Friday, April 28, 2006

Wartime journalism -- don't lose sight of who is your country

One routine criticism I've had (and many conservatives have had) of diplomats and ambassadors is that the Foreign Service members too often has represented the countries they've been stationed in to the US instead of representing US interests in those countries. Indeed, this was part and parcel of the Bolton confirmation conflagration -- how can an unabashed promoter of American policy work with the UN as the "UN ambassador." That phrasing demonstrated the problem -- he's not the UN's ambassador to the US, he's the US ambassador to the UN and must represent our interests just as the great Pat Moynihan did decades ago.

There is a similar disengagement in the press. No, the average media member (as opposed to a Stars & Stripes writer) is not a government employee nor paid for by the taxes of US citizens. But reporters who are Americans have the same duty as every other American to not disseminate information that has been deemed secret (i.e., classified, secret, top secret, FYEO). Thus, Ralph Peters wonders why journalists want a scoop so badly that they would break the law and endanger the US:

. . . three questions of those journalists chasing prizes by printing our wartime secrets:

* Can you honestly claim to have done our nation any good?

* Did you weigh the harm your act might cause, including the loss of American lives?

* Is the honorable patriotism of Edward R. Murrow truly dead in American journalism?

If you draw a government (or contractor) paycheck and willfully compromise classified material, you should go to jail. If you are a journalist in receipt of classified information and you publish it to the benefit of our enemies, you should go to jail . . .

When a journalist is given classified information, his or her first call shouldn't be to an editor. It should be to the FBI.

No comments: