Can the NY Times be Trusted to Decide Our National Security?

Since the New York Times is now the organization that decides what national security information deserves to be kept secret, Bob Cox wonders if they can be trusted with such a huge responsibility.

It comes down to a matter of trust, something in short supply for most Americans when it comes to The New York Times. Since Sept. 11, The Times has published fabricated quotations (Maureen Dowd), fabricated datelines (Rick Bragg) and stories manufactured out of whole cloth (Jayson Blair). The Times, by many estimates, made the administration’s case for war by publishing now-discredited claims about Iraq’s WMD program (Judith Miller). Dan Rather may have made “fake but accurate” famous, but it was The New York Times that honed the practice to an art form. Maybe they could sell T-shirts?

It may not be wise to always take a president at his word, but The New York Times has not exactly cornered the market on journalistic integrity. Yet Keller exposes a vital counter-terrorist program in a story based almost entirely on anonymous sources and asks that we take him at his word. Sorry Bill, that ship sailed long ago.

We will never know the full extent of the damage caused by The New York Times in disclosing the SWIFT monitoring program but have no doubt it was not a benign act. Whatever agony Keller may have gone through in deciding to publish the story will pale in comparison to the agony of the victims of the next terror attack, an attack that might have been prevented save for Keller’s choice.

Playwright David Mamet once wrote of elites “you’re all the same … It’s always ‘What I’m going to do for you.’ Then you screw up and then its ‘we did the best we could. I’m dreadfully sorry’ and people like us live with your mistakes the rest of our lives.”

We may be living with Keller’s mistake for a long time to come.