Before you pigeonhole me as a limousine liberal, I am personally inclined to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on these programs, even though they are inevitably prone to abuse by an overzealous, secrecy-mad administration. Such is the nature of the threats the nation faces. And I am willing to grant the Times' critics that the SWIFT revelations were merely that. There was no implication of illegality or wrongdoing. Gratuitous? To some. The truth, to me.
What I am not willing to cede is my right to know that these programs exist, nor my elected representatives' right to scrutinize them. In the United States we elect a president, not a king (not that you'd know that these days).
How would I tell?
Here's the gist of his defense of the Times' decision:
What renders the administration's outrage at the Times so hollow is that it has acknowledged since 9/11 that it is using every technique at its disposal to monitor terrorists' communications and impede their fundraising. If Al-Qaida were capable of pulling off 9/11, did it take the NYT to clue it in to the fact that its phone conversations, e-mail communications and financial transactions were subject to electronic scrutiny?No, but it took the NYT to tell them how the US was doing it. The point, Mr. Platt, is the US government not trying to hide the fact it tries to monitor terrorist communications and financing isn't the same thing as telling the bad guys how it is doing so. If the terrorists were so smart about this stuff, why were the authorities able to use it to nab the dirtbag behind the Bali bombing with it? The fact is the Times unilaterally chose, despite the request of the Treasury Secretary, to deprive our government of a useful anti-terrorist tool by telling the world (and Al Qaeda) about it. That, not hostility to civil liberties, is why a lot of people are ticked off at the Times. Nobody is attempting to take away freedom of the press here, but freedom of the press does not confer freedom from criticism, and the Times' bone-headed stunt has got them some.