About a year ago, the New York Times uncovered evidence that the National Security Agency, under direct orders from the President, conducted unlawful surveillance of American citizens. The significance of this cannot be overstated – A foreign intelligence agency, working out of the White House was, spying on Americans! And what does the NYT do with this shocking discovery? At the request of the perpetrators of the unlawful behavior, the Times agreed to spike the story.
A statement by the Times said that they were asked not to run the story because it might interfere with ongoing investigations. Based on that request, with no evidence or corroboration, they capitulated and held back on a story that had implications of impeachable violations of federal law. For a news organization that has recently been stung by revelations of impropriety and bias on the part of its, now former and disgraced, reporter, Judith Miller, I don’t know if it’s surprising or to be expected that this should occur. And for an administration that has been riddled with ethical breaches (no WMDs, Katrina response, Abramoff, election irregularities, etc.) their non-chalant demeanor in the face of this new crime is astonishing.
The administration is not embarrassed by its criminality. On the contrary, it is going on the attack. This morning, the president gave a belligerently defensive speech saying in part:
Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.
Despite offering no evidence that our enemies have benefited from this, he is castigating the media for doing what it should have done a year ago. And if he truly cared about the harm that may result from revealing classified information, you would think he would do something about the members of his circle that disclosed the identity of CIA operative, Valerie Plame. Instead all he does is shift blame to the media, a media that deserves blame, but not for what the President thinks.