Power Line posted an article yesterday about the New York Times handling of the kidnapping of David Rohde, one of their reporters. Mr. Rohde was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan seven months ago. The Times kept the story secret and asked other news outlets who were aware of the story to keep it secret also. This was done to protect the safety of Mr. Rohde. It worked–he is safely home now–and the media outlets who held the story helped insure his safe return. Great.
In December 2005, after being asked by the White House not to run the story, the New York Times ran a story exposing the NSA terrorist eavesdropping program. This alerted the terrorists to one of our terrorist surveilance programs, making it more difficult to track terrorists, and thus making Americans less safe. In June 2006, after being asked by the White House not to run the story, the New York Times ran a story exposing the terrorist-finance tracking program that was being used by the Treasury Department, again hampering our efforts to track and detain terrorists.
I agree with the secrecy in the case of of Mr. Rohde–he is now safe and sound. What I don’t understand is the double standard. The Times asked for news outlets to help insure the safety of their reporter. When the Times was asked to refrain from printing a story to help protect the American people, it refused. They seem to be able to understand the reasons for secrecy when it is up close and personal, but not when it applies to the country as a whole.