The Bush administration should institute a similar campaign that instructs citizens of both the real dangers of proliferating classified information and that the meaning of the First Amendment is not a license to publish anything. If done correctly, this would have the effect of isolating, and bringing public condemnation upon, mainstream media, such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, that insist on publishing classified information that may result in placing American citizens and military personnel in the crosshairs of terrorists.
In order to pull this off, it would require a multi-media campaign that would not only include posters and radio (as in the 1940s), but also television, the Internet, and podcasts. They would have to be done well, with attractive and winsome citizens and narrators conveying a strong and serious message that does not come across as syrupy, heavy-handed, or inconsistent with the protection of civil liberties. Consider this commercial:
Scene: A young, handsome, man appears on the screen. He is standing in his military uniform in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Man: Hello, my name is Timothy Jones. I am a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps. I am proud to serve my country in the war on terrorism.
That war not only requires combat troops, but hundreds of other dedicated men and women, including those who are involved with secret operations to infiltrate and monitor terrorist organizations and stop the flow of money between terrorists and their supporters. When terrorists are disrupted because of this important work, lives are saved, and we make another September 11 less likely.
In World War II, the U.S. government published posters that warned its citizens, “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” It is no different today. But when well-intentioned people, including newspaper reporters, publish the details of our secret operations, they put in danger all of us, and they make another September 11 more difficult to stop.
So, please be careful if you think you know something about any aspect of our war on terrorism that would help those who want to hurt America. Our lives depend on it.
Narrator: Loose lips sink ships.
Here’s another commercial:
Scene: Camera pans the U.S. Capitol, then shows a painting of the American Founders working on the U.S. Constitution. It goes on to show photographs of a number of important figures in American history, including George Washington, FDR, Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, etc. It also shows men and women in combat and military personnel in other settings, including the famous flag planting on the island of Iwo Jima. Pictures of policemen and firemen on September 11 are strategically placed in particular spots. During this 60-second televised collage, a narrator speaks.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?