Friday, February 03, 2006

A must read

This is a long article, however it covers a long history of sedition and paints a very large target on the NYTimes and the sources who leaked secret information. From what Porter Goss testified about in Congress, I think he may agree. Just a taste:

The 9/11 Commission, in seeking to explain how we fell victim to a surprise assault, pointed to the gap between our foreign and domestic intelligence-collection systems, a gap that over time had grown into a critical vulnerability. Closing that gap, in the wake of September 11, meant intercepting al-Qaeda communications all over the globe. This was the purpose of the NSA program—a program “essential to U.S. national security,” in the words of Jane Harman, the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee—the disclosure of which has now “damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”

One might go further. What the New York Times has done is nothing less than to compromise the centerpiece of our defensive efforts in the war on terrorism. If information about the NSA program had been quietly conveyed to an al-Qaeda operative on a microdot, or on paper with invisible ink, there can be no doubt that the episode would have been treated by the government as a cut-and-dried case of espionage. Publishing it for the world to read, the Times has accomplished the same end while at the same time congratulating itself for bravely defending the First Amendment and thereby protecting us—from, presumably, ourselves. The fact that it chose to drop this revelation into print on the very day that renewal of the Patriot Act was being debated in the Senate—the bill’s reauthorization beyond a few weeks is still not assured—speaks for itself.

The Justice Department has already initiated a criminal investigation into the leak of the NSA program, focusing on which government employees may have broken the law. But the government is contending with hundreds of national-security leaks, and progress is uncertain at best. The real question that an intrepid prosecutor in the Justice Department should be asking is whether, in the aftermath of September 11, we as a nation can afford to permit the reporters and editors of a great newspaper to become the unelected authority that determines for all of us what is a legitimate secret and what is not. Like the Constitution itself, the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of the press are not a suicide pact. The laws governing what the Times has done are perfectly clear; will they be enforced?

I strongly suggest reading the entire article and let me know what you think.