The NYT’s “Heads Up” Meeting with the FBI on Wikileaks

The NYT has a very long profile on their interactions with Wikileaks, about which I will have more to say.

But I wanted to point to this meeting, which Bill Keller describes as the NYT’s effort to give the government a “heads up” on the diplomatic cables.

Because of the range of the material and the very nature of diplomacy, the embassy cables were bound to be more explosive than the War Logs. Dean Baquet, our Washington bureau chief, gave the White House an early warning on Nov. 19. The following Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, Baquet and two colleagues were invited to a windowless room at the State Department, where they encountered an unsmiling crowd. Representatives from the White House, the State Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the C.I.A., the Defense Intelligence Agency, the F.B.I. and the Pentagon gathered around a conference table. Others, who never identified themselves, lined the walls. A solitary note-taker tapped away on a computer. [my emphasis]

It’s bad enough that–as Keller also reports–the NYT has no secure communications.

But is it also the habit of the NYT to meet with the government–including the FBI–on upcoming stories? For all the NYT’s insistence, with Judy Miller, that they would not be an accomplice to a government investigation, what the hell were they doing meeting with the FBI before they published a story?

  1. skdadl says:

    Should I put my rude comments about how “eccentric” Bill Keller and David Leigh and Nick Davies and Alan Rusbridger seem to me here, or should I save them for the later discussion? Gosh, but these guys annoy me.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      I was wondering how the NYT survives without any geeks. His description of Assange fits about half the people in my office.

      • skdadl says:

        Every once in a while, when I have a free moment, I have been fragging the guys at the Guardian, ever since Nick Davies’ ( @ByNickDavies ) pulp fiction piece on Assange. A lot of what they are doing is clearly driven by personal animus, and then there are the jealousy and ignorance parts. I’m not so surprised by the NYT, but the Guardian guys have me incensed. What is the matter with them? They are playing with lives.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The Guardian does have a love-hate relationship with Assange and, per Glenn Greenwald this week, Bradley Manning (based on the piece he critiques about Manning’s solitary confinement “like” conditions of detention).

  2. lakeeffectsnow says:

    this is precisely why Julian Assange did not release this batch of cables to the nyt and the nyt had to get them from the guardian ( which itself has done a crappy job on this ).

    the nyt is basically an extension of the usg and i would never ever leak a gottdamn thing to them for this very reason – they would narc you out in a heartbeat.

    the state of the amerikan corporate media complex is beyond scary – it is directly wired into the usg and the elite.

    wait until the powers that be take over control of the world wide web / internet – we will never ever see stuff like Wikileaks ever again.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Times has no “secure communications”? A chilling thought for us if not for Bill Keller. We rely on our First Amendment speech rights, individual and public, every day: to comment on this blog, to comment in public, in evaluating what we read or hear in public media. The lede should have been Keller’s acknowledgement that his reporters know nothing our government doesn’t know, and that he seems happy or at least content with that. Once upon a time, I thought the Bourne Ultimatum was fantasy.

    • skdadl says:

      Well, yes, except we also have an ordained deacon among us (William of Ockham), so we’re ok, even if the First Amendment goes down. ;)

  4. lakeeffectsnow says:

    and if the nyt spent a fraction of the time doing the job it is supposed to be doing ( investigating / covering / reporting / watchdogging ) instead of smearing Julian Assange ( remember burns’ smear hit piece ? ) and attacking Wikileaks ( carrying water for the usg ) and worrying about its stock price we might actually have a newspaper and it might earn back some respect.

    Risen had to threaten the nyt to get it to report anything back during the nightmare cheney / bush junta era !!!

    and it sat on a blockbuster story for over a year so as not to influence one of the those elections ( 2004 ? ) !!!!!!!!!!!

    the nyt has sold out to the usg and does its bidding.

  5. deep harm says:

    I wrote Mr. Keller in 2004 to complain about his paper’s policies that recklessly endangered government whistleblowers, including me, and then, having put the whistleblowers in very risky positions, refused to publish the disclosures. Keller did not have the decency even to respond to my letter. This occurred in the same timeframe that the Times and Washington Post later admitted to meeting with Bush administration officials to discuss, in advance, disclosures they planned to publish but afterward withheld. Months later, I received information indicating that the government was listening in on conversations with reporters, perhaps tipped off by the papers’ inexplicable policy of consulting with the government before publishing stories. I have no doubt that Julian Assange had good reason to be upset with the Times and other newspapers with similar policies.

    • emptywheel says:


      There are multiple layers of paranoia in keller’s piece:

      1) He admits the NYT has NO secure communications. If I were a source considering a leak, NYT would be the last place I’d go.

      2) He suggests email from reporters was being hacked, but doesn’t imagine it might be the govt.

      3) He suggests–knowing more details about the illegal wiretapping our country does–that commnuications might be monitored in Pakistan, but doesn’t draw the connection tehre w/ OUR govt.

  6. MadDog says:

    When Bill Keller said this, I nearly laughed:

    …When I left New York for two weeks to visit bureaus in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where we assume that communications may be monitored…

    And he thinks Julian Assange is paranoid?

  7. MadDog says:

    I wonder if Bill Keller’s “NYT does Wikileaks” splash today had anything to do with making a few bucks with this:

    “Open Secrets” is a must-read field guide to how

    information and power are wielded today.

    “Open Secrets” is the definitive chronicle of the WikiLeaks documents’ release and the controversy that ensued. It brings together all of the classified diplomatic cables and war logs posted on The Times’s Web site, along with 27 new cables selected for this volume — and substantial analyses of what the documents mean and why they matter. In the introduction, Times executive editor Bill Keller takes readers behind the scenes to explain how and why The Times published the documents.

    Learn more about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a profile by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Times reporter John F. Burns. There are also essays on Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private suspected of being WikiLeaks’s source, and on what the story has revealed about American diplomacy and government secrecy.

    Both a legal and technological thriller, as well as a primer on world politics, “Open Secrets” should be of special interest to anyone interested in one of the most compelling news stories of our day.

    Buy The E-Book Today

  8. YYSyd says:

    If New York Times feels so comfortable about writing about the conspiracy, it must be that there is no longer any danger at all for Assange being prosecuted by the U.S. While it doesn’t rule out predator drones, the legal pursuit must be pretty much dead.

    OT but Excel, while an incredibly convenient tool has limitations that can not be overcome with just processor crunching power. The limitation is not understanding what it’s not suited for. The other limitation being fooled into thinking that the ease and speed of use makes up for stupidity. I’m beginning to suspect that runaway Excel use is a prime factor in the financial meltdown. Such an easy tool to create financial instruments and sort of keep records (until they’re rewritten or lost) seem to be prime suspect in causing explosion of crap that created the meltdown.

  9. fatster says:

    Oh, this is great:

    THE WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS BLOG for Wednesday, Day 60

    Greg Mitchell

    “When I was editor of Editor & Publisher, he would not talk to us for years — and we were the so-called “Bible of the Newspaper Industry” — because of our strong criticism of Judy Miller, both for her Iraq reporting and her involvement in the Plame case.  ”

    And there’s more. LINK.