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Posted at 3:54 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Attacking Mukasey, Ridge, Townsend and Giuliani

By Marc Thiessen

The Post has a feature called "Taking Exception," which allows individuals to respond to opinion columns that appear in the paper -- especially when they come under personal criticism in such columns. This is based on the important journalistic principle that readers have the right to hear both sides of the story.

The New York Times apparently does not share The Post's commitment to this principle. Recently, the Times published an op-ed by David Cole, who accused former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani of providing material support for terrorism, because they spoke at a conference in support of the Iranian opposition and urged that the Mujahadin e Khalq ("MEK") be removed from the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Material support for terrorism is a serious charge, and Mukasey, Ridge, Townsend and Giuliani took it seriously. Together, they penned a response explaining why their actions do not constitute material support for terrorism and why they believe the MEK is not a terrorist group. But after submitting it to the Times, they were told that the paper "has a policy of not publishing op-ed articles in response to other op-ed articles."

It would seem that when four former senior officials ask a major newspaper for the opportunity to defend their good names -- especially when their good names were called into question in the pages of said paper -- the editors have an ethical obligation to provide that opportunity. But the Times refused. Eventually, Mukasey, Ridge, Townsend and Giuliani published their response in National Review. It deserves wide circulation. You can read it here yourself.

By Marc Thiessen  | January 14, 2011; 3:54 PM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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The NYT has become a law unto itself...scuse, always has regarded itself as soverign. It has the right to run espionage operations against America, the right to sabotage foreign policy by stealing documents from the American people, the right to murder US intelligence agents by the same process, the right to malign and smear any Republican politician it wants to because, well...they are Republican. It has the right to twist movie reviews, theater reviews, book reviews to fit it's own strange and twist political agenda.

And what is that bizarre twisted agenda; no one is quite sure except that it involves destroying Republican servants of the people, destroying America if America tries to defend itself, supporting enemies of America, any enemies, even those who murder 25% of their country to support a red revolution.

The NYT is not doesn't want to be American, except to require that all US military resources in Afghanistan be diverted for six months to try to find a kidnapped NYT reporter, who was ransomed by NYT anyway. No NYT is the President, Supreme Court, judge and jury of a country called NYT...and God help the poor American who gets in the way of Her Majesty.

Posted by: wjc1va | January 14, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Thiessen, please read the article. All Cole said was that under current law as interpreted by the Roberts court, what they did was illegal. Cole went on to disagree with this decision and why it was wrong. He essentially already defended Mukasey et. al. They didn't even need to do it! Methinks they, too, were perhaps to sensitive to the very rules they helped create.

Posted by: hakusa1 | January 14, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

In a nation of laws, these 4 have broken the law. It matters not whether they support terror (mujahideen AKA holy warrior), until they come off the list the law considers them terrorist. Unlike unwarranted wire taps, the GOP does not control the executive and congress to pass a law absolving them of lawbreaking. Perhaps in the aftermath of tragedy the Dems will forgive them. Time will tell.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 14, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Marc Thiessen, this is a reach.

Mukasey, Ridge, Giuliani, and Townsend (MRGT) didn't come under personal criticism in the Cole piece. In fact their recent defense of the MEK -- which they repeat in the National Review -- is something Cole holds up as admirable and courageous.

I think it is too. I think MRGT are right on the merits of MEK's status, even though MEK is on the list. I think it's risky to do ANYTHING in support of someone on the list precisely because the reach of the "material assistance" law is amorphous and uncertain. Pursuing right in the face of danger is courageous.

Feel free to be snarky about the New York Times; that's a fine old American passtime. But not every article that mentions someone's name is an attack. This one wasn't.

Posted by: WCC123 | January 14, 2011 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Mr Theissen, likely intentionally, misinterprets the NYT article. This should not be a surprise, given Theissen's past writings.

Posted by: jaltman1 | January 14, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh come on...coming from a purveyor of nonsense like thiessen - part and parcel of the contingent willing to villify the current president because he didn't wear a freaking flag pin - this defense is absolutely laughable. "Their good names" - that's a joke, right?

Posted by: JilliB | January 15, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

"The First Amendment does not protect humanitarian groups or others who advise foreign terrorist organizations, even if the support is aimed at legal activities or peaceful settlement of disputes, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. " (Washington Post, June 22, 2010)

That ruling makes the efforts of the named Neocons a prima facie case of material support to terrorists. Considering the absurd interpretations of the law, Thiessen's one degree of separation would put him under scrutiny if he were a Muslim. The law was written to legally put the screws to anyone who might support in any way, Israel's enemies, e.g.. Hamas, Hezbollah, etc., within six degrees of separation. But rarely some other organization reluctantly gets put on the list.

The law is just one more example of both democrats and republicans turning America into a police state.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 16, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Thiessen, I've read Cole's NYT op-ed, which is linked in your piece. Mr. Cole is so unambiguously in favor of the right of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to express their opinion without fear of reprisal that it is impossible for you to have misinterpreted Cole's op-ed by accident.

What Mr. Cole stated -- very very very clearly -- is that as the result of the decision by the judicial activists of the Supreme Court, notably, John Roberts, whom YOU support, these individuals are potentially subject to punishment under the laws and policies which THEY THEMSELVES called for. AND that the law ought to be changed, to return to them, the people they persecuted, and others the freedom to speak in support of (or opposition to) foreign groups that the government disagrees with.

It is bad enough that you are an inveterate apologist for war criminals. You should not compound it by further intentionally lying. (No kinder way to put it. You're not stupid, you read the piece, it's unambiguously in support of these Bush functionaries.)

Posted by: edallan | January 17, 2011 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Thiessen,
You have left out of your rebuttal several vital issues about Mukasey, Ridge, Giuliani, and Townsend's support of MEK, a listed terrorist organization, that has been discussed by Glenn Greenwald and many others.
I fully support the First Amendment right of speech to support and advocate for the organization, policies, and ideas of one's choice...but if Mukasey, Ridge, Giuliani, and Townsend weren't well connected, political establishment elites, they could easily be indicted under the DOJ and FBI's use overly expansive 'material support' of terrorism...this is a major threat to our constitutional rights and is being abused by the DOJ and FBI.
Mr. Thiessen, where's your heartfelt outrage at the FBI's raids and demands to testify at a grand jury of numerous activists in the Midwest and at the Chicago-based Freedom Road Socialist Organization??
Here's a link to the issues...
These activists have done nothing more than utilize their constitutional rights and support certain groups our apparently all-knowing, all-powerful groups our government has deemed verboten...just as Mukasey, Ridge, Giuliani, and Townsend has supported, Iraq-based and anti-Iran MEK, a listed terrorist organization.

Posted by: Civilius | January 17, 2011 8:43 AM | Report abuse

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