When is The New York Times going to get around to uncovering an al-Qaida secret program?
In the latest of a long list of formerly top-secret government anti-terrorism operations that have been revealed by the Times, last week the paper printed the details of a government program tracking terrorists' financial transactions that has already led to the capture of major terrorists and their handmaidens in the U.S.
In response, the Bush administration is sounding very cross -- and doing nothing. Bush wouldn't want to get the press mad at him! Yeah, let's keep the media on our good side like they are now. Otherwise, they might do something crazy -- like leak a classified government program monitoring terrorist financing.
National Review has boldly called for the revocation of the Times' White House press pass! If the Times starts publishing troop movements, National Review will go whole hog and demand that the paper's water cooler privileges be revoked. Then there's always the "nuclear option": disinviting Maureen Dowd from the next White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Meanwhile, the one congressman who has called for any sort of criminal investigation is being treated like a nut. Don't get me wrong: Congressman Peter King is nuttier than squirrel droppings -- but he's right on this.
Unless, that is, the country has simply abolished the concept of treason. We've got a lot of liberals who hate the country and are itching to aid the enemy, so what are you going to do? Indict the entire editorial board of The New York Times? (Actually, that wouldn't be a bad place to start, now that I ask.)
Maybe treason ended during the Vietnam War when Jane Fonda sat laughing and clapping on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down American pilots. She came home and resumed her work as a big movie star without the slightest fear of facing any sort of legal sanction.
Fast forward to today, when New York Times publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger has just been named al-Qaida's "Employee of the Month" for the 12th straight month.
Before the Vietnam War, this country took treason seriously.
But now we're told newspapers have a right to commit treason because of "freedom of the press." Liberals invoke "freedom of the press" like some talismanic formulation that requires us all to fall prostrate in religious ecstasy. On liberals' theory of the First Amendment, the safest place for Osama bin Laden isn't in Afghanistan or Pakistan; it's in The New York Times building.
Freedom of the press means the government generally cannot place a prior restraint on speech before publication.