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24 December 2005


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I have been in conversation the last day or so with folks who are of a mindset that is far more disturbed by the publication of this kind of story than by the reported facts of what the government has been up to. For example, these people are far more concerned about the supposed damage to national security caused by the NSA stories in the Times (or by the leaks) than they are about the fact that the NSA has been illegally gathering intelligence on U.S. persons. How do intelligence professionals go about assessing damage in real terms? What's the difference between bad PR or political embarrassment or bad press vs. actual damage to national security? Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Hannah K. O'Luthon

This post raises a touchy question: to what extent do intelligence agencies also influence U.S. news media? "Al-Hurra" is lock, stock, and barrel U.S. government controlled, it would be interesting to give a percentage rating of such "independent" news providers as NYTimes, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, FoxNews, etc. Presumably the "intelligence input" is more subtly dosed, but clearly present nontheless. Operation Mockingbird lives on.


How many revelations have we had this year of bought-and-paid-for reporting? And today's Wash Post reports that Bush not only called Sulzberger and Keller (NYTimes) but also Downie (Post) to the Oval Office to pressure them not to run damaging stories, ostensibly for national security reasons. They all did what Bush asked to some extent and also agreed that the conversations would be off the record, which in itself is disturbing. Gets back to my question: how do intelligence professionals assess national security damage and separate that from political damage / bad PR / bad press? I assume there are empirical methods.

Serving Patriot


Your last comment (re: how we look to the Egyptians) is absolutely right on - and applicable region wide (perhaps globally).

Is it any surprise that any moderate, western (or US) leaning political groups in Egypt would flee in horror from the USAID grant givers? No wonder Ayman Nour cringes everytime our government calls for his release - it sours any chance for him to gain political power in Egypt. Is it any wonder that the Ikwan rises from it's dormant grave?

Ruled by an aging autocrat with no clear succession, Egypt is headed toward massive change as surely as the Soviets were in the 1980s.

Who will be the Egyptian Gorbachev? Sad that we have absolutely no idea (or even care fro tham matter).



Have you read "The Limits of Freedom," which concludes "Al Hurra should be closed down at once"?

W. Patrick Lang


I'll drink to that. pl

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