FISKING THE NEW YORK TIMES ON REVEALING INTELLIGENCE PROGRAMS
Blogfriend Marc Schulman at American Future properly takes New York Times executive editor, Bill Keller, to task:
“It’s not our job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal or effective, but the story cites strong arguments from proponents that this is the case. While some experts familiar with the program have doubts about its legality, which has never been tested in the courts, and while some bank officials worry that a temporary program has taken on an air of permanence, we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it. That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don’t know about it.”
By publishing the story, the Times is passing judgment on whether the program is legal. I doubt very much that the Times would publish an article having as its headline “Secret Intelligence Program Is Legal”. If the paper thought it was legal, what would be the point of disclosing it? To publish an article on a secret program after the government has requested that it not be published necessarily implies that the Times believes that its legality is questionnable. And to do so without having identified any privacy abuses is to indict the government for a victimless crime. “
Well said. If anything, Marc is too kind to the Times whose editors were well aware that the intelligence program was targeting members and suspected associates of al Qaida, that it was working well and without any abuses of power or constitutional questions. And nevertheless, they chose with deliberate intent, to compromise it.
The appointment of a special prosecutor is warranted.