Thursday, April 20, 2006

Andrew McCarthy on the Pulitzers

These awards unmistakably announce that organized journalism, a.k.a. the mainstream media, is embarked on its own version of the al-Arian defense for Dana Priest, James Risen, and Eric Lichtblau. These are the reporters who, along with their powerful newspapers (respectively, the Washington Post and the New York Times), took it upon themselves to decide what national-security secrets were not important enough to keep confidential in wartime — notwithstanding that those secrets (viz., how our intelligence community houses high-level al Qaeda detainees and how it searches for potential terrorists operating within the U.S.) are designed to keep Americans from getting killed by the enemy.

Sami Al-Arian, who finally pled guilty to supporting terrorism and will be deported, proved very hard to convict (indeed, for years he was essentially impossible to indict) in large measure because he ingratiated himself with powerful government officials throughout the 1990s. Down the road, predictably, his defense — regardless of what the evidence showed about his ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a barbaric terror organization — was: How bad a guy can he really be if he has access to high-level political actors who certainly don't seem to be treating him like a terrorist?

With these Pulitzers, organized journalism is inoculating its operatives the same way: How can this reporting, which reveals national-defense secrets critical to wartime intelligence gathering, be deemed treasonous or otherwise against the public interest? After all, pillars of journalism like the elite writers, editors, and academics on the Pulitzer committee have recognized it with these coveted awards? This ups the ante to a degree commensurate with the prestige of the award.

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