For a moment, let's flashback to a hypothetical conversation being held on May 15, 1944. We break in on a phone conference between the Roosevelt administration and a managing editor of the New York Times. The White House is pleading with the nation's so-called "newspaper of record" not to publish some information leaked to the publication regarding the June 5th 1944 planned invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe/Normandy. The White House representative contends releasing the story will cost the lives of thousands of Allied soldiers. The managing editor of the New York Times responds by saying, it's in the best interest of the public to know and on June 1st publishes the top secret story. The invasion does not take place on June 5th because of bad weather in the English Channel and instead goes forward on June 6th. As a result of the New York Times piece, American troops and their allies are thrown back into the sea and Hitler's death machine on the European Continent is allowed to continue for many years into the future. As a result, instead of six million Jews being killed in places like Auschwitz, the final number totals 10 million. Also, as many as eight million others, who languish in Nazi concentration camps, see their demise. Add to this, the expanded numbers of Allied troops who will die because of the war's extension. Millions of civilians will also perish because the war has been prolonged. Remember, this all occurs because the New York Times contended Americans had the right to know about the secret plans concerning the United States war against fascism.
Of course, such a scenario would have never taken place in 1944 America. The Roosevelt administration would not have pleaded with any publication regarding the release of top secret military plans to defeat the nation's enemy. The New York Times building would have been closed down, their files would have been confiscated and the offices would have been surrounded by military police--while the newspaper's publishers would have been facing charges of treason.
Let's fast forward to the present. The United States is in a life and death struggle with a group of fanatics who desire to kill everyone in the world who do not share their religious beliefs. Their targets include men, women and children. These terrorists receive funding through a worldwide banking system which makes available millions of dollars to accomplish their goals at the touch of a keyboard.
Such was the case concerning a classified program initiated by the U.S. Treasury Department which prevented groups like Al Qaeda for profiting from such transactions. The intelligence program was successful. Select members of both political parties were aware of the strategy and the program broke no laws. However, after considering the pleadings of the Bush administration, the New York Times decided to run with the story which detailed the secret and highly successful operation. Hence, the covert and legal tool which lead to the arrest of at least one major Al Qaeda operative and numerous other players in the terrorist organization is no longer secret. Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, conveniently hides behind the alleged "public's best interest," argument to justify his newspaper's publication of the article. However, common sense makes one wonder how such a story can be considered in the public's best interest, if it jeopardizes the lives of the people it is meant to inform.
Thankfully, there is sanity in our country today. U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is calling for an investigation of the New York Times, citing the nation's security was impacted by the newspaper's actions. The New York Times could be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, according to some legal experts. "The New York Times are recidivists," said King, in reference to another New York Times story which revealed a National Security Agency (NSA) program that monitored phone calls made in the U.S. to possible terrorists overseas. After the New York Times brought that classified program to the public's attention, it must be noted that nearly every member of Congress who reviewed the NSA initiative said it was an invaluable tool in America's war against terror. Both Democrats and Republicans acknowledged the need for this type of intelligence-gathering and said the civil rights of the public were not in jeopardy due to its implementation.
But, once again, the New York Times felt it was necessary to inform the enemy of the methods being used by the United States government to fight them.
Indeed, during the inspection of the fortified dwelling, where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi met his doom at the end of two 500 pound laser-guided bombs dropped from above, a copy of Newsweek was found among the wreckage, close to al-Zarqawi's near lifeless body. It has been reported the infamous terrorist had highlighted a column by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. It is apparent terrorists are planning their insurgency by reading reports and columns published in the West. Amazingly, one of Newsweek's editors went so far as to criticize Alter on Don Imus' Morning Show (cable, MSNBC) who shamelessly was taking pride in the fact ruthless killers were reading his work while planning their insurgent mayhem.
It's safe to say if some politicians on the radical left and members of the media were allowed to act with no regard for America's security, the United States may have lost World War II. It's also safe to assume if this kind of irresponsible journalism continues, the civilized world may lose the war against terror as well. It's a sad day when individuals put journalism ahead of the welfare of their country and its citizens, especially when that country provides the journalistic freedom many members of the media enjoy while being protected by the Constitution. Do they understand these rights would be only a dream, if the U.S. were to be defeated by the radical elements that wage war against us today? To state the unthinkable, we may well lose the war against terror, but, in this case, it will not be the enemy's abroad who will defeat us.
Editor's note: This column was first published June 27, 2006
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