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Times' Frank Rich: Any 'witch hunt' for traitors should begin in the White House

RAW STORY
Published: Saturday May 13, 2006

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Defending journalists who have been castigated as traitors for exposing government blunders, New York Times columnist Frank Rich writes that any "witch hunt" for traitors should begin in the White House, RAW STORY has found.

"What really angers the White House and its defenders about both the Post and Times scoops are not the legal questions the stories raise about unregulated gulags and unconstitutional domestic snooping, but the unmasking of yet more administration failures in a war effort riddled with ineptitude," Rich writes.

"It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press' exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security," Rich continues. "That's where the buck stops, and if there's to be a witch hunt for traitors, that's where it should begin."

Ex-CIA Director Porter Goss should not be allowed to "escape into retirement unexamined," Rich argues, calling him "so inept that an overzealous witch hunter might mistake him for a Qaida double agent."

"His mission was not to protect our country but to prevent the airing of administration dirty laundry, including leaks detailing how the White House ignored accurate CIA intelligence on Iraq before the war," Rich writes.

Rich ends his column by suggesting that if Air Force General Michael Hayden is confirmed by the Senate to replace Goss then "someone should charge those senators with treason, too."

Excerpts from Rich's "Will The Real Traitors Please Stand Up?" set for Sunday's edition of the New York Times:

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When America panics, it goes hunting for scapegoats. But from Salem onward, we've more often than not ended up pillorying the innocent. Abe Rosenthal, the legendary New York Times editor who died last week, and his publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, were denounced as treasonous in 1971 when they defied the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers, the secret government history of the Vietnam War. Today we know who the real traitors were: the officials who squandered American blood and treasure on an ill-considered war and then tried to cover up their lies and mistakes. It was precisely those lies and mistakes, of course, that were laid bare by the thousands of pages of classified Pentagon documents leaked to both The Times and The Washington Post.

This history is predictably repeating itself now that the public has turned on the war in Iraq. The administration's die-hard defenders are desperate to deflect blame for the fiasco, and, guess what, the traitors once again are The Times and The Post. This time the newspapers committed the crime of exposing warrantless spying on Americans by the National Security Agency (The Times) and the CIA's secret "black site" Eastern European prisons (The Post). Aping the Nixon template, the current White House tried to stop both papers from publishing and when that failed impugned their patriotism.

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TIMES SELECT SUBSCRIBERS CAN READ FULL RICH COLUMN HERE