"Whatever were they thinking?" This comment from my wife after hearing that the New York Times had published a story telling every terrorist loon in the world how our government was going about tracking their financial transactions.
I should mention that the tone she used is the one that, most often, makes me want to hide.
I don’t know your opinion of the war. Frankly, it doesn’t matter.
For it or against it. Republican or Democrat. Stay in or get out. It doesn’t matter because we have soldiers over there who are our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, and our neighbors and friends. And, because of this, we should all be able to agree that we’d never knowingly do anything that might make their task more difficult or help the terrorists in any way.
Pretty simple ideas, right?
Pretty straightforward concepts, wouldn’t you think?
Unfortunately for our troops, it seems that the powers that be at the Times skipped "Simple Ideas and Straightforward Concepts 101."
So, to help them out, let’s try a few illustrations.
It’s 1942 and you’re a sailor headed for the Battle of Midway. This is going to be one of the most critical engagements of World War II. As a nation, we’ve suffered a long string of setbacks and we’re counting on this battle to reverse that tide and give us the upper hand in the Pacific.
Things were looking good. We’d cracked the Japanese code and had a pretty good idea of how we were going to pull it off until the New York Times published a front page story that said: "U.S. cracks Japanese code. Enemy war plans revealed."
Shortly thereafter, the Japanese changed their codes and, now, instead of sailing into the Battle of Midway with aces up our sleeves, we’re facing an armada of aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines and - thanks to the Times - we’re going in blind.
Oh, by the way, that incoming torpedo you see isn’t one of ours.
Or, suppose you’re one of the troops tagged to be in the first wave at Omaha Beach. You know that the Germans have been fortifying the French coast for years. You know that there are battle-hardened divisions waiting to concentrate at one spot to greet you if only they knew exactly where you were going to land.
Ike, "Monty," Bradley and a host of other allied generals know this too and they’ve done everything in their power to convince the Germans that the invasion will occur at the Pas-de-Calais instead of in Normandy where you’ll be wading ashore.
They’ve floated a dead body onto a German held beach with false information. They’ve set up an entire fictitious Army in England with bogus radio traffic, canvas tanks, and fake airplanes. They’ve even had George Patton playing a (very unwilling) part in the whole charade.
Just prior to the invasion, however, the New York Times trumpets: "Ruse is effective. German high command believes invasion will occur at Pas-de-Calais instead of Normandy."
Yep, that’s the 12th SS Panzer Division and a few of its cohorts on its way to welcome you ashore.
I think "Whatever were they thinking?" gives the folks at the Times way too much credit. That question presupposes that they were thinking at all.
I can understand harsh editorials condemning the war, blaming the President, and making a case for a different policy. That’s completely acceptable in this country.
What I can’t understand is destroying a program that had been briefed to Congress, that the Times itself admitted was perfectly legal, that was proving successful in capturing terrorists and drying up their funds, and that this very same newspaper basically called for immediately after 9/11.
One way to explain this story might be to paraphrase a statement once made by Senator John McCain. "If hypocrisy were gold, the New York Times would be Fort Knox."
However, to the soldiers in Iraq who might find themselves battered and bloody (or worse) from a bomb made from funds that had found another way into terrorists’ hands, I’m afraid we’d have to do a lot better.
That these soldiers are already aware of this is stingingly evident in a few of the letters that the Times has already received from them.
I suppose that the only good thing to come from this fiasco is that at least we now know where to send the front half of a horse for the part needed to complete the assembly.
That would be to the executive offices of the New York Times.