The Predictable Distinction Between Us and Them

ABC’s Note reports on NY Times reporter Jim Risen’s appearance on the Today show:

On NBC’s “Today” show this morning, New York Times scribe Jim Risen told Katie Couric that he hopes he will not have to reveal his sources to a grand jury and declared his story to be the exact opposite of the Plame case. Risen claims his sources revealed information for the best possible reasons and he went on to declare those sources “patriots.”

This was highly predictable, of course, but the important thing is that the Plame question is being asked. The force of the Plame precedent is irresistible.
There is a sense in which Risen is correct in saying that the leakers in the two cases are exact opposites: Scooter Libby is a Republican, and the anti-Bush bureaucrats who leaked classified national security information to Risen and his colleagues are, in all likelihood, Democrats. But Risen’s suggestion that his leakers, unlike Scooter Libby, are “patriots,” is risible. As we’ve said before, nearly all leakers believe that their motives are pure. The Plame leakers were motivated by their admirable desire to counter lies that were being told by administration critics, especially Joe Wilson.
One possibly legitimate distinction between the two groups is that the Plame leakers may not have known that there was anything secret about Valerie Plame’s CIA employment–prosecutor Fitzgerald apparently concluded that she was not a covert agent–while there is no doubt that the NSA leakers were well aware that they were compromising highly classified intelligence operations.
In any event, under the governing law, the leakers’ motivations are irrelevant. They committed a crime, and should be prosecuted and jailed.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more:

I guess we’ll see if and how long Risen is willing to stay in jail for his patriotic illegal leakers.


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