Monday, June 26, 2006

Don't do that, Dolores!

Looks like efforts to persuade Keller and Lichtblau not to publish the secret financial monitoring program details weren't even narrow.

And there was another NYT publication of secret stuff today -- this time, troop withdrawal plans.

One question is "Can the NYT continue to do whatever it wants, convinced there will never be consequences?" Is the price of prosecuting them for breaking the law more than the gain? Like suing the National Enquirer, do they get more from the PR than they lose?

Another question is, "Why didn't the Justice Department simply tell them, 'Publish this, go to prison' ?"

Prior restraint isn't, as a lot of attorneys have pointed out, an issue. They're not prevented from publishing, they're merely being made aware of consequences.

Teachers and parents know the difference between, "I'll physically hold you back from doing it," and "Don't do it or I'll put you in time out."

Unfortunately, ignoring misbehavior sometimes doesn't work. Then, either you do the latter decisively or you have a problem. "Don't do that" becomes meaningless or you end up stuck doing the former.

The analogy with immigration policy is not too strained. We have laws. We don't enforce them. What happens when we don't? What should we do now that we've ignored the problem and it's just gotten worse? Repeal immigration laws? Impose some draconian punishment on illegals?

No one, including the NYT, seems to be arguing that what they've done is actually legal. And the NYT isn't even apologetic, so there's no reason to think they'll stop.

So now what? A "guest leaker" policy?

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