Beltway journalists in traditional media outlets like the New York Times must find it tiresome to take dictation for the Bush administration day after day. Concurring Opinions blogmeister Daniel Solove has taken pity on them and crafted a template (or stationery, in word processing terms) for use by journalists like NYT’s stenographers to write their stories about the latest government snooping activity.
Here it is:
Under a top secret program initiated by the Bush Administration after the Sept. 11 attacks, the [insert name of agency (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.)] have been gathering a vast database of [insert type of records] involving United States citizens.
“This program is a vital tool in the fight against terrorism,” [insert name of Bush Administration official] said. “Without it, we would dangerously unsafe, and the terrorists would have probably killed you and every other American citizen.” The Bush Administration stated that the revelation of this program has severely compromised national security.
“This program is a threat to privacy and civil liberties,” [insert name of privacy advocate] said. But [insert name of spokesperson for Bush Administration] said: “This is a very limited program. It only contains detailed records about every American citizen. That’s all. It does not compromise civil liberties. We have a series of procedures in place to protect liberty.”
“We’re not trolling through the personal data of Americans,” Bush said, “we’re just looking at all of their records.”
The [insert name of statute] regulates [insert type of record] and typically requires a [insert type of court order]. Although the [insert name of agency] did not obtain a [insert type of court order], the Bush Administration contends that the progam is “totally legal.” According to the Attorney General, “we can [do whatever we did/want to do]. The program is part of the President’s emergency war powers.” (Concurring Opinions; hat tip Boingboing)
Here’s an additional suggestion. Why even bother. Just label the templates. Then they can say, Template A or B or C and I won’t have to spend any time reading it.