Weisberg

On the Times, the SWIFT story, and the whole conservatoid blogger howl that followed:

In fairness to the Times, administration officials who tried to talk editors there out of publishing seem to have emphasized a much weaker argument for withholding the SWIFT story葉hat disclosure would put pressure on European governments to oppose the program. It’s hardly a valid national security argument to say that the public in other democratic countries might reflexively oppose something if they knew we were doing it. That’s a diplomatic problem of Bush’s own making, and he can’t reasonably enlist the press in trying to solve it. In any case, that concern hasn’t been borne out. Few in Europe seem alarmed by, or even much interested in, the SWIFT disclosures. The stronger point is simply that we shouldn’t tip our hand to people trying to kill us.

To publish or not to publish a story like this is seldom an easy decision. But given its relative unimportance to most Americans and Europeans, the absence of apparent wrongdoing on the part of the government, and the potential for it to be helpful to terrorists, the Times might have been wise to put this one on the spike.

And you know, I hate disagreeing with Weisberg, because it makes me feel dumb, but here’s something he didn’t address, which is in my mind a pretty good argument for publishing the story:

This administration has a pattern of dishonesty, ignoring existing laws, ignoring established precedents, and ignoring the goddamn truth whenever it sees fit simply by whipping out its national security dick and slapping it on the table. If you view each story Weisberg brings up as an example in isolation, then sure, his conclusion that caution in the face of danger and attentiveness to those in a position to know best makes perfect sense.

But take them all together, one example after another in which officials of our government spied and lied and broke the law, and you come up with a pretty compelling case for pretty much never giving them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to “national security” ever again.

Can’t get fooled again, after all.

A.