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January 27, 2006

All the treason fit to print…

The Gray Lady is at it again – publicly releasing privileged government information, illegally leaked, in an all-out effort to discredit the administration and person of President George W. Bush.

When The New York Times, on 16 December, published a story detailing how the National Security Agency targeted certain communications between known international terrorists and their U.S. counterparts or supporters, The Patriot took them to task:

“The Times and all their follow-up media claim their articles are ‘in the national interest’ – to determine if President Bush has broken any laws authorizing the NSA surveillance. However, The Times had already determined, a year earlier when information about the NSA’s surveillance program was first leaked, that President Bush had not violated any laws related to procedures outlined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The President’s actions were fully within his prescribed constitutional authority.”

Since then, the Bush administration has launched a successful all-fronts campaign to defend the surveillance program, but The Times still hasn’t learned its lesson. In Tuesday’s Times, the paper detailed a leaked working paper from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The draft report was highly critical of the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq, deeming the effort a failure in large part. Though incomplete, illegally leaked and intended as an internal document for discussion, The Times chose to run the story.

Once again, The New York Times, not the Bush administration, has broken the law protecting our nation’s security, violating U.S. Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 37, Section 798, pertaining to the illegal release of national-security information.

The Times’ revelation of the NSA surveillance program was, to be sure, an obvious attempt to stymie renewal of the USA Patriot Act in the Senate and to heighten interest in Times reporter James Risen’s soon-to-be-released book, ostensibly detailing all kinds of Patriot Act abuses. We do not suggest, however, that this week’s Times exposŽ on the “badly hobbled” reconstruction efforts in Iraq was timed with similar malice aforethought.

No, this one is much worse. The Times’ most recent leak is a matter of unrepentant partisanship. Blinded by Bush hatred, consumed by an overarching desire to discredit the President with a Woodward-esque coup de gr‰ce, The Times has once again endangered our troops and allies in the field, not to mention the Iraqi people.

Our enemies, you see, read the Western press.

For instance, in 1998, as al-Qa'ida was preparing its 9/11 attack, the NSA was tracking electronic communications from senior al-Qa'ida operatives, including Osama bin Laden. When that information was leaked to, and by, the press, OBL disposed of his old satellite phone system and set up a whole different set of communication protocols, thus eluding any detection of his 9/11 plans.

More recently, The Times released highly classified information about the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program. Then there was The Washington Post’s unveiling of a massive covert CIA program to capture suspected terrorists and interrogate them at secret detention centers around the world. Not to be outdone, U.S. News and World Report took a stab at divulging the detection methods the NSA, CIA and DoD utilize to sniff out fissile material en route to U.S. urban centers. Thanks a bunch.

Now The Times, by releasing incomplete information from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, has once again emboldened our enemies. In the minds of Jihadis, dissident Sunnis and Ba'athist holdouts, any such news of the failure of Iraq reconstruction efforts translates into success for the insurgency. The timing is especially tragic, too, given Iraq’s recent parliamentary elections. Indeed, Iraq’s Sunnis are thirsty for signs of a successful reconstruction, lest they again defect from the democratic process and cower at the prospect of a Ba'athist return. With this latest media-supplied feather in their turbans, the insurgents will no doubt redouble their attacks against our reconstruction efforts. After all, the more encouragement we give them, the harder they’ll try.

And if that’s not a breach of U.S. national security, what is?

As a courtesy to The Times, however, we thought we’d briefly detail what’s been accomplished in Iraq despite their best efforts.

Oil production, which averaged 1.58 million barrels per day in 2003, surged to 2.25 million bpd in 2004. In 2005, that average was down to 2.1 million bpd due to insurgent attacks on the oil infrastructure and poor maintenance of the pipelines under the Ba'athists – but it is now set to rise again.

Iraq’s cities are faring better as well – the Najaf Teaching Hospital, looted and used as a defensive position by the insurgency last year, has reopened, thanks to Coalition efforts, and now serves hundreds of patients every day. Three new electrical substations are currently under construction in Najaf, and new water treatment and sewage systems are also underway – all in the city described as “the center of the insurgency” only a few short months ago.

In Mosul, key bridges and roads across the Tigris River have been restored; schools, hospitals, police stations and firehouses rebuilt; and the city’s water and sewage systems considerably revamped. In addition, the refurbishment of the Mosul Airport is in progress.

All in all, in a mere two-and-a-half years, the U.S. and its allies have helped Iraqis to renovate nearly 3,000 schools, train more than 30,000 teachers, and distribute eight million textbooks. Rebuilt irrigation infrastructure now helps more than 400,000 rural Iraqis, and another three million benefit from improved drinking water.

Significantly, reconstruction efforts throughout the country have sustained Iraq’s economic recovery and normalization. Iraq’s nominal GDP almost doubled from $13.6 billion in 2003 to $25.5 billion in 2004. Real growth for 2005 is estimated at 3.7 percent, and another surge of 17 percent is predicted for 2006. At the same time, per capita GDP, having dropped to $518 in 2003, exceeded $1,000 in 2005.

Want further evidence of Iraq’s economic recovery? A whopping 30,000 new businesses have registered since April 2003, and the country’s nascent stock market averaged a daily trading volume of $100 million for 2005, up from an average $86 million in 2004. Sixty-nine percent of businesses, says Zogby International, are “optimistic” about the country’s economic future. Despite continued violence and shortfalls in electricity, seven out of ten Iraqis say their lives are going well.

The reconstruction of Iraq certainly hasn’t been perfect, and no report meant to inform our nation’s policymakers should say so. Still, this is pretty good news. At The New York Times, however, good news – unless it’s good news for our enemies – just isn’t fit to print.

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