The Anchoress has an excellent roundup of posts about the recent publications by the NY Times of security leaks.
The Anchoress asks whether the Times “is trying to force a legal confrontation…are they actively trying to have members of the fourth estate brought up on charges of treason? To what purpose?”
I submit the following answer to the Anchoress’s question: The Times is trying to relive its glory days. Don’t forget that, as I described in this post, a lawsuit by the Nixon White House against the NY Times to stop the publication of Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers in 1971 was a seminal step in determining the freedom of the press to publish national security secrets. Although the security breaches involved in the publication of the Pentagon Papers were smaller than those involved today, the precedent is there. The Times was victorious, and the case set the stage for the publication of today’s security leaks.
In that earlier post, I quoted from a book on the Court’s decision in the Pentagon Papers case, written by David Rudenstine and entitled The Day the Presses Stopped. I’ll quote the book again:
Despite Americans’ constitutional right to a free press, certain government information–particularly that concerning military affairs–has been placed beyond the realm of public access. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1971, however (brought about when the Nixon administration sued the New York Times) knocked a howitzer-sized hole in that theory when the case allowed the New York Times and the Washington Post to print excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000- page document regarding U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Why wouldn’t the Times think that history will repeat itself? After all, it’s been clear for a while that Vietnam is the liberal template for the Iraq war. The left is counting on it.