June 26, 2006
WAR: Loose Lips
If the media actually was working secretly for America's enemies in general and international Islamist terrorist groups in particular, how would it act differently from what it does today? I'm sure you could come up with examples, but sadly I think the answer is "not all that different." Patterico, who's been covering the LA Times' end of the recent efforts to "blow the whitsle" on a terror-fighting program that was clearly secret, legal and effective, looks into the mind of the LAT by listening to one of its editors justify the decision.
Ace has a darker view of the media's motivation:
I'm quite sure the reasonable liberals at the NYT and WaPo know full well that programs like this are absolutely vital, and their secrecy is likewise vital. However, they have made the most anti-American and evil sort of decision: While tools like this are vital for saving American lives, they will not permit any Republican President to use them. Only Democratic Presidents are permitted to employ the full panoply of powers for protecting American lives.
It's blackmail, pure and simple. Either let a Democrat into the White House, or we will continue to sabotage American security and, in effect, kill Americans. We will keep secrets when a Democrat is in office, but not a Republican. So we offer the American people a choice: Let the politicians we favor run the country, or we will help Al Qaeda murder you.
Like Allahpundit, I don't actually think any reporters think this way consciously, but if they are less trusting of Republican administrations and more likely to see it as necessary to undermine their ability to keep national secrets, it amounts to the same thing.
UPDATE: What would be more useful, if you were operating a terrorist network: the name of one Virginia-based WMD analyst who used to be a covert agent back before the African embassy bombings? Or roadmaps of how the US government monitors telecommunications and financial transactions?
I think the big problem is the boy who cried wolf. The Bush administration has trampled on so many civil liberties, it's almost hard to believe when they do it right. As I wroter berfore, follow the money. Al Qaida would have to be stupid to think they weren't though.
I also think there is a natrual suspicion of government in the US. Asimov wrote a great short story The Dead Past that really dealt with that.
However, I think the entire monetary system is built on the full faith and credit of the US Congress, and therefore, they do indeed have a right to look. They do it all the time. Just ask Al Capone.
You have the right analogy but have it going the wrong way. The media and those on the left with BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) have cried wolf about civil liberties being trampled so much without any real examples of it happening. How many times have people whined that they are keeping track of what books are checked out of the library or my phone is being tapped without it actually happening?
You're half right that al Qaida would have to be stupid not to expect that we were following the money. However, they had no understanding of how much cooperation we were receiving from foreign governments in tracking the flow of money. The other damage done by this revelation is that some of those countries may be less likely to continue to provide this help.
Your right Bill, there has been so much scrutiny of the possibility that someone’s civil liberties are being violated it is unlikely that there has been an occurrence. Certainly there hasn’t been one identified yet. I guess my question is if you don’t have anything to hind, why do you care. Yes, our rights need to be protected, but if it takes listening to my phone call, checking on what books I get from the library or reviewing my bank records, have at it. Like I tell the phone people trying to sell me caller id, “I’m not hiding from anyone.”
As for the NY Times, Washington Post and LA Times, if you are revealing sensitive information about the war on terror, not only should charges be brought against the company and all of its officers, but the institution should be shutdown. Yes, that is another slippery slope, but it is one that I am willing to navigate if it will help save American lives and in the long run protect the freedoms that I and my many brethren to the oath to defend. That oath does include the phrase “all enemies foreign and domestic”. It is time to start looking at some of those domestic enemies.
I'm pretty sure the main reason not to reveal Valerie Plame's identity is not that it would be enormously important to Osama bin Laden. Instead, it's that she had business contacts in North Africa and the Middle East, who could potentially be endangered when the entire world was informed she worked for the CIA. If we aren't willing to protect our intelligence assets, it won't be surprising if we have trouble cultivating new ones.
So, if I understand some of you correctly, the various newspapers that too rarely bring to light the acts of the war crimes president should be prosecuted, but the criminal acts of the administration should go uninvestigated and unpunished?
You guys are priceless.
Shawn, I'm not sure what war crimes you are referring to. Please elaborate. What I have seen is an administration that has removed regimes in two countries that have brutally oppressed their respective populations for year. In the course of doing do, both rregimes killed thousands, tens of thousands and in one case literally hundreds of thousands of their own citizens. Most historians would refer that the administration as a liberator, especially since the governments in both cases have been returned to the people of the two countries and selected through free elections. In any other era in our history G W Bush would be lauded has a world hero for his actions since 9/11. Oh and yes, we are priceless. Some things you just can't buy and respect is one of them.
The NY Times, LA Times, WSJ, Washington Post and whoever else printed this should be investigated.
Also go after the leakers of this CLASSIFIED information.
Public safety has been the #1 priority of our government, and like him or not President Bush has stressed that.
The anti American, anti Bush haters should be glad they live in a country where they can FREELY spew their vile. in most countries like the former IRAQ they would have been killed speaking out against their leader.
"I think the big problem is the boy who cried wolf. The Bush administration has trampled on so many civil liberties, it's almost hard to believe when they do it right."
Show us all of the times that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Bush Administration has done something unconstitutional.
Do you really think this is Secret? Foreign medias have reported this 3-4 years ago. The question is, why is american ppl kept the only one not knowing this?