(NOTE - I posted something on this issue a few days ago. It's right here.Tom Faranda's Folly: Should the NY Times help Al Queda?)
The Wall St. Journal had an excellent editorial on June 30th about the NY Times decision to expose a totally legal U.S. intelligence operation aimed at thwarting terrorist financing. OpinionJournal - Featured Article
They also explain their own decision to publish the information and claim that ".. the facts are that the Times's decision was notably different from the Journal's."
Numerous government officials of both parties asked the Times not to publish, but they did anyway. The Times arrogance is breathtaking.
Some excerpts from the Journal editorial:
Mr. Fratto went on to ask the Times not to publish such a story on grounds that it would damage this useful terror-tracking method.
Sometime later, Secretary John Snow invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his Treasury office to deliver the same message. Later still, Mr. Fratto says, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the leaders of the 9/11 Commission, made the same request of Mr. Keller. Democratic Congressman John Murtha and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte also urged the newspaper not to publish the story.
The Times decided to publish anyway,...
The problem with the Times is that millions of Americans no longer believe that its editors would make those calculations in anything close to good faith. We certainly don't. On issue after issue, it has become clear that the Times believes the U.S. is not really at war, and in any case the Bush Administration lacks the legitimacy to wage it.
So, for example, it promulgates a double standard on "leaks," deploring them in the case of Valerie Plame and demanding a special counsel when the leaker was presumably someone in the White House and the journalist a conservative columnist. But then it hails as heroic and public-spirited the leak to the Times itself that revealed the National Security Agency's al Qaeda wiretaps.
Mr. Keller's open letter explaining his decision to expose the Treasury program all but admits that he did so because he doesn't agree with, or believe, the Bush Administration. "Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress," he writes, and "some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight." ...
In all of this, Mr. Sulzberger and the Times are reminiscent of a publisher from an earlier era, Colonel Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. In the 1930s and into World War II, the Tribune was implacable in its opposition to FDR and his conduct of the war. During the war itself, his newspaper also exposed secrets, including one story after the victory at Midway in 1942 that essentially disclosed that the U.S. had broken Japanese codes. The government considered, but decided against, prosecuting McCormick's paper under the Espionage Act of 1917.
That was a wise decision, and not only because it would have drawn more attention to the Tribune "scoop." Once a government starts indicting reporters for publishing stories, there will be no drawing any lines against such prosecutions, and we will be well down the road to an Official Secrets Act that will let government dictate coverage.
The publisher of the NY Times responded to the Journal editorial. Read it here. Sulzberger Responds to 'WSJ' Editorial Slamming the 'NYT'