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The New York Times' Damage to Our Nation's Security - Jed Babbin

The New York Times and its media camp followers are mischaracterizing the impact of its latest publication of secret information. They have totally shifted the debate to a straw man argument - that in order to keep secrets, they must be convinced that publication will lead to the loss of life - and that the administration's spokesmen, from the president on down, have taken to tearing up the straw man.

The New York Times - and its latest partner in perfidy, the LA Times - say they decide publication of secrets on the basis of whether their publication will directly result in the deaths of Americans. They point to the World War II standard, in which ships' sailing times, if published, could have resulted in German submarines sinking the ships. But al-Queda and Hizballah and the rest have no U-boat wolfpacks. Terrorists cannot kill unless we are unable to detect and interdict the means by which they do. And they rely, equally importantly, on the refusal of the nations of Old Europe and the Pacific to cooperate with us publicly.

We have had, in the past year, three instances of stories published by the Times and the Washington Post that have severely reduced our ability to interdict, capture and disrupt terrorists. These actions, by the most irresponsible press in the history of the nation, have greatly reduced our ability to fight the war against terrorists and to protect our homes from terrorist attacks. In two of the three - the WaPo story of the secret CIA prisons and the NYT articles on the SWIFT program tracing terrorist fund transfers through the Belgian conglomerate - the newspapers revealed both directly and indirectly the nations that were cooperating with us in secret. And "were" is the operative word.

As WaPo reporter Dana Priest admitted on Meet the Press Sunday, the CIA has had to relocate some of its secret prisons because it was revealed that nations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere were cooperating with us in secret. What we don't know is what else those nations were doing - including sharing intelligence with us on terrorist operations - that may also have been interrupted. Now, with the NYT report on the SWIFT program, we know that the exposure may result in the program's termination. According to a UPI report, "The Belgian government says it will look into U.S. data mining of private financial records held by SWIFT -- a Brussels-based global banking entity." We need to ask what are the legal frontiers in this case and whether it is right that a U.S. civil servant could look at private transactions without the approval of a Belgian judge," government spokesman Didier Seus said..." Belgium, which has been publicly opposed to the Iraq invasion, won't allow itself to be discovered cooperating with us in tracing terror financing. Its politics of appeasement require that the SWIFT program be terminated.

Since 9-11, none but a few of our former allies have given us more than lip service to help fight terrorism. And among them, fewer still have been willing to do so openly. When those who cooperate in secret are exposed, the damage is enormous, whether someone dies the next day or not. The NYT and WaPo bloody well knew, before the stories ran, that their publication of the CIA prisons and the SWIFT program would make it impossible for some nations to continue cooperating with us. By using their power to interrupt nations' cooperation with us, the New York Times and the Washington Post have done more damage to our nation's security than Usama bin Laden has been able to since 9-11. They have become a weapon in the terrorist arsenal. Their claims to still be guardians of our freedom are laughable, and tragically so.