Thursday, June 29, 2006

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Pssst.... want to listen to a podcast?
Did the New York Times endanger national security by publicizing the existence of the US governmentís SWIFT program, designed to track the funding of international terrorists? Or was the news organization simply an agent of the publicís right and need to know the actions of the US Government?
You can hear my (muddled) take on this question in Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review, which I taped with Austin Bay, Eric Umansky, and La Shawn Barber. Other topic discussed include the Bus Uncle.
posted by Dan on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM




Comments:

Hey Daniel, I was reading through some old articles in Foreign Affairs Magazine and read your article, "The Outsourcing Bogeyman" from May/June 2004. I just wanted to let you know that I thought it was a great article. Do you know what has happened to those bills that were supposedly going to outlaw outsourcing?

posted by: Taylor Baldwin on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



Daniel I'm confused. You said that because this has gone public that other countries will be more reluctant to cooperate with SWIFT, and that terrorists will alter their actions so the money doesn't go through SWIFT. Yet you then say that the story didn't hurt our ability to catch terrorists. But if either of those happen, wouldn't that hurt the program's ability to catch terrorists?

posted by: Jeff on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



I'm confused. Aren't there limits to the public's right to know? For example, the exact time and place of the Normandy invasion, the real names of undercover agents, the location of Alan Greenspan's crystal ball? If the NYT does not agree with the war or the President's methods, don't they still have an obligation as patriots to allow our govt to wage the war unimpeded by our own citizens? The WSJ has an excellent editorial on this subject at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115163079557294963.html?mod=hps_us_my_topics.

posted by: OpenBorderMan on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



I just realized that I answered my own question. If the NYT editors were motivated purely by circulation and profits, without regard for the impact on national security, they still might "hold their fire" in a few cases just for the sake of balance. It seems clear that they are actively fighting for the other side.

posted by: OpenBorderMan on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



Quite frankly, in the face of an authoritarian government, the Times had an absolute responsibility to publish. The "War on Terror" is not a war, but a matter of criminal investigations on a national and international level, and the Bush administration is overstepping its authority with warrantless, unsuperverised investigations that exclude wide representation and oversight by Congress. And wide representation and oversight doesn't mean the Republican leadership, who take their marching orders directly from Karl Rove.

Until we have Constitutional amendments limiting both Presidential and Congressional authority, we will be under attack from ever increasing authoritarian representatives from both major parties, since only extremists can get elected. That is the legacy of Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich, and will be the eventual downfall of this nation if we don't take actions to limit it now.

posted by: flaime on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



Flaime,
That's right, I forgot. If you don't agree with the goals or methods of the war, or if you are on the other side, it's tactically easier to just say it's not a war, therefore different rules apply. Regardless of where you sit on the left-right spectrum, all three branches of our govt are in agreement that we are in a war against a loose coalition of terrorist groups.

If you are concerned about the president overstepping his bounds, lets figure out a way to change our laws to account for this new type of war. Calling it a police investigation does nothing constructive.

posted by: OpenBorderMan on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



OpenBorderMan,

You are 100% wrong.

Congress declares war, that hasn't happened.

Period.

posted by: Rick Latshaw on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



Now I've kicked a hornets nest. This only goes to prove how sadly out-of-date the process is. Congress has not declared war since 1941, yet we have been in a lot of wars. Congress authorizes the funds, the president directs operations, the courts occasionally intervene to clarify the roles, as they have in every "non-war" in the past 65 years. Saying we are not at war is pure sophistry. The reality is not so black and white. Let's figure out a new way to deal with the new reality.

posted by: OpenBorderMan on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



"Aren't there limits to the public's right to know? For example, the exact time and place of the Normandy invasion"

This is THE QUESTION. And I think everybody agrees, there is a limit to the public's right to know. The Normandy invasion seems to be the counterexample du jour, but there are plenty. What if the FBI had a secret method of tracking down pedophiles, or serial killers, or the social security numbers and personal data of 26 million veterans that were just stolen, or your personal social security number and personal data, etc etc-would the fact that its secret justify exposing it? All government secrets aren't wartime, and all government secrets aren't related to the policies of George Bush that you happen to disagree with.

So the question remains; what are the limits of the public's right to know? And why is the press justified in literally breaking the law by exposing this program-because you personally happen to not like it? Because you personally happen to dislike Bush? Because you personally happen to dislike US policy right now?

"Quite frankly, in the face of an authoritarian government,"

Unless you agree with nonsense like the above, you will have a tough time coming up with a defensible policy for exposing secret programs like the SWIFT program.

Steve

posted by: Steve on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



Plain and simple the Left will wage war on the war against al-Qaeda. And if it gets more people killed than otherwise would have been, so be it. They want power and that's all that matters to them. If a de facto alliance with jihad is necessary then that's what they will do.

posted by: andrew on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]




And why is the press justified in literally breaking the law by exposing this program-because you personally happen to not like it?

What law did the press literally break ?

I also happen to think this should have not been published, but I do not believe the NYTimes broke any law by publishing it.

THe WSJ's op-ed might have been more interesting if someone on the news side had commened on it, rather than on the opinion side, since the opinion side is well known for playing fast and loose with the facts.

posted by: erg on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]



erg,
Your bias is clouding your judgement. Since when is the WSJ editorial board "well known for playing fast and loose with the facts?" Just because you don't agree with them, doesn't mean that they are making up facts. Obviously, given the same facts, NYT and WSJ come up with very different opinions. That's America.

The law that the NYT theoretically may have broken is the Espionage Act. Now maybe you don't agree that this is a good law. Or maybe you don't think the US is currently at war. Or maybe you think we are at war, but a system to track the funds of the enemy does not constitute a war secret. These are opinions that you are entitled to hold. But some of us would disagree strongly.

posted by: OpenBorderMan on 06.29.06 at 11:05 PM [permalink]






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