Army Officer’s Letter to the New York Times

Dear Messrs. Keller, Lichtblau & Risen:

Congratulations on disclosing our government’s highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.)

Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato’s guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months’ salary. As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry, and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion — or next time I feel it — I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others — laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,

Tom Cotton
Baghdad, Iraq


2 Responses to Army Officer’s Letter to the New York Times

  1. Matt says:

    What is the rule now regarding national secrets and the press, finders keepers? What’s wrong with the NY Times? Have they lost their minds, or just their hearts?

    Revealing classified secrets (labeled that way for a reason, of course) is about the stupidest thing we can do right now. I read a letter to the Hartford Courant (which also idiotically supports treason) from a World War II veteran from Normandy who doesn’t believe that D-Day could happen nowadays. I have to agree.

    How can we even have an intelligence community if stuff like this keeps happening? Would you care to mention the President’s travel routes every day, oh great press, so that we, the people, can know where he is? I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would just love to say a nice hello to him on the roads. Same with any other world leader, I’m sure.

    A rare kudos to the President and certain elements of Congress for letting these whiny tattle-tales know when to stop blurting out confidential programs.

    Loose lips sink ships, people.

  2. Jay says:

    Right On Matt!

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