Senator John Kerry, who’s considered a possible next secretary of state, has criticized the New York Times for its recent exposés about the president’s counterterrorism efforts. Politico reports:
“I personally think there is a serious question whether or not that served our interest and whether the public had to know,” Kerry, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, told reporters. “To me it was such a nitty-gritty fundamental national security issue. And I don’t see how the public interest is well served by it. I do see how other interests outside the United States are well served by it.”
The Massachusetts Democrat’s comments were prompted by a question from CNN’s Ted Barrett, who asked whether the Times should have held back the story “for national security reasons.”
After answering the question and walking away, Kerry chased down Barrett down the hallway to clarify his remarks: “With the Pentagon Papers, the country was being lied to, you can understand the need to know. On this, I don’t think a need-to-know standard gets met.” Earlier, Kerry said he was “disturbed” by the leaking of classified information cited in the Times story, saying it endangers U.S. national security and “begs retaliation” from America’s enemies. The chairman said he couldn’t understand how an American citizen could leak classified information that could potentially put the country at risk.
The Times’s managing editor has responded to Kerry’s criticisms, arguing that the government agreed to the stories:
“Our job is to report issues in the public interest, and this piece certainly meets that standard,” Dean Baquet, the Times managing editor, said in a statement to POLITICO. “As always with sensitive stories, we described the piece to the government before publication. No one suggested we not publish. There was a request to omit some highly technical details. We complied with the request after concluding it was not a significant part of the piece.”
Baquet reiterates a point made earlier by David Sanger, the author of the articles, who said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation that the Obama administration “had to make some decisions” about what they would discuss.