Accuracy in Media

Our readers have reacted with outrage to the disclosure by James Risen and the New York Times of a secret NSA spying program into al-Qaeda operations on U.S. soil. A 22-year veteran of the Air Force noted that top secret information is defined as material whose release could cause grave damage to the United States. He asked, “What would you call information that allows Osama bin Laden to avoid capture or allow his plans to proceed?”

He added, “Somebody blabbed some secrets that were way above anything I ever had access to. If there is Justice, those some bodies will get to do some hard time in North East Kansas-meaning Leavenworth.”

Meantime, NewsMax broke the story of how Italian authorities, using wiretaps, arrested three Algerians connected to al-Qaeda planning a 9/11-type attack on the U.S. The story got little attention in the U.S. “My impression is that the major media want to use the NSA story to try and impeach the President,” I told NewsMax.

Erick Stakelbeck of CBN followed up with an excellent piece. Why are the media so intent on playing down the ongoing threats to our country and our people?  I told Stakelbeck: “Because if they remind us that the threat exists, then that tends to support the position of the President, that he has to have the power to stop and monitor and thwart these al-Qaeda operations on American soil.”

Richard Miniter said, “I think the news judgment of the news directors and editors at major broadcast outlets and newspapers is profoundly blinkered by politics. They think of this war on terror as Bush’s war, not America’s war.”

On the matter of the NSA monitoring international calls without recourse to the FISA court, Roger W. Barnett, Professor Emeritus at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, tells us:

“Why has no one mentioned the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998?  This legislation was specifically designed to permit employees of the intelligence community to contact the Congress to report perceived irregularities, but because of the sensitivity of the information-the concern that national security would be jeopardized-the route for contact was designated to be through the Intelligence Committees of the Congress only.  So, there is a legal, established route for whomever went to the New York Times to divulge his or her information, avoiding thereby the attendant compromise of classified information.

“Indeed,  it is a crime to divulge classified information so, by publishing the  information, does that not make the New York Times an accessory to  the crime?  A fence receives stolen property, and thus is an accessory to the larceny; why, then, is the NYT not an accessory in the same sense and liable for criminal sanctions.  Moreover, should not the Times have properly advised the whistleblower of the Act, and to proceed in the manner provided for in the legislation? Can one assume that both the whistleblower and the Times were ignorant of the Act?  (The Times, we’re told, sat on the story for a year, so it had plenty of time to get smart on the legislation; and the employee should certainly have been aware of the Act.) The Times and the leaker should be prosecuted both for revelation of classified information, and for failure to comply with the Whistleblower Protection Act.”

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