Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Watchdogs of the Free Press

The good folks at Behind the Homefront cordially invite you to put this in your pipe, and smoke it:

After counterterrorism official Richard A. Clarke's top secret Jan. 25, 2001 White House memorandum was declassified last week, it was disseminated to ... one person: Barbara Elias, a researcher from the National Security Council, the Congressional Quarterly Web site reported on Friday.

[Note: this is a typo on BTH's part: Ms. Elias is actually from the invaluable National Security Archive at GWU]

Why was Elias the sole recipient? Despite the fact that gallons of ink have been spilled over the memorandum, she was the only person who ever bothered to actually make an FOI Act request for it.
This is one of those stories that I had to read several times before I could feel the proper amount of outrage. Not because it's complicated, God knows, but because it's so completely astonishing that my brain couldn't initially process it. After all those weeks of sober debate over Richard Clarke (i.e., conflating him with the host of "American Bandstand," and making childish insinuations about his sex life), not a single journalist saw fit to make a FOIA request for his January 25th memorandum?

It seems impossible...and yet, it also seems all too possible.

You can read the memorandum here.


Anonymous said...

I suppose we are reaching outrage saturation. It's like the meter is so over taxed that it's finally broken!

And I'm amazed that this memo, which it seems to me I was so clued into just around the time Condi RIce was evading testifying for the 9/11 cover er commision, this is that memo? ANd nobody in the 4th estate got round to requesting a copy of it.

Where are the press hounds of years gone by? The 4th estate has become a gilded cage for showbirds I suppose.

Aquaria said...

Hey, they can't even find Atrios online without their four year olds along to show them how it's done. What do you expect?

You just know that when their hairdressers are blow-drying their hair that they warn people not to stand on either side of the media whores so that the dust coming from the wind tunnel in their heads doesn't choke anybody.

joseph said...

Not the first time, unfortunately. The ACLU has been showing old school journalism how it's done. The first retort from the Fourth Estate is usually something about how long and potentially expensive the process is, but that doesn't wash in the face of examples like the one you mention here. By the way, the Brits have found what appears to be a much better way to handle this sort of thing.