Remember back when the New York Times first disclosed the existence of the NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program. A number of us contended that this should be grounds for a prosecution because it alerted the enemy to our signals intelligence efforts in wartime.
"NONSENSE!" replied the Times and its allies. You see, they explained, al Qaeda well knew that we were using every means in our arsenal to penetrate its communications. Telling terrorists about the NSA program didn't alert them to anything they weren't already well aware of.
Well, apparently the ACLU, CAIR, Greenpeace and the other "public interest" ogranizations who sued the government did not get the memo.
In order to convince Judge Anna Diggs Taylor to invalidate the NSA program, these plaintiffs had to establish that they had "standing" to sue — meaning that they had suffered some kind of individualized harm, something that was unique because it is not enough for standing purposes to simply claim a general objection to government policies.
So how did these plaintiffs claim to have been harmed? They are journalists, lawyers and scholars who do research and other work in the Middle East. But now, according to Judge Taylor's opinion, they have sworn in affidavits that "Persons abroad who before the program [became pubic knowledge] spoke with them by telephone or internet no longer do so." They are, she says, "stifled in their ability to vigorously conduct research, interact with sources, talk to clients," because people suddenly think the U.S. government is listening.
So which is it? Is the TSP leak a big nothing that changed no one's behavior, or a bombshell that changed everyone's behavior? Evidently, it depends on which scenario the Left believes will damage the Bush administration more on any given day.
Yes, because everyone knows that journalists, lawyers, scholars and al Qaeda operatives all go about their work with the same level of secrecy and suspicion*, and the fact that some journalists, lawyers and scholars changed their behaviour in the wake of the NSC wiretap stories is a strong indicator that al Qaeda responded in precisely the same way, after being similarly surprised. Yeah.
*(After all, they're pretty much on the same side, right? The latter group flies planes into buildings, and the former muddies our moral clarity and weakens our will to win with their "reporting," their "legal reasoning" and their "scholarly research.")