Yesterday, Ombud Artie Brisbane over at the NYT Week in Review closed his defense of the Times using the WikiLeak material with these three paragraphs:

What if The New York Times in 1964 had possessed a document showing that L.B.J.’s intent to strike against North Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident was based on false information? Should it have published the material?

What if The Times had possessed documentary evidence showing that the Bush administration’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were unfounded? Should it have published the material?

These questions, which need only be posed rhetorically, supply an answer to the larger question: Would you as a reader rather have the information yourself or trust someone else to hang on to it for you?

There’s a paragraph missing here, that anybody who has been paying attention would insert between the last two:

What if the Times had possessed incontrovertible evidence, compiled by two of its top reporters, including a Pulitizer Prize winner, that proved the Administration was illegally spying on American citizens using a massive wiretapping program?

One of those reporters, Eric Lichtblau, explained how this came down, for those who don’t remember.

If you’re interested in asking Mr Brisbane, his email is

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