Thursday, January 05, 2006

Excellent fisking alert!

Tom Maguire rips the NY Times a new one for its self-aggrandizing and self-congratulatory editorial defending its decision to print the NSA surveillance story. Here's the start of his Fisking (with the NYT's editorial excerpts in blockquote), then read the whole lot:

The NY Times editors, with emotional support from Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, explain good leaks and bad leaks to the rest of us:
Given the Bush administration's appetite for leak investigations (three are under way), this seems a good moment to try to clear away the fog around this issue.

"Clear the fog"? Why do I suspect the opposite outcome is more likely? (And how does my involvement affect the odds...)
A democratic society cannot long survive if whistle-blowers are criminally punished for revealing what those in power don't want the public to know - especially if it's unethical, illegal or unconstitutional behavior by top officials.
Hmm. What if what "those in power" are concealing are important national security secrets in wartime? Who makes the call? And how long can we survive if every disputed wartime decision is debated on the nation's front pages?
Reporters need to be able to protect these sources, regardless of whether the sources are motivated by policy disputes or nagging consciences.
Now wait - the Times is entitled to keep their secrets, but the government cannot? Who died and made Sulzberger king publisher? I understand the importance of running ads in the Christmas season, and I guess its easier to do that if a news story or two accompanies them, but why should we trust the Times?

Ultimately, the whole whistleblower protection/source protection issue is a red herring, as Maguire shows: during the Clinton Administration, Congress voted to provide whistleblower protection to intelligence employees who testify to Congressional oversight committees because they are NOT otherwise covered by Federal whistleblower protection laws. Why only offer whistleblower protection to intelligence agency employees who testify to the oversight committees? Because Congress did not want them leaking to the media, as Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) noted in support of that bill:

The committee is hopeful that this legislation will also encourage employees within the intelligence community to bring such information to an appropriate committee of Congress rather than unlawfully disclosing such information to the media, as happens from time to time.

Ultimately, the NY Times is on a quixotic crusade to have every decision of the Administration with regard to the war on terrorism scrutinized as if it were a political issue of no more importance than ethanol subsidies, and damn the necessity to keep information secret in the interest of national security.

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