Unintentionally. I hope.
(Via Hot Air) All in the name of the scoop, of course. The title is bad enough (“U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors“), but the fools who wrote the article* gave names and procedures. They also explicitly used still-classified material to break this story:
The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.
Which is illegal. It was illegal when it happened to Bush, it’s illegal now, and it will be illegal in the next Republican administration. It’d also be a stupid idea even if it was legal. Why? Well, let me tell you a story from World War I. Supposedly, once the war started British troops in at least one section of the front had made a happy discovery: the Germans artillery apparently thought that the enemy was a bit farther back than they actually were, and were thus essentially overshooting the actual front lines. Great news… at least, that’s what the British media thought, so they wrote stories about the lucky break in the papers. And then the Germans read the newspapers – because that’s one thing that foreign agents do; they pass along relevant information from the newspapers – and proceeded to adjust their firing solutions so that they were actually hitting their targets.
I presume that most of my readers get the point, but we might have some visitors from the New York Times or other newspapers, so let me spell this out: printing this story did not help any of the good guys. It did help the career advancement of half a dozen or so intelligence operatives for some very nasty regimes, as they can now easily pass along to their spymasters formerly-classified or simply obscure details about American covert aid to dissidents. Those regimes now know who to look for, and where to look; and with that, they can trace paths until they get to somebody that they can actually target. Which they will, because that is what bad guys do. Which is why this information was either classified or obscured in the first place. Put even more simply, this information was on a need-to-know basis, and we did not need to know that. Heck, the only reason I’m even mentioning it now is because the fools put the story on the front page; the damage, as they say, has been done.
In some ways it’d be almost a relief to think of the New York Times as a seditionist organization, but the reality’s even more depressing: it’s simply an institutional sociopath. If you don’t subscribe, they don’t give a tinker’s dam what happens to you.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Richard A. Oppel Jr, Andrew W. Lehren, Alissa J. Rubin, and Sangar Rahimi. Just to help the government when it investigates this leak.