Sunday, May 21, 2006


That’s the title of Salena Zito’s latest column. Consider it must reading. Here’s some of Salena’s best zingers:

When is it OK to sacrifice national security for personal gain or political one-upmanship? For the common-sense-challenged, the answer is: “Never.” In the years since Sept. 11, an odd assembly of Capitol Hill-types, their staffers and disgruntled federal employees from myriad intelligence agencies have played the “gotcha game” with the White House’s methods of protecting the citizenry.

The types of things that reporters are getting away with, at least thus far, wouldn’t have been tolerated during WWII. Giving the enemy information that will hurt our national security is unconscienable, of course. The Agenda Media, which has generally hated President Bush from Day One, appears to think there’s two exceptions to that rule: (a) if it’s something that’ll get them an award or (b) if it’ll hurt the Bush Administration. Of course, the likelihood of (a) happening is greatly enhanced if it involves (b).

Enabled by the media (which, by the way, have Ph.D.s in “gotcha”), they have become desensitized to the reasons some things must remain secret. They’re making secret-revealing an extreme sport.

Awhile back, a CNN reporter said that they considered themselves a reporter first and American second. It’s obvious that this contributes to this gotcha game. The bad part is that this ‘gotcha game’ puts American lives at risk.

Let’s not put all of this on the reporters’ shoulders, either. Blame must also be affixed to the editors and publishers, too, for letting this information find its way to print. While it’s true that alot of things that are classified that don’t need to be, it’s obvious that the NSA’s Terrorist Surveillance Program that the NY Times ‘broke’ and the CIA’s black sites story that the Washington Post’s Dana Priest won a Pulitzer for aren’t in the category of needlessly classified.

The CIA story, in particular, put our allies at risk of terrorist attacks. Didn’t Ms. Priest think that that should be the most important consideration? Doesn’t she care that these countries likely won’t help us again?

Have we as a nation forgotten the basics of the art of war? Are we so misguided as to believe that the ACLU will protect us better than the NSA in this era of terrorism? Intel techniques, which never should be made available for public consumption, provide an essential means for preventing new attacks on Americans’ lives. That’s “prevent attacks on Americans’ lives,” not “intrude on Americans’ lives.”

Ms. Zito, like alot of Americans, takes this type of mindset personally. And why shouldn’t she? This type of journalism is putting real people at risk. That fact seems lost on the Eric Lichtblaus, James Risens and Dana Priests of the world. They don’t care because their concern is about the story and the awards. Add in Risen’s book deal and it’s predictable what he’s most likely to care about. Don’t think it coincidence that the NSA story broke a week before Risen’s book was released. Let’s hope that Risen and his reporting compatriots noticed that the book isn’t selling very well.

Some people, in their lust to be dethroners of all things Bush, seem to forget why intel leaks from any government entity hold the potential for harm. Our enemies do learn things from leaks. Thanks to that little thing called the Internet, stories about the NSA can be read in some cave in Afghanistan.

These reporters don’t care if the things they report hurt national security, especially if they think the leaks will hurt President Bush. Let’s hope that the Justice Department cracks down on the reporters that put our nation at risk. If they get court-approved wiretaps to catch the villains, all the better. The irony would be delicious.

The fact is that the Bush Administration’s ratings would probably rise if they took down the reporters that put American lives at risk.

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