NYT Editors Hammer Obama on NSA Issue, Then Pull Back

by Greg Pollowitz

Hacks. Via Politico:

The New York Times editorial board has quietly changed the language in the most widely cited line from Thursday’s scathing editorial about the Obama administration’s surveillance of U.S. citizens.

The line — “The administration has now lost all credibility” — was changed Thursday night to read, “The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.” No correction or explanatory note was appended.

“The change was for clarity’s sake,” Andrew Rosenthal, the Times editorial page editor, told POLITICO on Friday morning. “It was clear from the context of the editorial that the issue of credibility related to this subject and the final edit of the piece strengthened that point.”

I don’t get what was “strengthened,” however. Here is a larger excerpt from the editorial, with my highlight of their change:

Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.

The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.

To what issue is the Times referring? Transparency and accountability? National security? Domestic surveillance? Executive power? 

What’s more frustrating is the Times doesn’t bother to let their readers know a change was made. The Public Editor should question why an editorial of this magnitude was published and edited without a note to the readers.


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