The NYT is, at least of the prospect that the crimes committed in leaking to their reporters — and those of the WaPo — will be investigated and the leakers punished. In one of their editorials today, the Times tries to pull the same stunt that Chuckie Schumer tried yesterday.
First, they say that it’s different when someone rats out the White House than when someone in the White House, for political reasons, strikes at someone illegally. Which, of course, is not at all what happened in the revelation of Valerie Plame’s employment. But the Times wants us to believe that pure-hearted whistleblowers should be protected even from investigation so long as they are leaking information that is damaging to the president. Balderdash.
Whistleblowers are protected when they stay within the law. There are several avenues for making complaints about secret activities, and none of them require leaking top-secret information to the press. The people in the CIA and — probably — NSA who have been leaking information about the CIA detention facilities and the NSA intelligence gathering on telephone and e-mail traffic have committed crimes. The best way to investigate and punish these crimes is to put the reporters who published the leaks under oath and before a grand jury. If they refuse to testify, they should be jailed as was Judith Miller in the much less serious Plame investigation.
There should be, as I have written and argued repeatedly, a limited privilege for reporters to protect sources. But not in the case of criminal acts such as these leaks. If the Times is sweating, it should be. Its irresponsible conduct in printing these stories — and the parallel conduct of the Post – are damaging to freedom of the press, as well as to our nation’s security.