Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oxymorons and the Press Corps.

Professor Bainbridge is reporting that Barry Gellman, a reporter for the Washington Post, broke a big story on how military intelligence is operating in Iraq. Asks the good Professor:
Did the Pentagon intend to disclose this program or did it only to do so in response to Gellman's investigation? If the latter, why isn't his conduct basically treasonous? Did he put personal self-interest as a journalist ahead of the national security? If operatives are killed or missions blown as a result of this story, will Gellman feel any remorse? If the countries named in his story as targets of the missions pull out of the war on terror, will Gellman accept any responsibility for the resulting harm to our national security? I think he and his fellow members of the MSM owe us answers to these questions.
I think he does too. But there is a reason he isn't being indicted for treason.

The writer was a journalist. Under the constitution, the government cannot stifle the freedom of the press. Gun control laws violating the 2nd Amendment? So what. Judicial fiats stifling religious expression? Who cares. Making the press accountable for their actions? We can't have that!

Fortunately and/or sometimes unfortunately, the freedom of the press clause is deeply ingrained in American law. Which means if the Pentagon cared, about the limit of what they could do is ask Gellman not to publish and punish his sources of information within the military. This is what happened when the Congressional Bunker at the Greenbriar was exposed.

That's assuming that his story is actually that serious. There are levels of security classification. Officially, the lowest is Confidential. But lower than that is Sensitive. Sensitive is stuff that isn't classified officially, but if you gather too much of it in one place you could draw classified conclusions from it. Chances are this guys article is Sensitive and therefore unactionable even if you or I wrote it instead of a godlike media watchdog.

Ok maybe not me, I work for the military and know better. But you.

(HT: Vodkapundit)

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