Sunday, October 22, 2006

In The Times We Trust?

(Via Michelle Malkin) Byron Calame, Public Editor at the NYTimes:
My July 2 column strongly supported The Times’s decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it’s a close call now, as it was then, I don’t think the article should have been published.. . .

I haven’t found any evidence in the intervening months that the surveillance program was illegal under United States laws. Although data-protection authorities in Europe have complained that the formerly secret program violated their rules on privacy, there have been no Times reports of legal action being taken. [Emphasis mine]
Wouldn't it be nice if the Times had made these determinations BEFORE PUBLISHING INFORMATION ABOUT A SECRET COUNTERTERRORIST PROGRAM? Since when is it a newspaper's prerogative to determine the legality or illegality of such a program? I'm pretty confident that they had no information either that private citizens not involved in terrorism were wiretapped by the NSA under authorization by the President. It's as though they were more worried about the terrorists' right of privacy than about the safety of their fellow citizens. When the President decides to classify or declassify information, he's accountable for his actions. When a newspaper decides to publish classified information, who's accountable?

Printing a retraction or a "mea culpa" won't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

I think that these people have never really accepted the fact that we are at war, that bin Laden declared war on us, that Saddam was at war with us, regularly firing missiles at our planes patroling the No-Fly Zones. It's the Chomsky-think problem. They think we deserved to have the WTC and the Pentagon attacked and their occupants and four plane-loads of travelers murdered. "We brought it on ourselves!"

Yet they want us to pay for their services. They think they're bigger than the government. They expect immunity for acts that would send anybody else to prison. Are they now going to accept responsibility for national security? Or, at least, the inability of the government to keep its secrets secret? Printing their regrets will not unwind the effects of their blabbing.

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