Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Old Gray Blabbermouth

The New York Times continues its series of articles exposing top-secret U.S. operations in the War on Terror. Today’s installment, as Abe mentioned, describes U.S. Special Operations incursions into Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, and other countries under the terms of an executive order signedby President Bush.

Portions of these revelations have already been leaked in the past, making this piece less harmful than previous Times classics such as this 2005 article in which the Paper of Record exposed secret wiretapping of terrorists. Or this article from the Washington Post which exposed the CIA’s overseas prisons in which top terrorists were held. But it’s bad enough.

I can’t help thinking that such operational details never would have been revealed in a war–say World War II–that the editors of these newspapers believed was worth fighting. The really interesting issue will be what happens henceforward. I have a feeling that perhaps the MSM won’t be so eager to blow the whistle on operations ordered by a president they love rather than one they loathe. At the very least, they will give President Obama a longer presumption of goodwill than they gave to President Bush, who enjoyed it for only a few months after 9/11. If we are thus better able to make covert ops truly covert, that may well be an unexpected benefit of Obama’s ascendancy.