By Jon Dougherty
We have made the observation before that in the age of Donald Trump, the establishment media has become a national security liability due to the fact that major outlets will publish just about anything in order to undermine him.
But in doing so, these same outlets also undermine our country — and some 312 million American citizens — making them as big a threat to our security as any foreign power.
The New York Times did it again Sunday with a story claiming that the Trump administration has escalated attacks on Russia’s power grid:
The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.
In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.
Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.
But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.
“It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” one senior intelligence official told the Times. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”
You know what else carries “significant risk?” Reporting classified information that provides valuable insight and intelligence for a nuclear-armed adversary.
So much for “Russia collusion,” right?
The revelations infuriated POTUS Trump, and rightfully so. He said on Twitter the paper committed “a virtual act of Treason” over its report, The Hill noted.
“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia,” Trump tweeted. “This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country.”
“Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today,” he added. “They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
He also claimed the Times report was “NOT TRUE.”
The fact is the Times report most likely is true. Rational people understand that in light of report after report regarding Russia/China/Iran/North Korea targeting U.S. infrastructure, it makes sense for America — which is a cyber superpower — to respond in kind.
But these kinds of operations are not meant to be revealed. Doing so not only compromises said operations, but foreign intelligence agencies gleaning details from published open source information very often learn things that help them counter our moves.
Which, again, puts our country at risk.
The Times editors know this. They understand full well what revealing this kind of highly classified information can mean to an adversary.
And yet, they published it anyway. Just to ‘get Donald Trump.’
What does that say about them? It says — again — that the president has been right about our own press since he took office: They are more of an enemy than some of our adversaries. Or at least the equivalent.
Even though we have speech protections written into our Constitution via the First Amendment, you still can’t slander someone, libel them, yell ‘fire’ in a theater, or engage in various forms of “hate” speech.
Publishing highly classified information that provides ‘aid and comfort’ to an adversary should be legally actionable as well. Doing so harms our country by weakening our national security.
Think about it: Does anyone believe that FDR would not have punished the NYTimes or the Washington Post if either paper had published plans for the D-Day invasion, just because their editors believed Americans ‘had a right to know’?
Granted, we were in an actual war then, and we’re not fighting Russia — now. Though you could argue that in places like Syria, where Russian-sponsored mercenaries from the Wagner Group attacked U.S. forces and their allies early last year, amounts to a real conflict. Or Russia putting forces into Venezuela, in our hemisphere. Or encroaching on NATO’s eastern flank.
We have argued before that reporting the details about these highly classified operations are harming our national security at a time when the world is more dangerous than ever, not less, and for no good reason. The Times is just as guilty, in our view, as the U.S. officials who leaked the information. If they can be charged under the Espionage Act, then the ‘paper of record’ that published the information should be equally culpable.
The president is right.
This article was first published on TheNationalSentinel.com
By Jon Dougherty