Carol Platt Liebau: A Dishonorable Defensive Crouch

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Dishonorable Defensive Crouch

Perhaps it's not surprising that an Agent Press France story does an excellent job of outlining the meme that The New York Times is trying to peddle in its own defense, now that it knows the majority of Americans, and Congress, too, are outraged by its unauthorized disclosure of a classified program during wartime.

First, we have:

As for tipping off terrorists, the newspaper argued that terror groups would have to be "fairly credulous" not to have already suspected that such a fund monitoring program was in place.

It highlighted a public 2002 UN report that specifically cited the US policy of monitoring suspicious transactions.

This argument makes no sense on two levels. For one thing, if there were no new revelations about the program, and everyone already knew about it, why bother to report it?

For another, there's all the difference in the world between knowing a program may be in place and having specific information about how it's conducted. It's the difference between knowing that the police are on the lookout for drunk drivers on Independence Day, for example, and being told that they are gong to pull over every black car with license plates that include the letters NYT.

Second, there's this:

The Times responded that its report had exposed "an alarming pattern" that has emerged since the September 11 attacks, of the Bush administration citing security imperatives to bypass the normal checks and balances placed on the executive branch.

Both rationales are, quite simply, lies. Bill Keller himself conceded in his letter that there is "considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far." That doesn't sound like the hallmark of a program with which terrorists are familiar, or an abuse of power, especially when members of Congress had, indeed, been briefed on the program.

But even amid its disingenuousness, the second rationale exposes the underlying mentality at The Times. If, indeed, "the Bush administration [is] citing security imperatives to bypass the normal checks and balances placed on the executive branch," then it's Congress' Article I prerogatives that are being overridden. And one would imagine that the members of Congress who have been briefed on the program -- or Democrats like Lee Hamilton or liberal Republicans like Tom Kean of the 9/11 Commission -- would object. No one did. Maybe The Times or leftist moonbats think the pattern is "alarming," but apparently no one elected to represent us agreed.

And that's what irks The Times. It despises the Bush Administration, and is dismayed because the (Republican) Congress refuses to dismantle secret programs that are helping secure the country from another attack. So if the Congress won't undermine the war on terror, the unelected, unaccountable and arrogant Times will.

One final note: The Times has argued that its publication of classified information bears "no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals."

Nice try. Disclosure of troop locations could be profoundly damaging not only because it "compromises the immediate safely of specific individuals," but also if, by surrendering the element of surprise, allows the enemy to change its own battle tactics. In fact, if the information allows the enemy to withdraw from that particular field of battle (where it was being slaughtered) and wait to strike another day and another way, it may not have compromised anyone's immediate safety, but it has jeopardized soldiers' lives, the war effort and national security itself in a serious and lasting way.


Blogger wrabkin said...


One quick question: Do you believe, as did so many in your party, that the publication of the Pentagon Papers was treason?

6:58 AM  
Blogger COPioneer said...

Excellent post Carol, keep up the good work!

8:01 AM  
Blogger Greg said...


8:08 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

Right on, Carol!

9:41 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

It took many months for the NSA wiretapping to be exposed. What Bush initially claimed, proved to be down right lies.

The NYT repeatedly pointed out that those they interviewed questioned the legality of the program.

Certainly we need to know the ramifications of the Patriot Act and how it might undermine the checks and balances of Congress over the executive branch.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

Wrabkin asks, "One quick question: Do you believe, as did so many in your party, that the publication of the Pentagon Papers was treason?"

The Pentagon Papers?!? Heck, Carol believes if you look directly at the President without averting your gaze you are committing treason. "Il est l'etat", right Carol?

10:28 PM  

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