Posted on January 4, 2006
Well, tortured logic, anyway. How else could you explain the NYT’s attempt to occupy the moral high ground by claiming to discern a convenient distinction between the Plamegate affair on the one hand, and their revealing of the NSA terrorist monitoring capability on the other?
The first at its heart involves nothing more than the usual inside-the-beltway rough and tumble: A partisan operative tries to make political hay against the other side, who in turn attempts, in classic form, to impeach the critic’s motives and integrity.
The NSA leak fiasco on the other hand exposed an exceptionally sensitive and extremely classified technical capability, one that a wartime Commander-in-Chief avers prevented actual terrorist attacks against the nation. It is a program that, despite the full-throated howls of those whose outrage is ever tailored to fit their political perspective, continues to be publicly and vigorously defended as legal, appropriate and necessary.
Capabilities like this are jealously guarded and access carefully controlled. Leaking that capability was a felony crime, as the leaker had to know, and the damage done to national security in a time of war by publishing the leak has the potential to be exceptionally grave.
Now contrast that with the fact that only current indictment emanating from the Plamegate investigation came not from the ostensible and narrowly defined crime being charged, but from the sequelae of the investigation itself. Add to that perversity the fact the “outing” itself was no more than an off-hand confirmation of something so well known inside a notoriously loose-lipped political culture so as to render it intrinsically worthless.
Internalize all of that and then read this:
When the government does not want the public to know what it is doing, it often cites national security as the reason for secrecy. The nation’s safety is obviously a most serious issue, but that very fact has caused this administration and many others to use it as a catchall for any matter it wants to keep secret, even if the underlying reason for the secrecy is to prevent embarrassment to the White House. The White House has yet to show that national security was harmed by the report on electronic spying, which did not reveal the existence of such surveillance – only how it was being done in a way that seems outside the law. (Emphasis mine.)
Now, firstly watch as the Times asserts as true (because they say so!) the ludicrous and self-serving accusation that this capability was classified in order to avoid embarrassing the White House. Far from being embarrassed, the Administration is clearly proud of what they’ve done to defend the country. Then read that last bolded bit, as impenetrable as it is and ask whether it was crafted by a J-school grad from Columbia, or an L-school grad from Harvard. The kind of guy who could look you in the eye and, just for example, bite his lip a little and tell you that it depends upon what your definition of “is” is.
Forgivable perhaps, in a politician. Pathetic and absurd in the journal of record.