Dear Mr. Sulzberger Jr.
I have been a frequent letter-writer critical of the operation of the New York Times recently. I was specifically most disturbed by the Times treatment of the run-up to the Iraq war. One of my complaints at that time was that it was essential for a free press in our democracy to be willing to challenge the government; to act as the fourth estate.
I am happy to write this letter in support of the New York Times in using it's judgement to report on the S.W.I.F.T. program despite the urging of the government to not do so. To recognize that all requests by the government are not always valid is an important stance to maintain, and to recognize that not all administrations are to be trusted equally is a happy development. Mr. Keller has correctly noted that the story did not contain much in the way of "new" intelligence information that was not already in the public domain, and that the focus of the article was on the lack of Congressional oversight of this well known anti-terrorist program.
I specifically want to commend editor-in-chief Bill Keller in his defense of the judgement call made by the Times. Mr. Keller has repeatedly made cogent arguments against all adversaries on this issue (most recently on "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer" in which he carefully and respectfully dismantled each argument provided by former NSA head Bobby Inman) and has withstood attacks that appear to have been motivated by midterm election faux outrage.
It is crucial for our free press to remain independent, and above all, skeptical of our government in order to fulfill it's function as a government check. You have done so and rightly deserve praise.
I'm a very lucky person with every allergy known to man but still happy to be enjoying a wonderful life living in the best place in the world!