Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On Incompetence, Naivete and Hubris at the New York and Los Angeles Times

I tried to leave a comment on Hugh Hewitt's excellent article on the NYT and LAT pieces on the tracking terrorist financial transactions. Unfortunately (for me if not for anyone else) I couldn't get it to format correctly. So I'm posting it here:

Dear Hugh,

Great to see you writing for

You have cogently expressed the anger that so many conservatives and I dare say more than a few moderates feel about the Times' stories.

The lack of responsibility their editors evidenced borders on the incomprehensible. You have clearly exposed how utterly out of their league these incompetent people were in their actions.

That these men, with virtually no formal training in issues of national security could make such far-reaching pronouncements and decisions regarding our national security staggers the mind. Have they no sense of proportion, no sense of the gravity of their actions? You’ve made their childlike naiveté palpable.

You were so right to expose them in this way. I'm not a psychoanalyst or a mind-reader so I can't draw empirically-based conclusions about the motivations for their inconceivable and irrevocable actions although such might include a profit or prestige motive which perhaps seems most likely. Nor would I be so bold as to conclude that their hidden agendas really include providing succor to our sworn terrorist enemies. But rather than explain their actions, you’ve more importantly exposed their recklessness, their lack of responsibility, their blindness to any semblance of perspective and above all, a hubris that in its magnitude defies the imagination.

I seriously doubt that the White House has the desire to go after the NYT and LAT under treason statutes. However, I hope beyond all hope that they bring the full weight of the executive branch’s power to bear on finding the treasonous individual(s) who so ignominiously leaked details of this program to the press.

These individuals should be found and tried for their crimes if for no other reason to put the fear of God in those who would consider aiding our enemies in the future.

As for the NYT, the LAT and any other media outlet that may be exposed to classified information related to the national security, perhaps through articles such as this one, you may have given them pause in the future. Hopefully these authors and editors, not to mention future would-be Pulitzer winners, will on some level sense humiliation and disgrace in their actions.

I am hopeful, but not optimistic.

John S. Ford, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA


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