Intellectual Dilettantes At Play In The Fields of Punditry
The reasoning of John Hinderaker--which we'd charitably describe as protean--was on full display this past weekend on CNN's Reliable Sources:
KURTZ: OK. Let's move -- let's move beyond the legal justification. You think the public doesn't have a right to know because classified information is involved that the CIA is maintaining secret presence in Eastern Europe, that the Bush administration is conducting wiretaps in this country without -- without warrants? You would be just as happy if reporters could not publish that kind of information?
HINDERAKER: Oh, absolutely. There's all kinds of information that you can't give to the American public without also giving it to the terrorists. That's what "The New York Times" did, and as a result our security has been compromised.
The NSA program was capturing lots of international terrorist communications. That's dropped off drastically since "The New York Times" published the story. So they've -- they've damaged our security.
The emphasized passage, which comes without a source or citation of any kind, is the sort of statement that should make any sober scholar cringe. It is, in fact, an entirely unsubstantiated claim--the sort that would send serious minded professors reaching for their reddest and most aggressive pens.
Now, we certainly do not in any way frown on Mr. Hinderaker making these sorts of statements in public. We have a picture of Debbie Stabenow with a sign commenting on her grunderwear on display today, for Pete's sake! But it is remarkable that the very next query to Mr. Hinderaker isn't something along the lines of, "What the effington effervescent fuck? How is it possible that you, John Hinderaker, an absolute NOBODY in the intelligence community, could possibly know what the NSA program is or is not accomplishing since the New York Times published its article?"
And if by some stroke of fancypants fortune that Hinderaker DID have a reliable source at the NSA, the next thing we'd ask is: "So, dude, why are you on TV giving aid and comfort to our enemies by talking up the NSA's diminished capacity? Wouldn't it help protect freedom if you told the world that the NSA hasn't missed a beat and is catching all sorts of terrorists?"
I guess there's all kinds of information you can't give to John Hinderaker without also giving it to the terrorists. Still, there's nothing quite like celebrating Hinderaker's patented brand of inchoate logic, so we'd like to point out that there have been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since Senator Russ Feingold introduced his resolution to censure the President. That must mean that censuring the President is the newest and most cutting-edge weapon on the war on terror in our arsenal. Emphasis on the arse.