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Time Gives Up on the Truth

The whole Joe Klein affair is another of the things I’m hoping to return to on Monday. But for now, take a look at their "correction."

In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that theHouse Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act(FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillancetargets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, butDemocrats don’t.

Never mind that the entire offending paragraph remains intact:

The Democratic strategy on the FISA legislation in the House is equallyfoolish. There is broad, bipartisan agreement on how to legalize thesurveillance of phone calls and emails of foreign intelligence targets.The basic principle is this: if a suspicious pattern of calls from aterrorist suspect to a U.S. citizen is found, a FISA court warrant isnecessary to monitor those communications. But to safeguard againstcivil-liberty abuses, all records of clearly nontargeted Americans whoreceive emails or phone calls from foreign suspects would be, ineffect, erased. Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the HouseIntelligence Committee’s bipartisan effort and supported a Democraticbill that — Limbaugh is salivating — House Republicans believe wouldrequire the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target’s calls tobe approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect therights of U.S. citizens only. (Democrats dispute this interpretation.)In the lethal shorthand of political advertising, it would giveterrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyondstupid.

Never mind that there are a number of errors, and this "correction" addresses just one.

What does it say that Time, one of the leading news outlets in this country, refuses to try to determine which side is correct in this debate? What does it say that, with the existing bill as the presumed unquestioned arbiter of the debate, they cannot discern truth? What does it say that they continue to refer to human sources–Republicans and Democrats–rather than the text?

I dunno, but I guarantee you, the next time I attend a conference on journalism and blogging, I will take no prisoners.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.