Mostly lost in the past week's media gossip around NYT executive editor Jill Abramson's ouster, and Dean Baquet's promotion to her role: Baquet is the former LA Times editor who killed the biggest NSA leak pre-Edward Snowden.
Former AT&T technician Mark Klein was a whistleblower who worked with then-LAT reporter Joseph Menn for months on a story of how the spy agency tapped into central communications hubs to surveil communications.
But the story was spiked by Baquet.
As ABC News reported it, the exclusive was "killed at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and then-director of the NSA Gen. Michael Hayden. Baquet confirmed to ABCNews.com he talked with Negroponte and Hayden but says 'government pressure played no role in my decision not to run the story.' Baquet says he and managing editor Doug Frantz decided 'we did not have a story, that we could not figure out what was going on' based on Klein’s highly technical documents."
Baquet says he and managing editor Doug Frantz decided “we did not have a story, that we could not figure out what was going on” based on Klein’s highly technical documents. The reporter, Menn, declined to comment, but Baquet says he knows “Joe disagreed and was very disappointed.”
Klein says he then took his AT&T documents to The New York Times, which published its exclusive account last April.
NYT reporters John Markoff and Scott Shane eventually broke the news. Everyone else followed.
Klein became a key witness in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s class action lawsuit, Hepting vs AT&T. When Edward Snowden leaked a massive cache of secret NSA documents last year, Klein was effectively vindicated.
Joe Menn now reports "highly technical" stories for Reuters.
What kind of editor will Baquet be when the next big leak rolls in?