Tuesday, August 10, 2004

On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront is the story of an ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman who struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses. By degrees he comes to understand that his obligation is to society and right conduct, and not corrupt union bosses. The difference between solidarity and omerta is as great as the grand canyon, but human beings are social creatures and sometimes omerta can look like solidarity.

Matthew Cooper of Time magazine is facing a similar dilemma and we must hope he learns the difference between solidarity and omerta. He is one of the cold-call-six, the reporters who received the leak that Amb. Joe Wilson’s wife was an undercover CIA case officer. Not just any case officer, his wife was in charge of tracking the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Apparently it did not occur to Cooper at the time that he was witnessing a crime in progress and that it was his duty to alert his readers. But at least he knew better than print the story, unlike Robert Novak who took the bait and ran with it.

Such is the cult of anonymous sources that even now the whole controversy has degenerated into a legalistic dispute. The loss of our intelligence network monitoring the spread of weapons of mass destruction, at a time when our country is threatened by terrorism, is not deemed a newsworthy subject. Emboldened by the lack of editorial outrage, the deadly anonymice to continue to sacrifice national security on the alter of political expedience. Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a double agent and computer genius, who had succeeded in penetrating the highest levels of al-Qaeda, was exposed when the anonymice revealed his name in the course of justifying the latest terror alert. Now his usefulness is gone and his life is at great risk.

So, Matthew Cooper tell us, who are the anonymice? Your obligation is to your readers and your country, not the anonymice who place us all in danger. Tell what you know, not just to the grand jury, but to the entire world. It is the story of your life. You could be a contender.

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