Sunday, June 11, 2006

revealing classified information

Robert Kaiser, an editor of the Washington Post today asks the question, should the Post publish classified information? I think the answer is an overwhelmingly clear "it depends." It depends on whether publishing said information will endanger lives. It depends on whether the information will reveal illegal activities by the Government. It depends whether the information is classified legitimately, or if it is classified only because revealing it would embarrass the government, which is NOT a legal reason to classify something.

Unsurprisingly, Kaiser makes the case for publication. He points out correctly that "Secrecy and security are not the same." He lists many examples of lies and illegal acts just by the current de facto administration that we would never have known about if reporters hadn't obtained and written about classified information. The fact that our intelligence agencies really didn't know whether Iraq had WMD (they DIDN'T). Torture and abuse by US personnel at Abu Ghraib. Secret prisons. NSA eavesdropping on thousands of Americans, and monitoring who we make phone calls to.

None of this endangered anybody, except politically. Terrorists already knew we were monitoring THEIR phone calls. Yes, the media should continue to report on classified information. No, that stupid 1917 law shouldn't be interpreted in a way that the RECIPIENT of classified information is subject to prosecution.