On Monday’s Diane Rehm show on National Public Radio, the arrogance of The New York Times was on full display. Times reporter Eric Lichtblau was a guest on the program discussing the story the Times published on Friday disclosing a secret anti-terror program designed to follow the money. Among the claims made by Lichtblau were, The New York Times determined this anti-terror program was a matter for national debate, the Bush administration is trying to score political points by feigning outrage over the disclosure of this program, and that none of the sources who disclosed the program had political motives.
Lichtblau ,and fortunately for the war on terror and the national security of America he didn't cite an example to back up this claim, wants listeners to believe:
"Um, you know, we’re not gonna just take a leak and run with it. We, you know, carefully look at the facts of the case to decide whether or not it’s worth publishing and I think it’s important to remember that there’s information that we at the New York Times and other papers keep out of the public domain all the time because we agree that yes, this could compromise a source and method, this could actually help the bad guys."
However, the actions of The New York Times suggests otherwise.
First, that Lichtman believes that the New York Times has the right to divulge a classified program designed to prevent terrorist attacks and in the process endanger the lives of Americans is the ultimate hubris:
"Umm, you know, the paper in the end decided that this was a matter for public debate and, you know, we realize they’re going to be people who’d be critical of that decision, there’d be others who would be glad to hear it."
When did "The New York Times" gain the authority to unilaterally declassify information? And to those who would argue the First Amendment gives them this right, the First Amendment is not absolute. This revelation by "The New York Times" is potentially hundreds of times more deadly than somebody yelling fire in a crowded theater.
Lichtblau also argued that the administration’s outrage at this disclosure is designed to score political points by attacking the patriotism of the media:
Diane Rehm: "What do you think is the administration’s strategy in making the media the, uh, scapegoat if you will in this whole story, Eric?"
Eric Lichtblau: "Well I think it’s um, the same parallel we saw after the NSA story, where, you know, the administration has made a political calculation that there is benefit to showing themselves to be strong on terrorism, that they are willing to do everything that they possibly can within the law to fight terrorism and to, you know, people who would criticize that effort are put in the opposing camp."
To the "mainstream"media the administration can’t be outraged over the possibility that "The New York Times" in its quest for a story may have put countless American lives in danger. Instead, to quote Ms. Rehm, the administration is trying to make the media into a scapegoat.
Lastly, Lichtblau claimed that none of his sources for this story had political motives:
Diane Rehm: "Eric, were you concerned that the people you talked with had political as opposed to ethical or civic concerns."
Eric Lichtblau: "I saw no sign that the people that I talked to were motivated by political concerns."
Diane Rehm: "I gather you talked to about twenty sources."
Eric Lichtblau: "Yeah, we said in the story nearly twenty people. I think that people have all different reasons for why they’re willing to disclose certain things. I think it’s a mistake for your listeners to think that leakers, as people like to call them, are motivated by political smear campaigns, are out to hurt the President. I think that’s an over simplification of why people put themselves in that position."
Twenty anonymous sources, and not a single one with political motives? If there were twenty sources out to embarrass a high profile Democrat, would the Times view them as impartial or would they be viewed as skeptical. Well, maybe this conclusion proves Lichtblau is right, maybe the Times doesn't just a leak and run with it.But, nevertheless, the paper should tell readers who the twenty people are, let us judge their motives. It is widely accepted that this money tracking program was legal, so what other conclusion can be made than these sources and the "The New York Times" were out to undermine the Bush Administration, and in the process, undermined the war on terror.