"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Nearly Twelve

Last week we wrote:

The big story here isn’t the interception of terrorists’ communications from overseas to people within the United States or the government’s monitoring radiation levels of private buildings.

The big story this past week is that someone or ones are willing to break the law by leaking classified information and some major media outlets are willing to aid and abet the crime. The real question isn’t why the Bush administration took the actions it did, but rather why the leakers are leaking and why some in the media are more than happy to help.

Well, it looks like we were right and we just may find out. The Justice Department has been asked by the NSA to investigate leaks to the New York Times concerning the agency’s terrorist communication intercept program. “White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Justice undertook the action on its own, and Bush was informed of it Friday.”

From the New York Times:

"The leaking of classified information is a serious issue," Mr. Duffy said. "The fact is that Al Qaeda's playbook is not printed on Page One, and when America's is, it has serious ramifications."

The president last week denounced the leak of information about the program in strong language, saying: "My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."
The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees:

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union: "Our nation is strengthened, not weakened, by those whistle-blowers who are courageous enough to speak out on violations of the law."

But apparently not courageous enough to let the Times use their names.

“Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation’s legality and oversight.”

The “concerns” of “nearly a dozen current and former officials” (what number is nearly 12?) apparently reached a fevered pitch right before the presidential election last year. When the Times didn’t print the story at that critical monument, the “whistle-blowers'” campaign to uncover the administration’s “abuse of power” seems to have lost urgency. Now the NSA program again becomes a “concern to American civil liberties” a few weeks before James Risen’s book launch. What coincidences!

The “nearly twelve” probably thought no one would ever discover or disclose their identity. Presumably if their well-timed leaks worked as intended, George Bush would not be president and a Kerry Justice Department would not vigorously investigate the leaks. Besides, the New York Times wouldn’t burn their sources, right? What a difference a year makes. Just ask Judy Miller.

James Taranto quips: “If we were James Risen or Erich Lichtblau, who broke the NSA story for the Times, we'd be nervous.” Michelle Malkin asks: "Any bets on how long it will take for Eric Lichtblau and James Risen to roll over? I'd guess a few weeks after Risen's book launch."

We don’t know how nervous the reporters will be or how long it will take for Risen or Lichtblau to squeal, but if we were members of the "nearly twelve” we’d be worried about one of our fellow big mouths spilling their guts to the FBI. After all, they’ve each proven they can’t be trusted with secrets.


At 2:27 PM, Blogger Media In Trouble said...

wow you righties are nuts.

the new york times dumps on its readers by saving the story until a year after the election, saving bush's ass perhaps, and you are still unsatisfied with the NYT?

as always you miss the point.

the fact is these whistleblowers blew their whistles to save our right to privacy, or at the very least to let it be known that the president was authorizing illegal behavior under the cover of "classified."

UH... Sorry, the mechanism fo rthat is in place already and it is called the FISA court. Something your president arrogantly decided to ignore.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Enlighten said...

In the past couple of days, we have been called very sick, twisted and nuts for our views on our country’s operations in Iraq, the monitoring of radiation levels and the interception of terrorist communications. Name calling and other put downs may be persuasive arguments for the “progressive” point of view within some circles; but others may find this form of debate lacking. We prefer to rely on facts to back up our opinions.

We are dissatisfied with the New York Times because the owners/editors chose to print classified information provided by “nearly twelve” current and former government officials. Why do you fail to acknowledge leaking classified information is a crime?

Government workers perceiving a need to “blow the whistle” are supposed to do so in accordance with the law – which may be read here. As you will note, blabbing to the New York Times isn’t part of the legal, whistle blowing process.

How do you reach the conclusion President Bush authorized illegal behavior? John Schmidt the Associate Attorney General serving under President Clinton, for one, has concluded otherwise. See his article President had legal authority to OK taps.

President Bush’s motive for authorizing the NSA program, preventing a terrorist attack, has been widely reported. The motives and timing by the leakerss to the New York Times remains an open question. But here a few things we’ve been thinking about:

1. The intercepts were authorized by President Bush shortly after 9/11. The “nearly twelve” held on to their “concerns” for a couple of years before deciding to take action, why the wait?

2. If the leakers were so concerned about the legality, the trampling of civil rights and invasion of “our privacy” by the NSA program a.) why didn’t they report their concerns to the proper authorities in the legal manner or b) out of “desperation” go to another credible media outlet with their concerns when the NYT didn’t publish their story?

3. If the President’s actions were illegal and the leakers actions legal, why haven’t they publicly stepped forward, either at the point when they contacted the Times or now?

Why are you so willing to dump on the President and so quick to take the side of unknown people who may or may not might have been motivated by legitimate “privacy” concerns? And why would President Bush knowingly and willfully break the law by authorizing the NSA program if it was not a necessary tool to prevent teorrist strikes as you claim? What’s the benefit to him or his supporters for doing so?

In terms of arrogance – we’d say it was the height of arrogance for the “nearly twelve” to leak classified information because of their personal “concerns”. The “nearly twelve” have placed themselves above the law. The Times printed a story after being warned that the information, if made public, may greatly harm national security. Clearly, the Times is not in possession of all of the facts concerning the NSA program and for reasons unexplained has the chutzpah to decide what is best for the American people, presidential warnings be damned.

Prior to implementation, the program was legally vetted and found to be legal under U.S. law and the Constitution. The program is reviewed with congressional leaders on a regular basis, audited by the Justice Department and monitored by the courts. Even the NYT in follow-up coverage acknowledges audits of the program turned up no instances of abuse.

We can’t speak for you, but we are very sure our privacy rights were not “saved” by the leakers or the NYT reportage. However, it is probably safe to assume, unless you are a terrorist that anyone, including the government, is interested in what you have to say.

One last thing. We noticed you referred to President Bush as “our president.” If the President of the United States is not your president, the U.S. is not your country. If this is the case, we don’t see that any of this is of your concern, but it does help explain your lack of knowledge concerning similar “spying” programs authorized by American Presidents throughout our history.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Jack said...

Hahaha. This sounds like when Pat Buchanan said that Deepthroat was a traitor.

- Jersey Perspective


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