Via Conor Friedersdorf, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller has a detailed essay about how and why the Times published the last Wikileaks dump. He concludes
Although it is our aim to be impartial in our presentation of the news, our attitude toward these issues is far from indifferent. The journalists at The Times have a large and personal stake in the country’s security. We live and work in a city that has been tragically marked as a favorite terrorist target, and in the wake of 9/11 our journalists plunged into the ruins to tell the story of what happened here. Moreover, The Times has nine staff correspondents assigned to the two wars still being waged in the wake of that attack, plus a rotating cast of photographers, visiting writers and scores of local stringers and support staff. They work in this high-risk environment because, while there are many places you can go for opinions about the war, there are few places — and fewer by the day — where you can go to find honest, on-the-scene reporting about what is happening. We take extraordinary precautions to keep them safe, but we have had two of our Iraqi journalists murdered for doing their jobs. We have had four journalists held hostage by the Taliban — two of them for seven months. We had one Afghan journalist killed in a rescue attempt. Last October, while I was in Kabul, we got word that a photographer embedded for us with troops near Kandahar stepped on an improvised mine and lost both his legs.
We are invested in the struggle against murderous extremism in another sense. The virulent hatred espoused by terrorists, judging by their literature, is directed not just against our people and our buildings but also at our values and at our faith in the self-government of an informed electorate. If the freedom of the press makes some Americans uneasy, it is anathema to the ideologists of terror.
I'm with Friedersdorf; I think this gets it right. He says:
This description – and it seems fair and accurate to me – puts the Times in a much different light than is cast by some of its critics, who'd have us believe that the newspaper, which in many ways is establishmentarian (to a fault on occassion), is actually a trangressive, post-national entity with a knee-jerk tenency to blame America first.
I submit that in the matter of Wikileaks, the American people were a lot better off for the involvement of The New York Times than we would've been had the documents been dumped on the Internet without the newspaper's involvement – and that, even if you disagree with some of the decisons they made, which is reasonable enough, their approach to this matter was cogent and defensible.
Both the article and Friedersdorf's analysis are worth reading.