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Should the NY Times Be Prosecuted?

Yesterday on FOX News Sunday Rep. Peter King called on the U.S. Government to prosecute the New York Times for its recent article revealing the SWIFT program:

To me, the real question here is the conduct of the New York Times. By disclosing this in time of war, they have compromised America's antiterrorist policies. This is a very effective policy. They have compromised it. This is the second time the New York Times has done this.

And to me, nobody elected the New York Times to do anything. And the New York Times is putting its own arrogant, elitist, left-wing agenda before the interests of the American people. And I'm calling on the attorney general to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of the New York Times, its reporters, the editors that worked on this, and the publisher. We're in time of war, Chris, and what they've done here is absolutely disgraceful. I believe they violated the Espionage Act, the Comint (ph) Act.

This is absolutely disgraceful. The time has come for the American people to realize and the New York Times to realize we're at war and they can't be just on their own deciding what to declassify, what to release.

If Congress wants to work on this privately, that's one thing. But for them to, on their own -- for them to decide -- for the editor of the New York Times to say that he decides it's in the national interest -- no one elected them to anything.

Michael Barone discusses the subject of prosecuting the New York Times in his column today, and while he does say that " it certainly is in order to prosecute government officials who have abused their trust by disclosing secrets," he doesn't come out and squarely advocate prosecuting the paper.

Nevertheless, Barone concludes by expressing the sort of frustration and incredulity that many Americans, myself included, feel when trying to compute why the Times felt compelled to expose the SWIFT program. Barone writes:

Why do they hate us? Why does the Times print stories that put America more at risk of attack? They say that these surveillance programs are subject to abuse, but give no reason to believe that this concern is anything but theoretical. We have a press that is at war with an administration, while our country is at war against merciless enemies. The Times is acting like an adolescent kicking the shins of its parents, hoping to make them hurt while confident of remaining safe under their roof. But how safe will we remain when our protection depends on the Times?

I think that last question is rhetorical. There used to be a time in America when the publishing of classified information, especially in a time of war when such disclosures could materially benefit our enemies, was something that was taken very, very seriously. Not any more.

The New York Times, motivated by its own political ideology and dislike of the current occupant of the White House, has elevated itself on the back of the First Amendment to the role of unelected arbiter of U.S. national security interests.

How ironic is it that the Times, which has spent years (along with the rest of the liberal establishment) railing against the Bush administration for perceived abuses of executive power, continues to abuse the First Amendment for partisan political purposes? I'm sorry but, Bill Keller's effort this morning notwithstanding, there is simply no other explanation that can justify why the Times would expose, over the pleas of the United States government, a completely legal program designed to hunt down terrorists and protect American citizens.