THE BOTTOM LINE IS some information deserves to be classified.
Elsewhere in Breaking News where it is concerned with the freedom of information, AP reporter Nancy Benac writes that “resisting all forms of official coercion is no trivial matter if the press is to perform its proper role as the ‘fourth estate’ of government—providing an independent, outside source of the information that is essential to an educated public and therefore to a functioning democracy.” I couldn’t agree more—I love the “fourth estate” (a term coined by Edmund Burke). Ever since reading All the President’s Men in college, I’ve admired good investigative journalism. If I didn’t appreciate the press, I’d be a hypocrite, given my own contributions to PolicyMic which is very much a part of that fourth estate.
That said, as proud Americans who appreciate democracy, the press and the people would do well to remember Benac’s bit about providing what is “essential” to a “functioning democracy”—that sometimes what allows democracy to succeed is not full disclosure or full transparency. We can ill-afford to feel so infinitely entitled, to be so uncompromising about accountability when it ultimately compromises a democracy’s ability to function properly—i.e., for the benefit of as many individuals as possible.
I’m sure John Kiriakou loves the fourth estate; I’m sure he loves his country, too. Not convicting him, however, may set a very dangerous precedent for those who may unwittingly end up damaging both if Kiriakou weren’t made a proper example of. And while many of my heroes would disagree, the pragmatist they’ve successfully seeded in me simply cannot.
Image Credit (of Kiriakou): AP/Jacquelyn Martin (edited by EWG)
Image Credit (of Chaney): AP/Jae C. Hong (cropped by EWG)
Image Credit (2nd of Kiriakou): AP/Cliff Owen