The Times, They Are aChangin’

Wow, Eric, you packed a lot into that

provocative opening post

, and led me to read

Lichtblau’s how-the-media-sausage-is made story

I confess I might not otherwise have read, given the day job.  Call me a cynic, but I’ve invariably come away from such stories believing that the press operates in a deeply, deeply flawed way that is, nevertheless, probably the best among alternatives available in a democracy (modulo some more aggressive professional watchdog NGOs and welcoming suggestions of how one might sensibly deal with runaway profit motives).  Pretty much left with the same sense here.

But it strikes me that the conversation so far (involving you, Marty , Orin , David , Dawn ) is less about a disagreement over journalistic practices and more about this larger problem of who makes decisions on questions of legality and national security.  I take it that you don’t think the press should exercise much independent judgment here but rather substantially defer to the executive on questions of effectiveness (though I vigorously join Marty in rejecting your reasons why). But I was perhaps most startled by your suggestion that “in an ideal world,” it would be “better for a judge, rather than a newspaper editor, to decide whether a national security program should be compromised because of doubts about its value or legality.”

Setting aside all kinds of important First Amendment issues here, I’d love to hear your case for why the judiciary has comparatively greater institutional competence than the media in making such an assessment.  If I hadn’t read any of your previous work , I might read you as here arguing for an expanded judicial role in reviewing the national security secrecy views of the executive.  But it can’t possibly be so, can it?