Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Times' Disclosures: Lileks' Beatdown

Executing a snark tour de force  is no easy task. But James Lileks makes it look routine, with a brutal smackdown of the New York Times. The Times' proclivity for leaking national security secrets like candy from a Pez dispenser is an egregious, well-nigh-treasonous practice. One would, then, not be surprised to read the following stories someday soon:

September 10, 2006: The New York Times runs a story about a CIA agent named Mohammed Al-Ghouri, 1034 Summit Park, Evanston Illinois, who is attempting to penetrate a radical sleeper cell suspected of having 19 liters of homemade mustard gas. The series concludes with the agent’s obituary, and a moving quote from a CIA historian who notes that the “al-Ghouri was one of rare, brave breed whose names and deeds are rarely known. Except in this case, of course.” ...

Feb. 14, 2007: Times Editor Keller approves the publication of the Pentagon’s plans for a Feb 15th strike on Iran, asserting that “there has been far too little debate about whether the sustained assault by cruise missiles and stealth bombers will provide a cover for the infiltration of several SpecOps teams from the Iraqi and Afghan bases, or whether these groups, code named ‘Red Six’ and ‘Blue Fourteen’ respectively, might suffer friendly fire. One error in timing, such as the barrage scheduled for the 3 AM on night of the 24th, could expose our troops to great harm. If this leads to a debate about whether the Tomahawk missile can be sent slightly off course by a concentrated microwave burst, as classified documents seem to suggest, it’s a debate we need to have.”

Picking up the beat(down) is David Reinhard of the Portland Oregonian ("Who died and left you president of the United States?" - hat tip: Powerline):

The founders didn't give the media or unnamed sources a license to expose secret national security operations in wartime. They set up a Congress to pass laws against disclosing state secrets and an executive branch to conduct secret operations so the new nation could actually defend itself from enemies, foreign and domestic...

Not to worry, you tell us, terrorists already know we track their funding, and disclosure won't undercut the program. (Contradictory claims, but what the heck.) You at the Times know better. You know better than government officials who said disclosing the program's methods and means would jeopardize a successful enterprise. You know better than the 9/11 Commission chairmen who urged you not to run the story. Better than Republican and Democratic lawmakers who were briefed on the program. Better than the Supreme Court, which has held since 1976 that bank records are not constitutionally protected. Better than Congress, which established the administrative subpoenas used in this program.

Maybe you do. But whether you do or not, there's no accountability. If you're wrong and we fail to stop a terror plot and people die because of your story, who's going to know, much less hold you accountable? No, the government will be blamed -- oh, happy day, maybe Bush's White House! -- for not connecting dots or crippling terror networks.

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