Effect Measure

Time savers for journalists and readers

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.


  1. #1 Ana
    June 26, 2006

    Ha ha.

    I can t resist —

    Randomly select 3 items and one optional item (for the last paragraph, which you may skip in function of length constraints.) Then write story. After 3 weeks, you will receive a fresh list of items. /use Paypal button bottom left (big arrow)/ :

    Partial troop withdrawal planned in Iraq

    Insurgents set back by Zarqawi capture

    20,000 troops to deploy to Iraq in two months

    Iraq s bloodiest day yet

    Malaki pushes for peace, amnesty positive

    38 schoolchildren kidnapped in Iraq, mothers grieve

    Ramadi insurgents soon defeated; town cleaned up

    Fallujah 60% destroyed – reconstruction awaits

    Iraqi oil back up over 2.5 m. barrels a day

    School year ends well at /insert/: All students present pass

    WMD found in Iraq ineffective, says expert

    Oil woes in Iraq, Imports rise

  2. #2 MtnGeek
    June 26, 2006

    Ironically, right after I read the template, I read this news story on Yahoo. PERFECT FIT.


  3. #3 penguinzee@hotmail.com
    June 28, 2006

    I wonder if this could also be done for all the congressional debates-they sure seem to sound the same after awhile…

    Franc (penguinzee)

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