Conservative radio host and blogger Hugh Hewitt has been vociferous in his outrage over the New York Times’ disclosure, last Friday, of a secret government program to monitor worldwide financial transactions in its “war on terror.” On Wednesday, he interviewed Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on his radio show, and in talking about the SWIFT case, Romney said, “I find it inexplicable and inexcusable … And I just find it just extraordinary, and I can’t imagine what kind of outcry there would be, had the same thing occurred during the Second World War.”
Well, Governor, it turns out that something very much like the same thing did occur during the Second World War, when the Chicago Tribune actually published a story in 1942 that broke the news that American cryptographers had broken the Japanese communications code. The Navy initially planned to prosecute the paper under the Espionage Act of 1917, but backed off, fearing both more damage from the extra publicity and the possibility that it might have to offer up even more revelations in court.
Granted, this little correction likely won’t change anyone’s mind about the debate, but we thought it was worth pointing out that we’re not on totally new ground here.
And through it all, the Republic has survived.