April 23, 2006

Leaks and firings

The CIA recently fired an officer who supposedly leaked the secret prison story to the press. On one hand, this is ridiculous in an administration that has looked the other way or aided and abetted the outing of a CIA agent for political purposes. On the other hand, this is a reasoned response. You can't have CIA agents leaking classified information on a whim. Her losing her job may be the price she has to pay to do the right thing. Kind of the way I feel about the torture problem. If you really, really believe that you have a ticking bomb and the only way to get the info is to torture, you do what you have to do, but you do it knowing that you are a) breaking the law, b) doing something terribly wrong only because you think a greater wrong can be prevented, and c) going to have to stand accountable for your actions. Not sure that makes sense, but it does to me.

So, I am ok with her being fired, though I see her as a hero and hope there are more people like her in the CIA. But buried in the Wash Post story is a line that I think is not only typical of this administration, but represents a horrible trend that should be fought:

"The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials."

Like I have said repeatedly, Clinton was accused of politicizing everything, yet his record seemed more moderate than that. He politicized political things, and understood that policy should be left to experts and making the best choice. Bush thinks everything is politics, and has politicized scientific inquiry, foreign policy decisions, and if this quote is true, is politicizing the CIA. You shouldn't care who these people vote for as long as they do their job right.


Anonymous said...

Except she says she didn't leak. And, it seems that much of the info revealed to the press was actually open-source information.

Do you know anything about I. F. "Izzy" Stone? Izzy was a great reporter who knew that acquiring sources within government could put a journalist in a difficult spot.

So, he avoided all that and spent his time reading public documents (these days known as open-source materials) and using his brain. With this strategy he managed to uncover miles of government mendacity. He was one of the first, for example, to question LBJ's characterization of the Gulf of Tonkin attacks.

When asked to describe what he saw as his role as journalist, he responded:

"To write the truth as I see it; to defend the weak against the strong; to fight for justice; and to seek, as best I can, to bring healing perspectives to bear on the terrible hates and fears of mankind, in the hope of someday bringing about one world, in which men will enjoy the differences of the human garden instead of killing each other over them."

It's a shame we don't have reporters like Izzy anymore.


Streak said...

Good point, dave. My post was written before that came out. If she didn't leak it, and is being fired for suspicion or even because, as one blog I read suggested, because she was accused of being a closet Kerry supporter, then that is clearly wrong.

I do remember Stone and that is sorely missed in our culture. The media has become more entertainment than a public service. Many foreign observers really say that we don't have a working media. And that is a shame. And ultimately, dangerous to our republic.