WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the movie, "Jerry Maguire," Tom Cruise, playing a sports agent in the title role, euphorically shouts, "Show me the money!" Until this week, when the editors of the New York Times decided to reveal highly classified details about the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, that's exactly what the U.S. government has been doing to Al Qaeda. In an effort to prevent another Sept. 11, the CIA and Department of the Treasury -- with the help of several U.S. and European financial institutions -- have been secretly mapping terrorist networks through the use of financial data. It's not a secret anymore.
The paper that boasts about delivering "all the news that's fit to print" defends its right to divulge state secrets by arrogantly claiming that "the public has the right to know." In the wake of publishing accounts on how the National Security Agency monitors overseas communications with suspected terrorists and the means by which the CIA has been tracking terrorist finances, the NYT, other media outlets and "civil libertarians" describe those in government who leaked this classified information as "whistleblowers," "patriots" and "watchdogs against government abuse of our right to privacy." They're not. They are traitors.
In 1985 John Walker, a U.S. Navy Petty Officer, was convicted of compromising U.S. military codesecrets to the Soviets in exchange for cash -- and placing an untold number of Americans in our Armed Forces in extraordinary jeopardy. In 1994, CIA officer Aldrich Ames was jailed for selling the names of people spying for the United States to his Soviet handlers. His perfidy enabled the KGB to eliminate more than 130 agents working for our CIA and at least 10 were executed. In 2002, FBI agent Robert Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison for selling classified information about U.S. counter-intelligence operations to the KGB and its successor, the FSB, and irreparably damaging U.S. national security. These men were not "whistleblowers." All were avaricious, treasonous men, filled with hubris. Their actions directly harmed the country they were sworn to protect.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.