Why Conservatives Should Shut the Fuck Up About Prosecuting the New York Times for "Leaking" Sensitive Material in the War on Terror

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The NY Sun's Eli Lake–a conservative hisself–lays into cons who think the NY Times has acted treasonously by reporting on gov't efforts in the WOT:

It was bad enough when the left argued for the erosion of press freedoms, but it's incoherent for conservatives to go down this road. Conservatives are supposed to be skeptical about unchecked power for the federal government. It is one of the principles that binds together a coalition of home-schoolers, federalists, gun owners, and tax cutters—the view that while the federal government may be necessary, its power should be checked at every available opportunity.

The Sun is subscription-only (alas) but much more of Lake's col, along with a very useful framing by Robert A. George is available at George's Ragged Thots blog here. As George–a New York Post columnist, self-described "Catholic, West Indian Black Republican," and occasional Reason contributor–puts it:

The need for vigilance on official action is even greater precisely because the war on terror is an open-ended enterprise which threatens to become an indefinite semi-permanent status quo. Such a state is inherently incompatible with the principles that underscore a constitutional republic based on limitations of executive power.

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  1. Why do Catholic, West Indian Black Republicans hate America?

  2. Instead of you people blaming conservatives, why don’t you demand that the press act more responsively? Or is that asking too much?

  3. John D,
    Did you mean responsibly or “responsively” as written.
    If the former, what do you mean by that? Do you mean that they should kiss even more administrational and congressional ass than they already do?
    If the latter, then I assume that you applaud the NYT’s investigative articles but would like more “responsive” reporting. Which is it?
    You’re giving me a headache before my morning coffee.

  4. “why don’t you demand that the press act more responsively?”

    Responsive to what?

  5. Conservatives are mostly whooping it up over “treason” in the press as a way to rally the troops for the November elections. They know that if they try to run on the war they’ll lose, because a majority of Americans want the war to go away. And social conservatives are smart enough to notice that Bush doesn’t really care about their agenda. But accusing liberals of treason is at least worth a try. Hey, it worked for Nixon.

  6. John D, Did you mean responsibly? How about we talk about this again when all the unchecked power we’re giving our dear leader is in the hands of a democratic president. I’ll bet you’ll be singing a different tune about the role of the press in keeping our elected emperor honest.

  7. John D, Did you mean responsibly? How about we talk about this again when all the unchecked power we’re giving our dear leader is in the hands of a democratic president. I’ll bet you’ll be singing a different tune about the role of the press in keeping our elected emperor honest.

  8. Conservatives are supposed to be skeptical about unchecked power for the federal government.

    They used a lot of that rhetoric when they were out of or on the margins of power certainly…

  9. I guess there is nothing that the press shouldn’t publish. Without getting into the details of this particular program, is it people’s opinion that the media should be able to reveal a secret program that is effective in tracking and cutting off funds to terrorists when the program is both legal and effective and revealing it will destroy the program’s effectivness? Why? That seems insane. What the purpose does it serve to reveal the program? Perhaps the program in question is not legal or is not compromised by publication. If that is true, than it is a different debate. But if those two things are true, then what possibly could be the motivation to publish it other than just to sell more newspapers or to help terrorists?

  10. Conservatives are supposed to be skeptical about unchecked power for the federal government.

    Yeah, I used to think that, too.

  11. “If that is true, than it is a different debate. But if those two things are true, then what possibly could be the motivation to publish it other than just to sell more newspapers or to help terrorists?”

    because, um, lesseeeeeeeeeeee, um….uh….

    you’re right. there’s no other compelling reason.

    oh, wait:

    “The need for vigilance on official action is even greater precisely because the war on terror is an open-ended enterprise which threatens to become an indefinite semi-permanent status quo.”

    huh. whaddaya think?

  12. If the NYT had known about the Manhattan Project, which at right up until the time of the successful Trinity test looked like a multi-billion dollar boondogle, under the rules of today they should have published the whole story. Don’t the people have a right know about the billions of dollars these little geek scientsts are scaming off of the tax payer out in New Mexico and the incredible environmental degredation going on at the plants in Oak Ridge Tennessee and Eastern Washington State trying to manufacture mythical substances known as enriched Uranium and something called Plutonium? How in the world could the tax paying public not been told about that? No question if the NYT circa 1944 had the ethics that it does today, it would have published all of the details of the Manhattan project, which would have been leaked to it by desgruntled Army official angry over Roosevelt’s Europe first policy.

  13. The need for vigilance on official action is even greater precisely because the war on terror is an open-ended enterprise which threatens to become an indefinite semi-permanent status quo

    So, D-hex then, in the name of oversight, no program should be secret because if we don’t the terrorists will win? And when we get hit again because we dont’ have any convert programs again, no doubt you and the NYT will totally okay with that and not scream bloody murder about government incompetance. The primary purpose of a government is to protect its citizens from foreighn threats. If it can’t do that, then nothing else matters.

  14. yeah, this is totally the manhattan project too.

    anyway, john, the problem is this: some of us trust the government more than others. i am in the latter camp, and you are in the former. and never the twain shall meet.

    i’m willing to concede that this is getting more heat both because of animosity between the nyt and the bush administration, and that for some weird reason people seem to think this will have electoral traction. that is entirely possible, since i don’t live in ‘merica and have my fingers somewhere on the upper thigh of america’s comely young daughters rather than anywhere near the pulse.

  15. I see the conservative argument always boils down to “… and revealing it will destroy the program’s effectivness?”

    Does anyone have any proof that the revelation of this program has decreased its effectiveness? Has there been a noticable drop in ‘monitored’ transactions?

  16. DHEX,

    I think your concerns is why we have congressional oversight. Congress ought to be informed in closed session what is going on. If they think it is horrible, then they are free to go to the floor, where they have immunity, and leak away. Then we as voters are free to judge wether they were right to do it or not.

    I totally think the NYT leaked this because they hate the Bush admin. If this had been going on during the Clinton admin, it would have never been published.

  17. What is it with the Militant Right always quoting the Manhattan Project when the discussion of leaks comes up?

    The Manhattan Project was a uselessly kept secret. There was NO nation that could have duplicated it or even close at the time and the US Govt. knew that beyond all doubt. Arguably, if it had been public knowledge – and especially the power of the test had been disclosed – it might have made dropping the damn things for real unnecessary or shortened the war in Europe. At the very least, it would have had zero effect on the outcome of WW2.

    It’s an incredibly bad example to cite.

    Regards, Cernig

  18. Jcavar,

    It has to boil down to that. If revealing it doesn’t hurt the program than where is the gripe? I wouldn’t have one if that were not true. In fact, maybe it is not. I am perfectly open to the idea that revealing this particular progam is no big deal. Certainly people in high places think that revealing it did do harm. If it didn’t, then I would like to hear how that is so.

  19. “If this had been going on during the Clinton admin, it would have never been published.”

    maybe.

    but more likely, it wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much traction, cause that was back when conservatives appeared to be worried about the expansion of government power and liberals were worried about domestic terrorism a la timothy mcveigh. hence the confusion with all parties, they did a 360 and everyone switched chairs. now no one knows whose cocktail that is.

    you may also be severely misunderestimating the great feeling a reporter gets from fucking over someone in power, and blowing a big story apart at the seams. never confuse an editorial position with the feelings of the troops on the ground, as it were.

  20. you may also be severely misunderestimating the great feeling a reporter gets from fucking over someone in power, and blowing a big story apart at the seams.

    I wish it happened more often…

  21. I guess there is nothing that the press shouldn’t publish.

    Sounds about right.

  22. John,

    Unfortunately, these “people in high places” also think such things as domestic survailliance, warrantless searches, and the suspension of Habeus Corpus are a good thing.

    I prefer liberty to tyranny, thanks.

  23. John,

    The Manhattan Project also wasn’t illegal.

  24. Crimethink,

    The NYT freely admits that this program was legal. That is the rub. If it were illegal, then the Times would have a point, but it is not illegal. In fact the Times themselves called for cracking down on terrorists finances in the wake of 9-11. This program was doing just that and the thanks the government gets is that very same Times revealing it.

  25. It was not only the NY Times who ran that story. So did the Wall Street Journal. So why they single out the NY Times?

    Is it because they think that no one reads the WST anyway?

  26. again, confuse not the editorial stance with the troops on the ground.

    just sayin’.

  27. John,

    It’s hard to imagine any way that revealing this program could possibly damage anything. Do you seriously believe that the terrorists had no idea anybody was trying to track their financial moves? Particularly given that the Bush Administration has stated numerous times over the years that they are doing a great job of exactly that? Somebody here had a great analogy the other day–it’s like if the Times did a story on the use of wiretaps to catch Mafiosi and the Administration started flipping out that it was a secret program.

    The only reason the Administration is complaining is because they think they can get political mileage out of it. It’s all B.S.

    Furthermore, the Times regularly withholds information based on the request of the government on the basis of national security. Check the link for some examples. You may disagree with their decisions, but it’s unfair to say they will just publish anything they get their hands on regardless of national security concerns.

  28. “Without getting into the details of this particular program, is it people’s opinion that the media should be able to reveal a secret program that is effective in tracking and cutting off funds to terrorists when the program is both legal and effective and revealing it will destroy the program’s effectivness?”

    How is a newspaper reporter supposed to know whether the story will destroy the program’s effeciveness? Caught stealing.

    Yes, the media “should be allowed” to publish anything it wants. The government is responsible for keeping its own secrets. Citizens, and the press in particular, are not to be shanghaied into helping the national security state with its business.

    “Why? That seems insane.” Because the question of whether the government should be allowed to intrude on people’s freedom and expand its power, in order to achieve a security benefit, is not a technical question to be answered by experts, but a philosophical and political question that only the people can answer.

    “What the purpose does it serve to reveal the program?” To allow the important decision of how much liberty to trade for security to be answered by the only authority with the legitimacy to make that decision, the People. And to keep the government on a short leash, and make sure they understand that they are NOT allowed to make these decisions for us, but with us.

  29. BTW, for people who are into proclaiming their superior patriotism and calling other traitors, right-wingers certainly do love to call for the deaths of their fellow Americans.

  30. So Joe,

    If the media had found out that the United States has cracked the Japanese Naval codes in 1942, they should have published that information and it would have been just the government’s fault for not keeping its own secrets. Look, the story of the cracking the codes and how it lead to the victory at Midway would have made one hell of a story circa 1943. I think the media would have been duty bound not to reveal the cracking of the codes had they found out about it. But, I think they are Americans who are journalists not journalists who happen to be Americans. If they view themselves some kind of supra national elite above all national interests, then get the hell out of the country.

  31. This is really too much! Michelle Malkin is not supposed to print the *public* phone number of a seditious, capitulationist lesbian, yet, the NYT can publish top secret information to the detriment of the U.S. and to the benefit of our cruel enemies. You Libertarian dope smokers really have your priorities mixed up. I also condemn your cowardly meme of Michelle Malkin causing the suicide of that mentally sick person in Santa Cruz.

  32. From 7.09.2006 Sun-Times, QT’s column:

    Shhhh! It’s a big secret

    Those still unhappy with the New York Times for mentioning the existence of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) in the effort to track terrorist money CAN ALWAYS VISIT ITS WEB SITE at http://www.swift.com

  33. “This is really too much! Michelle Malkin is not supposed to print the *public* phone number of a seditious, capitulationist lesbian, yet, the NYT can publish top secret information to the detriment of the U.S. and to the benefit of our cruel enemies. You Libertarian dope smokers really have your priorities mixed up. I also condemn your cowardly meme of Michelle Malkin causing the suicide of that mentally sick person in Santa Cruz. ”

    oh shit. man, i know in a few months this whole routine is gonna seem passe, but right now it’s comedy gold. don’t stop! you’ve got it locked way the hell down. i especially like mixing “libertarian dope smokers” with “cowardly meme” – it’s exactly the kinds of errors someone who took michelle malkin seriously would make.

  34. This is really too much! Michelle Malkin is not supposed to print the *public* phone number of a seditious, capitulationist lesbian, yet, the NYT can publish top secret information to the detriment of the U.S. and to the benefit of our cruel enemies. You Libertarian dope smokers really have your priorities mixed up. I also condemn your cowardly meme of Michelle Malkin causing the suicide of that mentally sick person in Santa Cruz.

    I can’t tell if this is a parody of a Malkin bot or the serious writing of a Malkin bot. Either way, it’s comedy gold.

  35. This is really too much! Michelle Malkin is not supposed to print the *public* phone number of a seditious, capitulationist lesbian, yet, the NYT can publish top secret information to the detriment of the U.S. and to the benefit of our cruel enemies. You Libertarian dope smokers really have your priorities mixed up. I also condemn your cowardly meme of Michelle Malkin causing the suicide of that mentally sick person in Santa Cruz.

    Comment by: Steven at July 10, 2006 02:24 PM

    You forgot to call us all traitors anxious for an Islamic invasion.

  36. John,

    “If the media had found out that the United States has cracked the Japanese Naval codes in 1942, they should have published that information and it would have been just the government’s fault for not keeping its own secrets.”

    1. “Should have” or “should have been legally prohibited from?”

    2. I’ll point to the important distinction between the battlefield and civil society. Information about operations on the battlefield, which is wholly distinct from what is going on in our neighborhoods, and which can lead to the death or military failure of specifics persons or units in specific actions, should rightly be subject to government censorship.

    3. Related to Point 2, whether or not the goverment is listening in on a foreign military’s communications is wholly irrelevant to the balancing act between liberty and security for the people of the United States, because, unlike listening to Americans’ phone calls or trolling through their bank records, there is no way for the interception of foreign military and diplomatic signals to reduce any American’s freedom.

    To sum up, there are three very important distinctions that your blunderbuss analysis misses – moral vs. legal, military vs. civil, and foreign vs. domestic.

  37. Dhex beat me by a minute and also used the phrase “comedy gold.” Maybe this is the internet version of showing up at a party wearing the same outfit.

  38. “You Libertarian dope smokers really have your priorities mixed up.”

    No…you’re so too much Steven. Effin Malkin!?!You’re going to bat for Malkin!?! Give me more seditious, capitulationist lesbian on seditious, capitulationist lesbian action and pass the dope, but leave the Malkin out of it.

  39. Oh, well, if she was a lesbian then it’s ok then.

    Thank you very much for making me aware of that incredibly significant, relevant detail. Because hounding people to suicide is ok, if the subject has sex in a manner you disapprove of, Steven.

  40. ok, yo, i think malkin was a fuckface for what she did but this lady was also stealing boucoup bucks and had many reasons to punch the recall button.

  41. >>>>You forgot to call us all traitors anxious for an Islamic invasion.

  42. >>>>You forgot to call us all traitors anxious for an Islamic invasion.

  43. >>>>You forgot to call us all traitors anxious for an Islamic invasion.<

    I can dig it, Jcavar. Maybe alcohol will be banned under you Islamist heroes, but hashish will be legal. For the dope smoking, Rightwing hippies of the Libetarian party, it’s a pretty fair tradeoff.

  44. Oh Steven! You’re too much…do you do parties?

  45. “I can dig it, Jcavar. Maybe alcohol will be banned under you Islamist heroes, but hashish will be legal. For the dope smoking, Rightwing hippies of the Libetarian party, it’s a pretty fair tradeoff.”

    ok, not bad, not bad at all.

    keep pushing the dope angle, it makes for a good hook. also, i like the mixing of “rightwing” and “hippies” – the whole “your islamist heroes” thing is a bit much, but the spelling mistake makes for a good save.

  46. Conservatives are supposed to be skeptical about unchecked power for the federal government. It is one of the principles that binds together a coalition of home-schoolers, federalists, gun owners, and tax cutters – the view that while the federal government may be necessary, its power should be checked at every available opportunity.

    Poor, delusional man.

  47. John –

    This is clearly a judgement call. However, given the Bush administration’s continuous half-truths and intentional deception of the American people, I believe the NYT made the right call. If there’s ever been an administration that needs to be rigorously checked by the free press, it is this administration. This administration outed a CIA operative, then lied about it, manipulated WMD intelligence to perrsuade the American people to support a war that was badly planned, then bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina, and then tried to cover up their tracks (the infamous videotape). Given the NYT’s record for correcting its mistakes and the Bush administration’s record for covering up lies, I’d say any rationale American citizen would say the NYT is more responsible in doing it’s duty than this administration.

  48. John –

    This is clearly a judgement call. However, given the Bush administration’s continuous half-truths and intentional deception of the American people, I believe the NYT made the right call. If there’s ever been an administration that needs to be rigorously checked by the free press, it is this administration. This administration outed a CIA operative, then lied about it, manipulated WMD intelligence to perrsuade the American people to support a war that was badly planned, then bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina, and then tried to cover up their tracks (the infamous videotape). Given the NYT’s record for correcting its mistakes and the Bush administration’s record for covering up lies, I’d say any rationale American citizen would say the NYT is more responsible in doing it’s duty than this administration.

  49. Incidentally,

    Has anyone compared this to the Plame fooferal and rounded up the Democratic and Republican excuses for:

    1) (for Dems) Why outing a single secret agent to the press is horrible, illegal, and should bring down the presidency, but outing an entire secret program is A-OK?

    2) (for Reps) Why it’s treason to reveal a program of this nature, but simply “declassification” for someone to leak the identity of a CIA agent?

  50. You mopes will be the first to scream “why isn’t the government doing its only legitimate job” if an attack gets through because the government stopped looking.

  51. Eric,

    For it to be a crime she has to be an agent (or an agent controller) as defined by law.

    Evidently Fitz hasn’t found any law broken yet.

    I do think you have a good point in the other direction.

  52. Who really belives that the NYT printed something that terrorists didn’t know?? Wasn’t it enough of a leak that in the days following September 11 the Bush Administration froze the assets of numerous terroist organizations and admitted to the public, then did so again in 2003? How, exactly, does this amount to treason, sedition, or in any way affect the War on Terror??

  53. You mopes will be the first to scream “why isn’t the government doing its only legitimate job” if an attack gets through because the government stopped looking.

    Yeah, let’s get rid of ALL the cops and see how you like it then!

  54. “You mopes will be the first to scream “why isn’t the government doing its only legitimate job” if an attack gets through because the government stopped looking.”

    that presumes an expectation of the government that some of us don’t actually have, sir.

  55. I’m with kwix. It wasn’t news that the government was spying on terrorists, or people for whom there was evidence of terrorist ties. We already knew that.

    The news was that the government is spying on all of us indiscriminately. I have no problem with efforts that focus on people from whom there is evidence of terrorist involvement. I have big problems with indiscriminate efforts. Even leaving aside the privacy and Constitutional issues, there’s the issue of drinking from a fire hose: Do you think that indiscriminate efforts are more likely to succeed than focused, intelligent efforts?

  56. I do love the non-stop cunt-fest where little girls with big cocksuckers play at being yentas.

    Limited hangout. Rove sucker-punched the NYT.

    Sure, y’all and the Gray Lady would sell out your grandma to look cool and hip with yer other black suited angst-ridden pasty faced bone-smokers. We get it.

    You are right, the cover was already blown to the camel jockey pig-fuckers. So the fuck what, it still makes GW look swaggering to all of them chicken-hawk NASCAR dads and bleach-blonde barbies in Memphis.

    Put that in your Kos and smoke it.

  57. are you auditioning for blue collar tv or something? i like your high-low brow style. you’re angry at everyone, and no one. you’re like everyman with an internet connection. you leave everyone wondering: is it complex misogyny or simple sexual frustration?

    who cares? it’s ratings dynamite! baby, stick with me and i’ll make you a star!

  58. If we don’t stop newpapers leaking critical information on the “War on Terror”, what will stop them from releasing sensitive information on the “War on Poverty” and “War on Drugs”?

  59. Conservatives are supposed to be skeptical about unchecked power for the federal government.

    Sure, but only a moron (or a member of the Libertarian Party… but I repeat myself) thinks that “skeptical about government power” means “automatically opposed to every aspect of government power”.

    It is also dippy to equate “prosecuting people who endanger American lives by leaking military secrets during wartime” with “unchecked government power”. Unchecked government power would be shooting them WITHOUT a trial. But public trials for criminal actions that harmed the public for the benefit of the criminal? That’s not unchecked government power — indeed, that’s exactly what we have government power *for*.

  60. It is also dippy to equate “prosecuting people who endanger American lives by leaking military secrets during wartime” with “unchecked government power”.

    It’s even dippier to repeat a claim (endangering American lives) that has zero evidence to support it.

  61. I just think it’s funny that “SHUT THE FUCK UP” is in the title of an article in a magazine named Reason.

    Doesn’t seem reasonable.

  62. John Says
    “The primary purpose of a government is to protect its citizens from foreighn threats.”

    Really? Then why did our founding fathers dislike a standing army and preach against it? Our constitution says we are not suppose to have one. We were given a right to bear arms for the purpose of defense. We, not the government are responsible for protecting ourselves from threats. No other country can sucessfully invade us, not because the government will stop them, gun toting Americans will.

    The federal government was created not because the 13 states need protection, but for regulation of commerce.

    Newspapers report on things they think the public should be aware about and as noted in another post it’s not just the NY Times that printed the story but only the NY Times is taking the heat. The republican issue is not the subject matter, nor is it the person that gave the press the info, it’s about beating up something liberal in an election year. If you’ve been paying attention, elections are no longer won in good faith, but by rallying behing the hate of something. I couldn’t find one person that had a real logical reason for voting the way they did in the 2004 election. It was all about hating the other party. We have become a nation of hate. It’s hard to find a message board where people are not calling each other names and spewing hatered.

    In the past few years I have realized, that the so called Republican values are nothing but a line of B.S. and probably never existed. I believe in them and I feel really let down by the Republicans in power. In my scant 42 years of life I have yet to see a fiscally responsible, government limiting act by Republicans when in power. They talk the talk as a means to get power but when they get it, they abandon their own alledged philosophy and act like the Democrats.

    Since when is supporting an all knowing, all spying government a Republican value? I would think that a right-winger would take the stance of my doings are between myself and god, not myself and my government.

    There are people in this government that want to have a database or linked database containing every piece of information on every citizen they can dig up. What are those who claim to believe in limited government doing about it? They are complaining someone let the cat out of the bag! So much for being defenders of limited government!

    I ask this, How much personal information should a responsible, and good government need to know? Is there such a thing as too much information in the hands of government?

    I believe in the 2nd amendment.
    I believe in limited government.
    I believe in our Constitution as written.
    I believe in fiscal responsibility.
    It’s funny and odd, that I get called a liberal all day for defending those so called republican values

  63. What foreign threats? we have threats domestic.. They are called “POLITICIANS”

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