Richard Valeriani

A former NBC News reporter called the New York Times’ publishing of a story exposing a classified program to track terrorist financing “irresponsible.”

The paper’s decision, said Richard Valeriani, is akin to “giving Anne Frank’s address to the Nazis.”

Valeriani posted his criticism in a weblog on Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post, noted media observer Jim Romanesko.

Valeriani wrote that as “someone who spent most of his adult life as a journalist, much of it covering national security affairs, I find the decision of the New York Times and other newspapers to publish the story about the administration’s money-tracing program to be really irresponsible.”

He doesn’t fault the reporters, however, pointing out “it’s their job to find out such things.”

“The fault lies with the editors who put what they perceive as their own self-interest or the interest of their newspaper ahead of the national interest,” he said.

The Times’ report followed its publication last year exposing the federal government’s National Security Agency surveillance of international-based phone and electronic communications aimed at preventing terror attacks. The paper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the story.

In his blog post, Valeriani asked, “Where was the so-called ‘public interest?'” in the Times’ publication of the story.

“There was no compelling need for the public to know about this,” he said. “The story itself acknowledged there was nothing illegal going on – only an anonymous acknowledgement that there was a ‘potential’ for abuse.”

Valeriani called the Times actions “show-off journalism, pure and simple … .”

He recalled the day after the take-over of the American Embassy in Iran in 1979, he found out six American diplomats had escaped and were at large somewhere in Tehran.

“The executive editor at NBC Nightly News wanted to run the story, but fortunately, management was more sensible, and we did not report the story at the time,” he said. “As someone pointed out, it would have been like giving Anne Frank’s address to the Nazis.”

Valeriani concluded: “Running the story about the money-tracing program is a version of giving Anne Frank’s address to the Nazis.”

As WorldNetDaily reported, two conservative groups plan to lead a demonstration Monday at the Washington, D.C., bureau of the New York Times to protest the newspaper’s publishing of stories exposing national security intelligence programs.

The D.C. Chapter of the popular web forum and watchdog Accuracy in Media are calling for the prosecution of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Executive Editor Bill Keller and reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for “giving aid and comfort to al-Qaida.”

The protest will take place at noon at 1627 I St. N.W. in Washington.

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