Saturday, July 08, 2006

Jack Shafer Off the Rails

When governments acquire emergency powers during wartime, it's with the understanding that the crisis is finite and that when the war ends the government will relinquish those powers. But what happens when a government defines its war as neverending, as the Bush administration has its so-called "war on terror"? As long as any jihadist anywhere threatens the West, the administration would have us believe, we must trust it and remain in a wartime crouch.
Let's get something clear right off the bat. Jack Shafer's knowledge of history must be faulty to the extreme.

Short wars are the exception, not the norm. The Hundred Years War. The Thirty Years War. The Crusades. Even the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam were all conflicts that were envisioned to be short conflicts but turned into long protracted conflicts. History is replete with examples of what planners believed to be short conflicts and instead turned into long ones. And President Bush never promised a short conflict either. He has always maintained that it would be a long conflict, fought with many different techniques - the military and financial among them - and that we might never know precisely the moment when we've won the conflict.

Now that the US is finally responding to thirty years of Islamic terrorism, Jack thinks that we need to err on the side of Bill Keller and his paper's publication of sensitive classified information gathering programs?

I don't think so.

Besides, Keller and his cohorts in the media have never quite answered the defining question about the SWIFT program: namely that if this program was so public, how come they not only gave Eric Lichtblau's story front page treatment, but allowed the Eric Lichtblau to claim that it was secret in the first place. Was Eric Lichtblau, a reporter in the national security loop so out of the loop that he didn't know of its existence, and yet the program was known to terrorists? You can't have your cake and eat it too. Yet, that's precisely what is going on with the media. They want their cake, and to eat it as well.

Sorry, but I don't trust Keller et al. to have my best interests at heart. And Keller et al. weren't elected to make such determinations. President Bush was, and continues to do what he thinks is in our best interests regardless of what Shafer and the rest of the media thinks.

That's what makes the publication of those secret programs all the more damaging. The media thinks that they have the right to publish information regardless of the consequences. That goes for the SWIFT program as well as the NY terror plot revealed yesterday.

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