Another CIA Leak; Who Cares?

For the last two years, we have been complaining about the CIA’s war against the Bush administration, which has been fueled by one leak after another on the part of CIA officials. These leaks, all or most of which involved classified information, have appeared mainly in the Washington Post and the New York Times, and have then been repeated in pretty much every newspaper in America. When CIA leaks hurt the administration, these papers have gleefully passed them on. It was only when Scooter Libby mentioned the name of a non-covert CIA employee, Valerie Plame, that the Post, the Times, and other MSM outlets suddenly developed a faux concern about lapses in security.

That concern turns out to have been a one-time event. Today, the Post is back to its old tricks, as the great Bill Bennett points out on NRO:

[T]hat support for the CIA, and that respect for secrecy in war and intelligence, lasted only as long as they thought it might bring down a high official like Karl Rove. Now they’re back to their old selves.

Item: Dana Priest of the Washington Post writes a front-page story on Wednesday headlined, CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons. Pay close attention to the second sentence of the story: “The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.”

“Secret”! “Covert”! So after the press and the Left make a meal of the allegation that people in the White House might have leaked the name of a covert operative, and after we find out that Plame was indeed not a covert operative under the law, the Washington Post — by its own admission — can print classified information that involves covert CIA activity?

This is an outrage. It took less than a day for al Jazeera to run with the story. And by Dana Priest’s own admission in an online discussion forum on the Washington Post’s website she states, “The article [I wrote] is bommeranging [sic] around Europe, especially Eastern Europe.”

It sure is, and now the European Union, the Hague, and other organizations are investigating our allies who are working with us in holding high-value targets like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin Al-Shib. It’s not enough that our allies in Europe have suffered terrorism (cf. Spain, the U.K.) because of their siding with us — we now have to expose others, and give more justification to terrorists to attack our allies? And we have to suffer the war-time distraction of rebuilding sites and moving these prisoners?

This is irresponsibility at its highest; it’s also hypocrisy. As for Plame? Well, here again is Dana Priest in her online forum: “I don’t actually think the Plame leak compromised national security, from what I’ve been able to learn about her position.”

No, but the Post’s publication of this most recent leak did. And let’s never forget the outrage committed by the New York Times, when it outed a CIA operation that really was covert. We wrote about it here. The leak on which the Times based its story had to be illegal, and the Times’ exposure of covert CIA airline traffic likely endangered the lives of CIA agents in the field. Did the Times care? Not a bit! As long as the story might embarrass the Bush administration and hamper the war on terror, the Times was delighted to pass on confidential CIA information.

I like the precedent established by the Plame investigation. I think that CIA leaks of classified information should be investigated, and the leakers should be prosecuted. I want the Post and Times reporters who wrote these stories subpoenaed and questioned about their sources. If they won’t answer, they should go to jail. The leakers can be caught, and when caught, they should be prosecuted.

Why isn’t this being done? I can’t imagine. Maybe the Bush administration is afraid that if it pursues CIA leakers by subpoenaing reporters, it won’t get such good press coverage.

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