To be fair, the New York Times wasn’t the only media outlet to have published the stolen State Department documents irresponsibly released by the ever-so-slimy Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who has apparently made it his mission in life to embarrass the United States as much as possible. To continue being fair, the New York Times did offer the administration a first look at what it intended to publish and the documents it had obtained.
However, the hypocritical, uneven, and biased attitude displayed by the Times when publishing this particular tranche of leaked proprietary information vice the supercilious, pretentious and self-aggrandizing attitude with which it haughtily refused to publish the leaked emails from East Anglia University, which showed efforts by certain scientists in the climate research community to hide information that didn’t fit their mission to destroy capitalism by wielding a green bat, is telling.
Not that we didn’t already know that the Times is anything but objective and leans heavily left. Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past several years could observe the political leanings of those in charge. This is no revelation. I’m simply pointing out the specific hypocrisy with which the Times addressed both situations.
In a NYT opinion, Andrew Rivkin disdainfully stated that he would not be publishing the Climategate documents, because *GASP!* they were illegally obtained, and the people who wrote them had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
I have a story in The Times on the incident and its repercussions, which continue to unfold. But there’s much more to explore, of course (including several references to me). The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here. But a quick sift of skeptics’ Web sites will point anyone to plenty of sources.
Meanwhile, in an explanation to its readers as to why the Times would choose to publish classified State Department information (because we can, and we think you’ll read us more often if we do), the editors explained that, well… it’s the public’s right to know, dammit! And really – why not! These documents would be made public no matter what the Times decided to do, and therefore, why not go ahead and publish them anyway, making it easier for any Tom, Dick or Terrorist to read and use to their advantage.
Of course, most of these documents will be made public regardless of what The Times decides. WikiLeaks has shared the entire archive of secret cables with at least four European publications, has promised country-specific documents to many other news outlets, and has said it plans to ultimately post its trove online. For The Times to ignore this material would be to deny its own readers the careful reporting and thoughtful analysis they expect when this kind of information becomes public.
But the more important reason to publish these articles is that the cables tell the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money. They shed light on the motivations — and, in some cases, duplicity — of allies on the receiving end of American courtship and foreign aid. They illuminate the diplomacy surrounding two current wars and several countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where American military involvement is growing. As daunting as it is to publish such material over official objections, it would be presumptuous to conclude that Americans have no right to know what is being done in their name.
The Times wouldn’t publish the Climategate emails, because they were stolen, and they were ostensibly private communications between scientists (who were ostensibly plotting to use fraud to push a political agenda), but communications between State Department employees, discussing allies and adversaries apparently don’t deserve the same type of respect.
The Times wouldn’t publish the Climategate emails, because they were illegally obtained – and we know the Times is well above that kind of thievery! (Please note sarcasm here, for those who are challenged). I guess classified reports stolen by a disgruntled Army PFC and illegally passed on to an ethically-challenged website owner, who is dedicated to bringing down the US, isn’t considered theft, right?
In an update to his original arrogant refusal to print the Climategate documents, Rivkin attempts to weasel out of his own words by claiming that he eventually changed his mind about the scientists’ expectation of privacy, and that while the Times was apparently too good and moral to publish the stolen emails, he did provide a link to others who did.
First, while I initially did not publish the contents of the climate files and e-mails (at the request of Times lawyers, considering the uncertain provenance and authenticity of the materials at the time), I did (from the start) provide links to the caches of material set up elsewhere on the Web.
Second, in the rush on the day the files were distributed across the Web, I called them “private” when, in fact, I should have said their senders had presumed they were private. As I’ve said off and on since then, given that much of the research discussed in the exchanges was done using taxpayers’ money, any expectation of privacy wasn’t justified.]
I’m fairly sure that State Department employees also presumed their communications were private – especially the ones that were… oh, I don’t know… CLASSIFIED! And I would submit to you that government officials discussing matters of national security among themselves have more of a right to expect privacy than scientists using government money to perpetuate political fraud!
And even though the Times claims it took care to ensure that it didn’t publish information that would compromise national security, I would submit that their editors and reporters aren’t educated or versed in intelligence enough to know what would and would not compromise national security. Our enemies, on the other hand, well trained in exploitation would and do. Would communications between government officials (presumed to be private) discussing our allies and critical of their military actions, achievements, etc. compromise national security? Not to the NYT. They’re merely snarky emails about foreign government officials that would be interesting to the public. Would they compromise relationships? Surely. Would they compromise liaisons with sources? Yep. Would it compromise our ability to collect information? Yep. Does the NYT care? Apparently not.
Those expecting my usual level of vitriol in this will be disappointed. I’ve already stated my opinion on Assange and his pathetic mission to discredit our nation. I don’t need to go there again. I’ve also numerous times stated my views on the media and its responsibility to not just its readers but to its nation as a whole. Just because you have the information and technically have the right to disseminate it, doesn’t mean you should. The Times and other media outlets – out of a sense of decency – should have refrained, even though others did not. But I can’t dictate their sense of morality any more than anyone else.
I just find it sad that a disgruntled Army Private would consciously and intentionally compromise the nation he swore under oath to protect and defend, and that the very media outlets that enjoy the freedoms this nation offe
rs by its founding principles use those principles to compromise said nation.
I also find it loathsome that some civil libertarian types are cheering this latest disclosure. Folks, I’m as libertarian as they come, but I’m also realistic enough to understand the need for national security and the reality of the world in which we live, having been deployed and having served in the military for nearly a decade. While I’m not thrilled with our internationalist bent, our activities around the world that force us to stick our noses in affairs that shouldn’t be our purview and the consequent need to utilize massive amounts of resources to uphold these missions, fact of the matter is that is the current policy, and releasing classified information that compromises our standing in the world and our relationships with our allies won’t change said policy.
All it will do is facilitate the ultimate creation of yet another bureaucracy that expends time and resources dealing with these leaks – tech people whose mission it will be to build yet more cumbersome and expensive infrastructure to protect from future leaks, which will likely be compromised in another way by another enterprising traitor, analysts to spend days, weeks and months examining leaked information and writing reports on its impacts, overtime paid, because this mission is critical… you get the picture. What it won’t do is force the government to be more open, but will force many of us who do have a legitimate mission here to divert our attention to the latest irresponsible leak of information. Is that what you civil libertarians want?
No, I’m sure it isn’t. What they do want is to stick it to “da man.” Ultimately, this isn’t about government accountability, but rather a gloating fist in the air that someone has gotten away with embarrassing the establishment. Assange and those who support him are the dirty hippies of the 21st century – nothing more, nothing less.
And Manning, the PFC who handed classified information over to WikiLeaks – he’s simply a traitor who violated his oath and should be treated as such.