Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Law Unenforced Is A Law Ignored -- Prosecute The New York Times And The Los Angeles Times!

As the dead are being counted from the terrorist bombings of the Mumbai (Bombay) train system, we are reminded that in the face of continuing terrorist threats, some prominent American newspapers believe that they have carte blanche to publish classified information concerning our government's anti-terrorism operations. Most egregious was the recent publication by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Tiems of national security secrets concerning the monitoring by the CIA of data obtained from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which administers international money transfer transactions. Those newspapers chose to reveal details concerning a legal and successful intelligence operation, despite pleas to refrain from the Secretary of the Treasury, the White House Press Secretary and even Democrats Lee Hamilton (Co-chair of the 9/11 commission) and Congressman John Murtha (who is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee). NY Times editor Bill Keller apparently believed that he could make a more accurate assessment of the potential damage to national security sitting in his office than could any of those individuals. His arrogance is astounding.

Previously, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published classified information concerning National Security Agency monitoring for mobile phone communications between al-Qaeda agents abroad and their moles inside the United States.

A law unenforced is a law ignored. The disregard of our nation's security laws by leading newspapers must stop. I therefore call for the prosecution of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for publishing classified information in violation of federal law.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in New York Times v. the United States (the Pentagon Papers case), held that there is a "heavy presumption" against the government's right to engage in pre-publication censorship of a news story. However, that presumption does not apply to post-publication prosecution if a law has been violated. Generally speaking, the First Amendment does not give a newspaper any greater license to disseminate classified information than a private citizen.

I do not know what the prospects are for successful legal prosecution of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. However, it is worth noting that the newspapers and civil libertarians often argue that legal actions on newspapers can have a "chilling effect." In this case, a chilling effect is exactly what is called for. Indeed, one might say that our lives depend on it.


Blogger Mark said...

I could not agree with you more. Lock up the editors, publishers, and reporters. Impound the property involved and treat this as the espionage case that it is. 

Posted by Mark

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 7:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug H. said...

I think the focus out to be on those who leak the information. Convene a grand jury investigating the leaks, and call the NY Times and LA Times reporters to testify. The reporters would have two choices: reveal their sources, which would make it less likely they would benefit from future leaks, or go to jail.


Posted by Doug H.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 8:55:00 PM  
Anonymous BlueBuffoon said...

According to the New York Post's reporting , the Justice Department is looking into a "criminal probe" of the disclosures. I realize this may mean only that the targets may be the inside "leakers" and not the media outlets who view themselves free of oversight, but I hope it's a start.

The final sentence in the article is extremely telling about the extent to which the Democrats are willing to condone treason in the interest of their own (short-term) political advantage:

"Some Democrats on the panel picked up on arguments by Times editors that terrorists already knew about the existence of the program."

If this pathetic rationalization were in fact true, why would Rep. Murtha (of all possible "patriots") be one of the people involved in trying to convince the NYTimes not to publish the report? And why would the NY Times and LA Times think it significant enough to put on their front page?

What is clear is that some journalists simply fail to grasp the important point that one does not have an obligation to disseminate anything and everything you may know--or think you know--about the government (or anything else for that matter) and that their even their vaunted freedom of the press could be in the balance because of their careless disregard of the interests of the nation whose protection they so defiantly claim to stand behind.

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 8:45:00 AM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

Fry them all--the leakers and the publishers.

OK, maybe "fry" isn't the right word. But throw the book at them all, and make sure it's the unabridged book. 

Posted by SkyePuppy

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Glad to see you've finally come around to seeing the seriousness of enforcing our immigration laws and our borders...oh wait, that wasn't what the headline of your post mean was it? (For what it's worth, I agree that the leakers, though not the press, should be prosecuted. 

Posted by Watchman

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 1:13:00 PM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

Watchman: I will the risk of stepping on the shoes of my Blog Partner, the Hedgehog, who is the expert on immigration issues. I concur that part of our current immigration dilemma stems from past failures to enforce existing immigration laws, especially after the amnesty of 1986. However, our advocacy on this blog of reasonable immigration legislation, in opposition to the "Let's Ship Them All Back" school to which I assume you belong, is precisely because a bad unenforceable law of that nature would further erode respect for the immigration laws. 

Posted by The Kosher Hedgehog

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 4:24:00 PM  

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