times editor Bill Keller with two questions:
Question 1. What ELSE haven’t you told us at Bush’s behest?
But the key is Question 2. WHICH “senior officials” successfully spiked your report?
Whether you call them “senior officials” or “Bush bullies,” those who muscle news reporters are not “sources” whose identities deserve protection.
If you’re afraid, Mr. Keller, just tell me their initials. AG? KR?
Maybe I’ll get an answer. In a year.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse (2007) and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2004).
For more information, go to www.GregPalast.com