“When?” Is No Longer One Of The Times‘ Five W’s.

1120musharraf.jpgOver in his new gig at Politico, ex-Observer Michael Calderone, points out that the Bush administration got the New York Times to sit on the “American government helping Pakistan protect their nukes” story for more than three years:

In the article’s 11th paragraph, the Times disclosed that publication was delayed “for more than three years,” after the administration argued “that premature disclosure could hurt the effort to secure the weapons.”

So after several years, and previous objection, why did the piece now come off the shelf?

Times executive editor Bill Keller did not respond to several requests for comment about what influenced his decision to now publish the piece.

But David Sanger, the Times Chief Washington Correspondent, who co-authored the piece, told Politico that since 2004, Pakistani authorities have made statements “about elements of the program.”

Why publish it now? With Pervez Musharraf‘s government teetering on the edge of collapse and the need to reassure the public that nuclear weapons won’t suddenly show up in the hands of trigger-happy jihadis in a few months… We’d say someone at the White House wan’t complaining when the Times asked for a greenlight for the story.

And, hey! We’re right:

So in the past couple weeks, Sanger, who’s currently on book leave, contacted Washington Bureau Chief Dean Baquet to revisit the matter. But this time around, as the Times disclosed, the “White House withdrew its request that publication be withheld.”

In other delayed reporting news, Radar got their hands on a Times memo that reports the newspaper is proposing eliminating dates from datelines to give the impression of fresher news.