A Journalists Defends The Government Against Accusations of Overreach

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    Sooner28posted 4 years ago

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/nat … story.html

    This bothers me.  Mr. Pincus clams:

    "The person or persons who told the Associated Press about the CIA operation that infiltrated al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Kim - or someone else - who informed Rosen about North Korea, were not whistleblowers exposing government misdeeds. They harmed national security and broke the law."

    The most chilling aspect of this paragraph is "harmed national security and broke the law."  There are two problems with this passage alone.  The first is: what is this amorphous amorphous "national security"?  There has been an increasing trend by the government to invoke "national security" to avoid providing evidence in criminal trials and lawsuits (Oh we have evidence against terrorist A, but the evidence is classified, so you can't see it, thereby obliterating the constitution), without every actual defining what "national security" means.  Defining this term too broadly allows the government to hide anything.  "Executive privilege" is in the same vein.

    The second problem deals with the underlying assumptions of the paragraph.  In order to conclude the government can have "national security secrets," one has to assume that the government is trustworthy when it claims there is evidence.  Imagine you were accused of a crime, but the information the government had on you was "classified," so a jury trial wasn't possible.  Would you be willing to accept that?

    Furthermore, a more insidious assumption underlies Mr. Pincus' argument: the government is separate from the people it represents.  It stands above and beyond the population, and thus can prevent the public from knowing certain information on "national security" grounds, in essence, a very paternalistic point of view, one not fitting of free and independent human beings. 

    It is true that if certain information was widespread, it could compromise clandestine operations abroad; however, that is the cost of living in a free society.  The danger of shutting down debate, rather than relying on journalistic judgment on what to publish and not publish (since journalists do not publish everything they know), sets a dangerous precedent and seriously imperils the likelihood that our society can continue to remain "free."

  2. tirelesstraveler profile image82
    tirelesstravelerposted 4 years ago

    Truly a matter of concern.  The law only applies if pertinent to the topic group in power favors the application.  It must be my imagination that the law used to apply to everyone in the same way.

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      Sooner28posted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I just noticed I added an s on journalist.  Oops.

      Anyway, apparently there are journalists defending the prosecution of leaks.  They have forgotten that their role with any administration is adversarial, not cooperative.