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The Horse's Mouth
A blog about the reporting of politics -- and the politics of reporting. By Greg Sargent

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A spokesperson for the Secret Service has told me that the New York Times article providing details about the homes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is not a security threat, as many conservative commentators have been trying to argue.

Relatedly, Rumsfeld's spokesperson also confirmed to me that his office gave a Times photographer permission to photograph his home.

Over the weekend, a host of right-wing web sites were aflame with allegations that this story in the Times was a major threat to the security of Cheney and Rumsfeld because it provided details and a picture of their houses. Some even suggested the paper was deliberately endangering their security. Michelle Malkin suggested that Bill Keller had published the story "because al Qaeda already must have an inkling that Rumsfeld and Cheney live somewhere in the greater Washington, D.C. area." Others posted the personal information of the photographer who took the picture. And there was much, much more vitriol and bloodthirsty howling of all sorts.

But I just got through talking with Hollen Wheeler, director of public affairs for Rumsfeld's office. She confirmed what Glenn Greenwald has reported -- that the photographer, Linda Spillers, had been granted permission to photograph Rumsfeld's house by Rumsfeld himself.

"She got approval to take a picture," Wheeler told me. "She called, we said fine, go take the picture. And that's it."

Wheeler also added of the picture: "It's already out in the public domain. I'm a little confused about why this has caused such an uproar." Wheeler declined to directly discuss the question of his security, saying that it was something they don't discuss as a rule. But she said: "Did it affect the Secretary's schedule in any way? No. Does it affect in any way how he does his business? No."

I also checked in with Jonathan Cherry, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, which guards Cheney. His first response was not direct. It was this:

As you can imagine, we would prefer less information than more in that regard. However, we take necessary steps to provide security wherever one of our protectees lives, and do our best to be as unobtrusive as possible to neighbors and the general public.

Then, when I asked him directly whether the story posed a security threat, Cherry emailed:

No, it is not a threat.

So there you have it. That should settle this, right?

--Greg Sargent


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Once again, Greg completely ignores the blogging manual and engages in actual journalism. For shame, for shame...

Egg, meet face. Face, meet egg.

Dude - When the travel section of the New York Times gets permission from the Secretary of Defense to take pictures of his house, the terrorists have already won.

Good luck getting any wingnuts to offer corrections.

I am still extremely puzzled why this story caused somebody to fire up the Great Noise Machine. My totally unfounded speculation (and it would be irresponsible to speculate) is that the New York Times is currently holding *another* story - one with more teeth. So the Administration and the VRWC are shooting some warning shots, first with the Swift story, and now with this. Note how the opposing narrative changed from "irresponsible" to "treasonous" and to threats to personal safety.

Once again, wingnuts prove they know little about *actual* security and risk exposure. Half-cocked and half-measures propelled by loud noisemaking seems to be their 13-year old's understanding of the thing.

Next, we get Malki-rocke-witz bleating, "yeah, sure--but did she have permission to shoot the mailbox-cam?!?"

Given the fact that it has now been confirmed that the story in the NYT was not, never was, and never wil be a threat to the safety of Rumsfeld and/or Cheney, I have to wonder - with all the attention the Right put into pushing this story, riling up the freaks into writing all about this non-story, how many people, notwithstanding Rumsfeld and Cheney, but employees of the Times, the photographer who had permission to take the photograph of Rummy's house, as well as the children who some suggested should be hung as bait for sexual predators, they may have very possibly put at risk themselves.

Had they used (had?) some common sense and done just a wee little bit of homework, this never would have become the issue they made it out to be.

Which it wasn't.

Just so we're clear.

Touche (alas no accent)!

A further thought: how large is the overlap between those who pushed this nonsense and those who jumped to denounce the NYT for its story about US snooping on financial transactions? If it's as large as I think it is, one lesson to draw is that the judgement of these people is no more to be trusted about the one story than the other, or indeed about anything at all.

Phyllybits: Alt+0233 = the accent you wanted. (on the numeric pad, btw). Like this: "" see?

Anyhoo... Greg, excellent work/slogging, as expected, but you know, as do we all -- 'truthiness' will make NO difference to these enemies of the state. THEY are the 'terriss' from within, THEY are the enemy. THEY are the "agin' us' entities the small bush referred to, albeit unwittingly.

Their eve-of-Independence Day timing for such spittle ooze is it's own condemnation, but they won't ever recognize it.

First response:

As you can imagine, we would prefer less information than more in that regard.

Second response:

No, it is not a threat.

Are your critical thinking skills realy unable to suggest a resolution to that apparent contradiction?

I can think of several.

Dear Anonymous:

Sure. The first statement is speculative. The second is definitive.

In fact, I'd say "no, it is not a threat" is about as definitive as you can get.

The process of whipping these people up into a froth is reaching dangerous levels - and that, I think, is the point. Nobody got hurt this time - but the next time there's some story in the NYT (and it is, pretty much only, the NYT - USA Today, WSJ, even the WaPo don't come in for nearly the level of censure for similar "offenses") that "deserves" a more "serious" response - well, I wouldn't put anything past these people, anymore.

What, in the end, will be too much? I don't know the answer.

I e-mailed Malkin and asked for a retraction, hoping everyone here will do the same.

"I'm a little confused about why this has caused such an uproar."

Plainly, she's unfamiliar with this gang. Maybe she doesn't watch CNN or Fox News.

uh, right. It is no secret in the area. NONE. Everyone sees the helicopters every week, everyone knows where they live there.

If the "terrorists" don't know where their houses are on St. Michaels, they really aren't a threat to begin with.

And Malkin's an idiot. Whoever signs her paycheck needs a mental examination.

The wingnuts have got to be unfathomably stupid to think that a NY Times photographer would have been able to walk up to Dick Cheney's or Donald Rumsfeld's house in broad daylight and shoot pictures without encountering some sort of security patrol. We're talking about the Vice-President and the Secretary of Defense, for christ's sake.

It should have been obvious that the Times had prior clearance.

Dude - When the travel section of the New York Times gets permission from the Secretary of Defense to take pictures of his house, the terrorists have already won.

We're fighting the terrists in St. Michaels so that we don't have to fight them abroad!

OMG! The Times published a picture of the President!!!

I mean, it's like "OK, terrorists, memorize this face--it's your target."

I'll bet they've already discovered the location of the White House through careful study of treasonous publications like the ADC map of DC.

You laugh? Don't underestimate the enemy--they're cunning.

Greg, you have to read Malkin's rambling correction, where she still justifies her argument. Some people just can't admit they were wrong.

But it was never about national security, or whether Cheney and Rumsfeld could now be assassinated by terrorists. It was always about causing a ruckus, feeding red meat to the knuckle draggers, and spreading hatred for liberals and the so-called liberal media.

There is no difference between the flap over the location of administration summer homes and the flap over John Kerry's mention of Cheney's lesbian daughter in one of the 2004 debates, or any other of perhaps thousands of examples of the right wing beating up mercilessly on liberals while the leadership stands by wringing its hands, and sometimes even participating in the condemnation.

Until we start calling them on their TACTICS, as well as their lies, we're not going to get very far in defending our positions.

Carolyn Kay

"Greg, you have to read Malkin's rambling correction, where she still justifies her argument. Some people just can't admit they were wrong.
Posted by: Morse | July 4, 2006 08:08 AM"

No, nobody has to or even should read any of her posts, or visit any of these rightwingnut websites. They are obviously a waste of time. If you visit them then you are encouraging advertisers to market on those sites, which means income for these fascists. It's time for us to PERMANENTLY IGNORE them, as we do any idiot who has nothing substantive or productive to say.

Masturbatory assassination fantasies intact, eh, moonbats?

Always rememeber what Herman Goering said at his Nuremberg trial.

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

This link from the "tolerant" liberals on Democratic Underground

"Minnesota Libra (1000+ posts) Sat Jul-01-06 08:13 AM Response to Original message 11. We can only wish the "Escapes" episode resulted in......... ....Cheney and Rummy's death. We're not quite that lucky though. But yes I find this just a little disturbing that our media is being attacked this way. I don't know how to stop it though. Anyone have any ideas?"

Don't pay any attention to the Secret Service and the Secretary of Defense. Obviously, the wingnuts know more than these fools do.

So, Malkin thinks al-Qaeda has an inkling that two public officials who work in Washington, DC just *might* have a house somewhere in the greater Washington, DC area?

OMG! What a brilliant deduction on AQ's part!

I hear they are also getting dangerously close to figuring out what religion the Pope is.

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