There May Be Hard Cases But. . . . the FISA Story Isn’t One of Them

Perhaps I am tainted by having once been a journalist, but although


raises a host of interesting questions that could be plucked from a good Columbia School of Journalism class on reportorial ethics, all of which may be hard to answer in the abstract, I should think that a govenrmental practice of surveilling numerous American citizens that is in direct contravention of an existing federal statute (indeed, a statute that makes such violation a felony); that is justified only by reference to a vaguely worded subsequent statute that provides so little clear support that it must be augmented by a controversial claim of preclusive executive authority entitling the President to act in violation of a congressional enactment; and that precipitates a near mass walkout by the highest levels of the Justice Department because they believe that the law is being flouted woud be a pretty good case for … publishing!  As for why there was a delay, I do not know.  And perhaps

The Times

can be faulted, if this is Eric’s point, for undue delay.   But insofar as Eric means to suggest that somehow this information should not or would not have been published by a responsible newspaper weighing all the right questions, and that it was only some unseemly competitive motive that can explain its ultimate decision to print this news, then I for one am glad that in this instance we had an “irresponsible” daily rag up and running.