14 December 2011

Why I Hang Up On The New York Times

From time to time, I'll get a call from someone representing the New York Times newspaper soliciting me to subscribe. My reaction is always the same. I hang up on them. Though the following email is a bit dated, it helps explain why I hang up on them and why I don't subscribe to any newspapers - even my local one.

Dear Messrs. Keller, Lichtblau & Risen:

Congratulations on disclosing our government’s highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.) Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato’s guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months’ salary. As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry, and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion — or next time I feel it — I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others — laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,

Tom Cotton
Baghdad, Iraq

You can read more about Tom Cotton here. He's from rural Arkansas. He definitely has the heart of a warrior. I believe you will be hearing more from him in the future.


Brock Townsend said...

Good find and posted.

Lindsay said...

What a powerful letter...instead of hanging up on them, you should ask them for their email and forward this as your reason for not subscribing!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hi Lindsay - I have engaged them before in courteous discourse giving them reasons. I think most of these calls come from marketing companies rather than actual NYT employees. Hope you have a Merry Christmas.

13thBama said...

On a like note, every time I hear WaPo's "If you don't get it, you don't get it" I see red. How condescending can an organization be?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - apparently, right much. Bought that detector yet?

13thBama said...

Cant be a Christmas gift, as our daughter's gift has stressed the bankroll. Maybe in a few months?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Ya never know.