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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Friday, July 14, 2006

More Debate On The Release Of National Security Secrets To the World...

Jacob Weisberg's article in Slate, Why the Times shouldn't have published its story makes some interesting points on the rights and responsibility of the press...
The first thing to say about this fight is that conservative claims about the media's supposed motivations in publishing both the NSA and SWIFT stories reflect only ideology and ignorance. Editors at the New York Times and other major American newspapers do not pursue stories of this kind because of animus against the Bush administration or a wish to help terrorists. They struggle mightily with such decisions and often do, in the name of national security, withhold, delay, or modify what they would otherwise publish. The legal basis for prosecuting journalists who reveal classified information is tenuous, and demands to do so betray a fundamental lack of appreciation for the bedrock principle of the First Amendment.

All that said, let me depart from the liberal consensus and argue that the New York Times, while acting in good faith, made the wrong call by printing the SWIFT story.
I am not one that like conspiracy theories and some claims that the press motivations reflect difference in 'ideology and ignorance' are only partially true. I think that the press has always been hostile to the Bush administration, particularly the liberal press, led by the New York Times. So when one sees SWIFT revelations, one has to wonder what their motivations are. But, as Shenzhen Zen told me, he doesn't think that the press has time for petty shenanigans and are more concerned with putting out a readable product than spending time creating complex trouble for any political figure. However, one has to wonder, given the release of the SWIFT story and, as even Weisberg's point out, that the value and merits of releasing this story are weak at the very best, one has to wonder if the NYT's is losing their capacity to make sensible decisions. Even if they weren't just being malicious and made a stupid decision, people like us have to make sure and have the responsibility as citizens and responsibility to our children and communities that they understand that there is a line in the sand and that if they cross it, we have to push back.

Also, I find the continuous use of the 1st Amendment defense as inadequate and does not overtake common sense... Weisberg talks about the troop movement considerations in releasing timely information and the potential cost to people's lives. However, that consideration was founded during the days of WWII where 10,000 of thousands of American troops were at risk in troop transport ships destined for Europe and pursued by German Wolf Pack U-boats determined to sink them. This falls in the area of common sense, why publish information that the enemy can use to your detriment and cost the lives of our soldiers and people. And the press has to now consider in this area of asymmetrical warfare, where the common sense and duty to the people over-take their 1st Amendment right to pursue all avenues of information. Otherwise, the 1st Amendment trumps everything, even the anachronistic troop movement model and the press, in additional to everyone else, has the right to publish or disseminate anything to anybody under the 1st Amendment umbrella. Nuclear secrets, names of CIA operatives,...anything. It just doesn't sound like something to me that is desirable or workable.

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