The Final Shot of Three Days of the Condor – NSA Considered

Yeah, um, remember in 2004 when The New York Times sat on the NSA Wiretapping story until AFTER the most important election in generations? Remember why?  SPOILER ALERT: Because the criminal exposed in the story asked them to. He was afraid the story would cost him the election if his crimes were revealed. Then, after he won reelection, the White House let it publish. After all, they were in for four more years. Safe and sound. It really is kind of that simple.

As The Times tried to explain it away:

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

So the bulk of this story could have been published earlier. The story was about how the President personally broke the law 30 times. If the story does not unduly threaten national security NOW, and it clearly doesn’t, it wouldn’t have a year ago. The Bush White House just stalled The Times. Like chumps.

Why did the NYT agree to hold the story? In what context did administration officials urge the NYT not to publish, and who did the urging?

The eventual story explains:

Before the 2004 election, the official said, some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president.

So some anonymous Bush Administration appointee told the NYT that somebody at the N.S.A. was worried he might lose his job (spying on Americans) if John Kerry won the election. Again, President Bush is guilty of breaking the law 30 times but the Democrats lacked subpoena power. After the election, the Attorney General remained a Bush guy. Therefore, no crimes got investigated.

Why would the NYT help criminals stay out of jail? What’s the word for that action? “Accessory,” I think.

Once again, American filmmakers in the 1970s nailed it. Presented for your consideration, Sydney Pollack’s 1975 film Three Days of The Condor. In this clip, CIA Analyst Joseph Turner (Robert Redford) tells CIA Coup Member J. Higgins (Cliff Robertson) that he has blown the whistle on a secret cabal within the CIA which is manufacturing evidence and plotting to start a war in Iran in order to seize the oil in the region. What a crazy plot! Yeah, so, in this final scene, the two walk through Times Square so as to make tails and bugging difficult.

[Turner and Higgins stop in front of The New York Times.] Turner: I told ’em a story. You play games; I told ’em a story.
Higgins: Oh, you… you poor, dumb son of a bitch. You’ve done more damage than you know.
Turner: I hope so. [Turns to leave] Higgins: Hey Turner! How do you know they’ll print it? You can take a walk…but how far if they don’t print it?
Turner: They’ll print it.
Higgins: How do you know?

Now we know. The Times wouldn’t print it. Repeat: The Times would protect the powerful criminals.

And now we also know how far Turner would get on a walk in the woods.


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