Time Mag Editor on Publishing WikiLeaks: 'Our Job is Not to Protect the U.S.'

December 5th, 2010 1:52 PM

Time magazine's managing editor said Sunday with respect to the decision to publish intelligence information recently exposed by WikiLeaks, "Our job is not to protect the U.S."

Chatting with Howard Kurtz on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Richard Stengel claimed that irrespective of the harm these released documents did to America's national security, "Our job is to publish and be damned" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

HOWARD KURTZ: Rick Stengel, we'll get to your interview with Assange in just a moment, but I want to ask you about some of the criticism. Here's Max Boot, foreign policy expert, writing in "Commentary" magazine, accusing the news organizations involved in this of collaborating with an accused rapist, says, "The conduct of all concerned is reprehensible and beneath contempt." "This is journalism," he says, "as pure vandalism."

What's your thoughts on that?

RICHARD STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME": You know, our job is to publish and be damned, Howard, and that's what we have done. Those accusations against Assange in some cases are unfair. I mean, the criminal here, if there is a criminal, is Bradley Manning, who is the PFC in the Army who leaked those documents to Assange in the first place.

Our job is to shed light on this. Our job is to give greater transparency and put it in context, as Mark was saying.

KURTZ: But Rick, you say right here in your editor's note in "TIME" magazine that these documents released by WikiLeaks "harm national security," and that Assange meant to do so.

STENGEL: Right. I know. But there's no way around that.

I mean, I believe that's Assange's intention. I believe on balance that they have been detrimental to the U.S. But our job is not to protect the U.S. in that sense. I mean, the First Amendment protects us in terms of releasing this information which does enlighten people about the way the U.S. conducts foreign policy.  

So, the only guilty party here is Manning, and news organizations shouldn't care that information they reveal could harm America's national security as well as threaten American lives?

Gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling about the way these folks think about their jobs, doesn't it?