The hardworking staff finally got around to finishing New York Times executive editor Bill Keller’s 8000-word wet kiss to himself about his handling of the WikiLeaks documents (and manhandling of Julian Assange, apparently) over the past six months.
Along the way, Keller talked about a couple of other controversial Times reports:
The first, which was published in 2005 and won a Pulitzer Prize, revealed that the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on domestic phone conversations and e-mail without the legal courtesy of a warrant. The other, published in 2006, described a vast Treasury Departmentprogram to screen international banking records.
(Note the helpful link to the Pulitzer.)
Keller talked about the process of dealing with the White House over such delicate material, and hearkened back to 2005:
I have vivid memories of sitting in the Oval Office as President George W. Bush tried to persuade me and the paper’s publisher to withhold the eavesdropping story, saying that if we published it, we should share the blame for the next terrorist attack. We were unconvinced by his argument and published the story . . .
Yeah, after having held it for a year at the White House’s request.
But that doesn’t make as neat – or as tough – a story, does it?