NYT: We're Still Above the Law [Stephen Spruiell]
The duo of Eric Lichtblau and James Risen have published the details of yet another classified national-security program. This time, they exposed the workings of a database of financial records that the administration has used to track al Qaeda's banking transactions:
The Bush administration has made no secret of its campaign to disrupt terrorist financing, and President Bush, Treasury officials and others have spoken publicly about those efforts. Administration officials, however, asked The New York Times not to publish this article, saying that disclosure of the Swift program could jeopardize its effectiveness. They also enlisted several current and former officials, both Democrat and Republican, to vouch for its value.
Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said: "We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration. We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."
According to the NYT's own reporting, the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the "public interest" (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public's interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program. Keller and his team really do believe they are above the law. When it comes to national security, it isn't the government that should decide when secrecy is essential to a program's effectiveness. It is the New York Times.
National security be damned. There are Pulitzers to be won.
UPDATE: The LA Times
missed out on April's Pulitzer bonanza, when the NYT and Washington Post both won
for exposing classified programs. Not this time around
sent the link and added:
They're actually competing to see which of them can most effectively undermine Bush's counterterror program using the pretext of privacy concerns. Amazing.
Amazingly predictable, given the perverse incentives.
06/22 10:25 PMShare