During WWII the Brits, with the help of the Polish Cipher Bureau, managed to piece together working models of the German Enigma machine which led to the breaking of the Nazis highest codes. Intelligence from this was code named “ULTRA”. Later the Americans would break the Japanese highest diplomatic code Purple that also relied on the Enigma machine, that intelligence was code named “MAGIC”. The British intelligence from ULTRA was decisive in winning the Battle of Britain, which led Hitler to abandon Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of England. The MAGIC intercepts led to our winning at Midway, the turning point in the Pacific war. Both were also used to monitor spying activity in the UK and US.
The value of this intelligence was so high that it was the most closely guarded secret of the war. Only nine people in the US were privy to MAGIC. In order to protect ULTRA Churchill condemned hundreds of people in Coventry to their deaths rather than warn them the Germans were going to bomb. Some contend FDR ordered the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans rather than focus on the espionage rings MAGIC identified in order to keep the knowledge from Japan that we had broken their code.
One has to wonder that if the Washington Post or New York Times had gotten hold of this electronic surveillance without a court order would they have gone public to the detriment of the war effort? Of course not, those were different times when one could be both a patriot and a journalist. The American left still believed that the Nazis and Imperial Japanese were the enemy and there was no moral relativism that likened FDR or Churchill to Hitler or Tojo. Sadly that is no longer the case, our secrets can be splashed all over the nation’s newspapers to the delight of our enemies. Be assured that Al Qaeda communications into and out of the US has been sharply curtailed. Now that they know we are listening without warrants, with out the long delays necessary to get FISA permission they are rethinking their policies and procedures to take into account the valuable intelligence given them by the New York Times.
Americans are being illegally spied on by Bush, the left cries. Keep in mind the only surveillance occurring was on phone numbers obtained from data located in captured Al Qaeda computers. Zacarias Moussaoui had such numbers but the FBI bureaucracy involved in applying for a FISA warrant did not allow us to connect the dots and prevent 9/11. Keep in mind that a legion of White House lawyers think this is legal. Keep in mind that the Clinton White House felt the same way. Keep in mind that this story was released at the same time as one of the most historic events to take place in the Middle East was occurring. Keep in mind that congress was continually briefed on this. With all this in mind I can sure as hell question the patriotism of these journalist who seem to mind not at all who may die as a result of their never ending hatred of George Bush.