George Bush, as reported by the AP and widely reprinted, said, "For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America ... [and] makes it harder to win this war on terror."
Peter King (Republican, NY), also speaking to the AP, said, "We're at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous."
"Some of the press, and particularly the New York Times, have made the job of defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult by insisting on publishing detailed information about vital national security programs," Cheney said the day the story was published.
"Loose lips kill American people," said the Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (Toronto Star)
"Running the story about the money-tracing program is a version of giving Anne Frank's address to the Nazis." (Richard Valeriani, Huffington Post)
Wow! That's heavy stuff!
How many American people, I would like to ask House Speaker Hastert, have these loose lips killed?
In the days following the NY Times story, I bet Al Qaeda assassins immediately began targeting international financial auditors. That's why we've heard all those reports of slaughter in the streets of Brussels, Zurich and Berne! And we can safely blame the NY Times for each and every one of those deaths!
Oh? The rate of death by violence of CPAs has not risen significantly in the past few days? How can that be?
If the story was like giving Anne Frank's address to the Nazis, somebody must have been shipped off to a concentration camp or dead! Mr. Valeriani, the author of that metaphor, was an NBC reporter for 28 years, back when the "news was news." Some young Jewish girl must have been taken. Or a Christian girl. Or a banker's daughter. Somebody.
Well, all right, nobody died.
But surely it made it harder to pursue the war on terror! Surely! Dick Cheney said so.
Frankly, I'm in favor of following the money and finding out who backed Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. It's been almost five years. How come it's not been done?
There's nothing shocking about the existence of the program. The only thing that's shocking is its failure to produce results.
But why should we imagine that the Bush administration is more competent in secret than it is in public?
This is the administration that went to war against Afghanistan to catch Osama bin Laden and his protector, Mullah Omar, but didn't get either.
A secondary purpose was to get rid of the Taliban and put in a Western friendly regime. The Taliban is making a comeback and opium production is back with a rush as well.
This is the administration that went to war against Iraq because they had WMD.
They claimed that they would rebuild Iraq, that the oil would flow and it would pay for Iraq's reconstruction and even the war itself. They spent forty billions dollars, or more, half ours and half theirs, and Iraq is in worse physical condition than under Saddam Hussein.
They claimed we would be greeted with open arms, democracy would ensue and we would leave.
This is the administration that came into office with a budget surplus.
This is the administration that sat and watched and did nothing as an entire American city was lost. The promised reconstruction, like the reconstruction of Iraq, has never taken place. It has been spectacular instead for its mismanagement and corruption.
This is the administration that designed a prescription drug program that is incomprehensible and benefits only the pharmaceutical companies.
This is the administration that has created the least effective and least efficient bureaucracy in American history, the Homeland Security Administration.
Let us count how many terrorists have been caught. How many terrorist operations have been interrupted. How many terrorist financial supporters have been caught.
The administration and its supporters will claim -- in the name of national security and secrecy -- that there are many more than we can be allowed to know about. I expect not. This is an administration that crows the slightest triumph, from "Mission Accomplished," to the "past-Zarqawi era," to the arrest of the pathetic seven al Qaeda wannabees who were more "aspirational than operational."
What is revealed here is the split, the real American political split, between the fantasy people and the reality people.
The fantasy people believe that if they have top secret, national security programs that are 'fighting the war on terror,' that a real-life version of 24 is taking place -- even if there are no results. The reality people are, frankly, flummoxed. They -- we -- are just catching up to the idea that the people who are running the country live in fantasyland. That the closest they get to reality is something akin to reality TV. They are not, as Ron Suskind suggested, faith-based. They live inside rhetoric and stories and only come out in the world for vote counting.
Yes, inside the fantasy of national security, the NY Times has surely put our country at risk and has even committed treason! In reality, eh! In reality all they have done is written about a program that should have produced a lot more results than it should have.
That should be the next story. That's the real story.