NYT Publishing the Obvious Isn't Treason: But Outing Valerie Plame Is

So now we have both Bush and Cheney lashing out at The New York Times for spilling the beans that -perish the thought- we are monitoring international financial transactions of suspected terrorists.

And today, conservative Republicans and their fright-wing talk-show host lackeys are yelling that the NYT- which, incidentally, they did not question when former Times staffer Judy Miller was relaying Iraqi WMD scare stories fed to her by Mr. Chalabi- ought to be charged with treason.

The party line goes that in publishing news of this financial monitoring, that we are tipping our hand to the terrorists.

As if they didn't know they are being watched already?

I can imagine the panic in terrorist circles- "the evil U.S. has been following our money"! So word gets out to the paymasters that the 50K meant for that domestic U.S. Al-Queda cell to buy nerve gas had better not be wired from Karachi, via Switzerland, and then to an account at Citibank. To think- these funds will now have to be handed over to a courier in some dusty back alley in Peshawar.

In my opinion, The Times did not reveal any national secrets. Stating the obvious- and annotating the obvious- is not treason.

But outing a CIA operative - especially because you are pissed off that her husband busted you on your Nigerian yellowcake lies- now that's treason.

Just so you know, Valerie Plame was working on undercover research about the Iranian nuclear program.

An Iranian nuke program - if it exists at all- that we suspect is more real than Nigerian yellowcake.

An Iranian nuke - if it exists at all - which we know less about than the terrorists know about our financial monitoring about their transactions.

Experienced CIA operatives such as Valerie Plame might have been able to make the airtight case that such a program does exist. But not anymore, because her effectiveness was destroyed when she was outed by powerful forces.

Many of the same powerful forces who are angry at the New York Times for merely annotating the obvious.

So I say to some of you who are shouting treason at The New York Times: look in the mirror. Do you see the face of treason?

Look in the mirror.