It became a laugh line long ago: "If we can't [insert your favorite dubious activity here], the terrorists will have won."
But that didn't prevent Keith Olbermann from trotting out the cliché tonight. A line so tired it would have to be months fresher not to be merely hackneyed. And all this in defense of the New York Times' latest leak of an anti-terrorist program - this time that of the the program designed to track terrorists' financial transactions.
Even Olbermann seemed abashed at stooping so low, but that didn't stop him. Claiming that the anti-terror program is "legally questionable," Olbermann actually said that "as the old saying goes" if the Times can't report this "haven't the terrorists won?"
Legally questionable? Really? Even the Times' Bill Keller had to acknowledge in his letter of June 25th that there are "strong arguments" that the program is legal and further that the Times has "not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far."
I'd say there's much more evidence not that the program is illegal, but that the New York Times, with a little help from Keith Olbermann, is willing to play fast and loose with the lives of millions of Americans potentially threatened by the divulging of these anti-terror programs.
Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY. He grudgingly admits to sharing Cornell as his alma mater with Olbermann. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org