TWO weeks and counting, and the editor of The New York Times still has not been sentenced to the gas chamber. What a bummer for one California radio talk-show host, Melanie Morgan, who pronounced The Times guilty of treason and expressly endorsed that punishment. She and the rest of the get-the-press lynch mob are growing restless, wondering why newspapers haven't been prosecuted under the Espionage Act. "If Bush believes what he is saying," taunted Pat Buchanan, "why does he not do his duty as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States?"
Here's why. [List follows...]
The administration has a more insidious game plan instead: it has manufactured and milked this controversy to reboot its intimidation of the press, hoping journalists will pull punches in an election year. There are momentous stories far more worrisome to the White House than the less-than-shocking Swift program, whether in the chaos of Anbar Province or the ruins of New Orleans. If the press muzzles itself, its under-the-radar self-censorship will be far more valuable than a Nixonesque frontal assault that ends up as a 24/7 hurricane veering toward the Supreme Court.
The trouble is we have plenty to worry about. For all the airy talk about the First Amendment, civil liberties and Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Swift story and the National Security Agency surveillance story before it, there's an urgent practical matter at stake, too. Now more than ever, after years of false reports of missions accomplished, the voters need to do what Congress has failed to do and hold those who mismanage America's ever-expanding war accountable for their performance in real time.
Much, much more. Go read. That's our Pop!