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Helping the enemy?

Not everyone was pleased with reporter Carl Prine's investigation into the lack of security at America's chemical facilities -- detailed in Exposé's "Think Like a Terrorist (Pt. 1)." In fact, after his initial reports were published in the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, he was sharply criticized by several government officials, including the U.S. Attorney General's office, which claimed his reporting "directly aided the enemy" by publicly exposing vulnerable targets. The Pennsylvania Department of Emergency Management went so far as to tell Prine he "might as well send a free subscription to Osama bin Laden, because you're his best friend."
Since 9/11, many journalists have been attacked for revealing information deemed sensitive to national security. When the NEW YORK TIMES reported on a secret operation tracing the financial records of suspected terrorists, the Bush Administration was outraged and the paper was flogged by conservatives.

Some have suggested the resulting clampdown on information and general distrust of dissenting opinions in the media is actually a "war on the press." Others have compared the current hostility towards the press to tensions felt during the Vietnam War.

How do journalists weigh the public's right to know and national security concerns when reporting? The American Journalism Review asked editors at top newspapers this very question. In the AJR article, NEW YORK TIMES Executive Editor Bill Keller says there's a "tacit protocol" for dealing with stories the government deems to be threatening to national security. "If the administration is really serious, somebody fairly senior on their side contacts somebody fairly senior on our side," he says. He also says top editors weigh questions such as: "How fully do the journalists trust their sources? How far do they trust the government officials urging them not to publish? How secret is the secret? Can the story be told in a way that minimizes the risk?"

In Exposé’s “Think Like a Terrorist (Pt. 2),” premiering online this Wednesday, reporter Carl Prine responds to his critics.

>> What do you think? When does the need to protect national security outweigh the public's right to know? And vice versa? Did Prine's reporting serve the public by alerting us about security weaknesses? Or did he put us in danger? Send us your comments below.


Comments

This series of Carl Prine's may make many stick their fingers in their ears feeling overwhelmed about the sheer size of the problem. But we cannot fix a problem unless we know it is there.

Joe Biden's legislation was a good start, and yet I never heard any reports of it even coming to the floor.

The rail and chemical industries will, of course, stonewall legislation not wanting to ever find themselves liable for the kind of disaster that presents itself in Prine's sterling reporting; they need to grow up and take responsibility. If it needs federal dollars to do it, Lord knows they know how to procure it.

Either way Carl and company, you have once again proven the true nature of heroism.

I don't understand the logic of people who think Mr. Prine is "helping the terrorists" plot the next attack on the U.S. The ones helping the terrorists are those in power who continue to do an inadequate job at securing our railways, airports and chemical plants. As a lifelong New Jersey resident, I have been aware, long before 9/11, of the dangers posed by our proximity to freight railways, the port at Elizabeth, Newark International Airport and by the lack of security at these facilities. Thank you Mr. Prine for your diligence. How sad for this country that Senator Bidens bill for tighter security on our rail lines was "derailed" by the industries that should ultimately be held responsible when the unthinkable, but not the improbable, happens. Shame on them. They will not be able to say "Well, how could we have known this would happen?" Reminds me of the talking heads after 9/11, saying the exact same thing about airplanes being used as bombs. Well, we know differently now, don't we ? The writing was on the wall before that day, as it is written on the wall today.

The people that think Mr. Prine is helping the enemy need to pull their heads out of the sand and look around a little harder. Never underestimate your enemy. I learned that fact in Vietnam!

Kudos to Carl Prine. We need more motivated citizens like him. Can't say enough good stuff.

What a shame that the Security heads don't grab Carl for an Advisor instead of trying to bury him under their mistakes.

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