I’m distraught. The American people have been misinformed, a prize has been unjustly awarded, and -- inexplicably -- neither the national mainstream media nor the blogosphere is correcting the error.
What has my undies in a bunch is the Pulitzer Prize awarded yesterday to New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for their December, 2005 article “revealing” the existence of the National Security Agency’s “secret” warrantless communications surveillance program. Making matters worse, everyone -- conservatives and liberals alike -- seems to believe the lie that these reporters broke the story.
The Pulitzer Prize people, of course, should know better (and probably do), but being journalists themselves, they’re just liberals, and can’t be trusted. And Glenn Greenwald, that crazy liberal lawyer who thinks the Constitution isn't automatically suspended when some foreigners don’t like America -- well, he’s obviously fallen off the left side of the playing field, probably lives in Rio de Janeiro or some foreign place like that, and is just trying to shill his blatantly antipatriotic book.
What really baffles me is that even the righties, who usually are so diligent at exposing the naked truth of journalism’s yellow liberal underbelly and who (according to their occasional comments on my blog) are careful to stay on top of truthful documentaries like “24" and “Alias”, are making the same mistake, blaming everyone from Risen and Lichtblau to Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller for blowing the lid off the supposedly “secret” program. The National Review has said the Times reporters should be jailed for publicizing the story, and Powerline said the journalists deserved “A Pulitzer for Treason.” Even noted gambler and moralist Bill Bennett, whose Virtue usually protects him from error, fell prey to the propaganda:
Are they punished, are they in shame, are they embarrassed, are they arrested? No, they win pulitzer prizes - they win pulitzer prizes - I don't think what they did was worthy of an award - I think what they did was worthy of jail, and I think this investigation needs to go forward. . . . . [T]hese people who reveal our secrets, who hurt our war efforts . . . who hurt the efforts of the President's people . . . they shouldn't be given prizes and awards for this, they shouldn't be given prizes and awards for this, they should be looked into . . . the Espionage Act, investigation of these leaks, I'm telling you, I'm hot. . . .
Well, sure, Bill Bennett IS hot, but not over this. Come on, people!! We all know it wasn’t the New York Times that popped the top off this puppy.
It was J.J. Abrams, creator of the television series “Alias.”
Yes: the action-adventure-spy TV series "Alias" nearly destroyed America’s entire counterterrorism effort nearly THREE YEARS before Risen and Lichtblau's story, in an episode titled "A Higher Echelon" that aired on January 5, 2003 (Season 2, episode 11):
Sydney Bristow (a secret agent played by the stunniferous Jennifer Garner): “Some people think there’s a conspiracy, that the government eavesdrops on everyone. It’s no conspiracy. Right now, satellites and ground station antennas are listening in. Faxes, internet communications, phone calls, all routed to high speed voice and optical recognition computers. They can analyze words spoken and written in every common language on earth. This system is called Echelon.”
Will Tippin (a naive, low-level CIA analyst played by Bradley Cooper): “Yeah, I heard about Echelon. I just don’t understand how it’s legal. So, what, it’s just like a computer that listens to and reads everything?”
Sydney: “Yeah, looking for key words. The system scans two million conversations an hour.”
Will: “Yeah, while shamelessly violating the Constitution.”
Sydney: “The National Security Agency argues it’s one of its most important weapons against terrorists. And, they don’t abuse the system.”
Will: “Somehow, that's unreassuring.”
So now we know the source of the leak. Before January 5, 2003, the terrorists had no idea the NSA was monitoring their conversations. Afterward, they did. And as President Bush and Attorney General Gonzalez have made clear, even reminding the terrorists that the government knows how to spy on them harms our nation's security.
Damn you for a traitor, J.J. Damn you.
Now let’s stop lauding those posers Risen and Lichtblau, and leave poor Jay Rockefeller alone.
Epilogue: Usually I'm content to let satire be satire, but this is such an important issue that I want to expressly connect the dots. The post above is humorous, but it's also deadly serious. There really was such an Alias episode in 2003. And there really are people claiming that the New York Times, and any government insiders who leaked the existence of the NSA's patently illegal program, are traitors because terrorists did not realize, until December 2005, that our government was trying to eavesdrop on their communications.
Such people are, to put it bluntly, idiots. EVERYONE knew the government was, and is, data-mining and eavesdropping on terrorists. Even TV producers and viewers knew it, long before the New York Times story ran.
The only real news disclosed by the New York Times was the MANNER in which such surveillance is occurring -- that the government, despite the existence of a special, secret court that approves literally 99.98% of warrant requests and operates under ridiculously liberal rules that even allow warrants to be issued retroactively, nevertheless insists on spying on Americans without warrants, without probable cause, domestically as well as internationally, and without meaningful Congressional oversight, even rejecting a Congressional offer to amend the law to allow such spying.
For whistleblowers and journalists to disclose government misconduct of that nature and scope -- to disclose that the basic safeguards of the Constitution are being not just set aside in the heat of battle, but purposefully and systematically disregarded and even dismantled -- is patriotism of the highest order. Those who argue otherwise are as unAmerican, and as silly, as those who would criticize "Alias" for disclosing national secrets.
Update: More evidence of the Hollywood-wiretap conspiracy!!
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