20 May 2013

Do Democrats hate the ACLU now?

The American Civil Liberties Union has joined this month's chorus of criticism of the Obama administration, focusing on the Justice Department's targeting of journalists. In the view of one ACLU official, the newest revelation is the worst yet. Back in 2010, we learn now, the DOJ sought and received a warrant to search the e-mails of a Fox News reporter, describing James Rosen as a "co-conspirator" in the leaking of documents received from a State Department security adviser. In the DOJ's view, Rosen, while unindicted, violated the Espionage Act of 1917. One can't help being reminded of the transactions between Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, but Rosen seems to have gotten more sympathy from some quarters already than Assange ever has. That's probably because Rosen is an accredited member of the journalist profession, while Assange is an outsider by comparison. I wonder also whether Rosen will get less sympathy from some people than those people extend to Assange, if only because of his employer. If he works for Fox, the reasoning may go, Rosen must have been up to something wicked. Meanwhile, I'm sure some people who'd still like to see both Assange and Manning dead will treat Rosen as a valiant victim, notwithstanding anything they've advocated in the past to suppress leaks. Again, partisanship and cynicism will distort perceptions of this latest scandal. while those who've taken a consistent position on leakers or whistleblowers, either cheering or condemning them, will prove few and far between. If the Rosen case drives anyone to rethink their position on leaks and leakers, their original position probably wasn't a strong or objective one in the first place. An objective position on the subject should have nothing to do with "who benefits" from leaks or the prosecution of leakers -- unless the nation's benefit is your real concern.

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