The Corner

Rights

On the homepage today, we have the second installment of our series on Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee in the Fourth District of Arkansas.

In 2006, he was leading a platoon in Iraq. Between four-day patrols, he saw on the Internet that the New York Times had exposed yet another national-security program (this one dealing with how we track — or tracked — terrorist financing). Frazzled, maybe, by the death of a soldier in his company, he fired off a letter to the Times, saying that they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Last year, Mother Jones, the leftist magazine, published an attack on Cotton, saying he knew nothing about journalism or the Bill of Rights, basically.

When I visited him last week, I asked Cotton whether he stands by his letter of 2006. Whether he still feels the same way. His answer:

“When people violate the espionage laws, they should be prosecuted. They believe they have First Amendment rights, and that’s a defense they can assert in court. Reporters and editors don’t get to decide for themselves what is and is not a sensitive national-security matter. That’s for the American people to decide through their elected representatives. If people feel Congress has passed a law infringing on their rights, they can go ahead and assert that in court.”

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