A trend is developing whereby reporters for the New York Times let their hair down, drop any pretense of objectivity, and ream the Bush Administration. First it was Linda Greenhouse, the Times Supreme Court reporter. Now it’s James Risen, the Times reporter who revealed the administration’s highly classified NSA terrorist-surveillance program.
Speaking at Brown University, as reported  by the college paper, Risen assailed the administration for creating a “climate of fear” within government agencies. The paper said, “Risen said the administration of President George W. Bush has limited press freedom more than any administration since former President Richard Nixon’s, adding that government officials are scared to talk to reporters.” Risen was quoted as saying, “(The fear) is palpable. It’s been frightening to watch.”
Frankly, government officials should be scared of disclosing information that can cost American lives.
The paper added that “Risen said Times editors delayed publishing the NSA story because the Bush administration pressured them to scrap the piece. In an Oval Office meeting, Bush told Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger that if the story’s publication curbed anti-terrorism efforts and terrorists struck again, the paper would have ‘blood on its hands.'”
Needless to say, this didn’t stop the paper from publishing the story. And, unfortunately, the administration hasn’t initiated a prosecution of the Times for violating a law against disclosing classified communications intelligence information. So Risen should be thanking the stars he’s not in prison right now.
Risen called Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation announcement “the best thing to happen in a long time,” the paper said.
In a follow-up interview, Risen was asked if he ever feels like “a pawn.” He said “that’s the hard part-to try to avoid getting used.”
But Risen was used in that NSA story by government officials, who could have been traitors or al-Qaeda agents, in order to damage one of the government’s most effective counter-terrorism programs.
When and if the terrorists hit America again, it will be hard for Risen to argue that he does not have blood on his hands.
Risen and his family live just outside Washington, D.C. His paper is based in New York City. Both locations are prime terrorist targets.
The blood may be your own-or that of your colleagues.