The news out of Washington is beginning to look truly bizarre, as though somebody were in the process of making a really bad movie based on an even worse political thriller novel.
What happened, for those who haven’t kept up with the soap du jour,* is that highly-placed CIA staffer Mary McCarthy has been fired for admitting to illegally giving out classified information to the press -- information which was sure to damage international relations during wartime. On the other side of the split screen, Lewis “Scooter” Libby is being prosecuted for possibly lying when he said he couldn’t recall when he said and heard something about something which was not a state secret at all, and which would have had no real impact on international anything, even if it had been a leaked secret. Got that?
McCarthy, while serving in the office to which agents and analysts within the CIA might report ethics or secrecy violations, did exactly what her job was designed to prevent -- it made the agency more porous while giving unelected members of that bureaucracy an inordinate amount of unconstitutional power over our elected leader. It also undermined the agency’s own credibility, both before our nation and to the world. She had, as a government employee, taken an oath of secrecy, knowing that she, herself, was not authorized to decide what should be deemed secret. By law and by job description, she was simply a conduit for ethical correction within the maze of secrets. Had somebody come to her with a clear violation, it would have been her responsibility to investigate further, or to hand the problem off to somebody better qualified to handle it (e.g., her immediate superior or the Senate Intelligence Committee). It is not merely a breach of protocol to skip proper channels, it is a violation of law to take it directly to the media -- something she would have been obliged to report to her boss, had she learned somebody else had tried it.
And the information she leaked has yet to be confirmed by any of the other countries claimed to have been involved -- not for lack of trying, on their parts. It seems she leaked damaging information which was, in all likelihood, a fiction. She damaged our international good will with a lie, not unlike one Joseph Wilson, who claimed that “Saddam Hussein did not attempt to buy uranium from Niger”.
On the flip side, again (tied to the Wilson thing), Libby and the White House staff are being treated as criminals by the press and others, for having shared (with the selfsame press) lawfully declassified information, cleared through proper channels, which helped to make the case against Saddam -- information which, indeed, strongly supported the President’s oft cited but seldom accurately quoted “sixteen words”.** Those documents legally released, and many others, prove that Bush told the truth. All available evidence shows that it was Joe Wilson who was, at best, in error, and, at worst, lying like a yellowcake dog.
McCarthy’s supporters in the media and in the Capitol are lionizing her as a “brave whistleblower”, while the people who went through legitimate, legal channels are labeled “leakers” and are being prosecuted.
But the McCarthy case gets more interesting than her having simply, illegally, leaked sensitive information. Mary McCarthy is clearly a partisan player: she contributed $5000 to last election’s Democratic party campaign in her home state of Ohio (of contested vote fame), as well as having given the limit a private citizen may donate -- $2000 -- to John Kerry’s election campaign coffers. And this partisanship seems to go farther back than the start of the new millennium: she was a member of Clinton’s National Security Council, alongside Sandy Burglar (excuse me, Berger), Richard “Clinton-knew-nothing-pre-9/11-about-Osama-even-with-all-that-intel-on-his-desk” Clarke, Valerie “the cover girl ex-spy” Plame, and that aforementioned Joe Wilson... all well-known for their overt contempt for our lawfully elected leader and for truth. All have, quite recently, lied to further the opposition to our elected leadership. All have, at various times, made false statements to the detriment of our nation’s finest. All have undermined national security with their statements and actions. And they have a history together... Hmmm. Good gravy, we have enough to launch a conspiracy theory!
Still, even Robert Ludlum would be ashamed to attach his name to a plot like this one. It’s more in line with something Orwellian, as filmed by Oliver Stone unmedicated.
*for details, I recommend you check out Hot Air's CIA Leak: A Blog Primer
** Daniel McKivergan at WorldwideStandard.com has included these words in an anaysis of a related item: 60 Minutes of Distortion