Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mary McCarthy is not Ben Franklin

Kim at Wizbang notices ABC's attempt to explain away Mary McCarthy leaking top secret information from the CIA while we're at a state of war. Other people in our history have leaked so I guess it's all equivalent.
Benjamin Franklin lost his job as postmaster after he leaked private letters to reveal political leanings of colonial leaders — letters that helped fan the flames of the Revolution.
Ben Franklin leaked private letters from Thomas Hutchinson, the Royal Governor of Massachusetts urging royal authorities to suspend the liberties of the colonists and send more troops to the colonies. Franklin leaked the letters to Sons of Liberty in Boston who published the letters thus enraging Bostonians. Leaders in Parliament were so infuriated that they brought Franklin before the the House of Commons and excoriated him. He then lost his job as Postmaster and returned to the colonies to play a role in the Continental Congress.

Okay, do you see any similarity with a high-level CIA agent, sworn to secrecy, leaking top secret information while we're at war? Come on. Franklin was an adversary with the British at this point. Now, the real comparison would be to whoever in the British government who leaked the letters to Franklin. But that information is lost to us now. There is no parallel between Franklin and McCarthy.

Then ABC goes on with an even more far-fetched comparison. Somehow Paul Revere's famous ride to arouse the Minutemen becomes a "leak."
Not that there was any shortage of horseback riding leakers in the old days. In fact, you might say it was the "midnight ride" of Paul Revere and his unauthorized disclosure of British troop movements back in 1775 that led to the birth of our nation.
Bleh. How dumb is this? As if spying on an enemy army and giving that information to your side's forces is a "leak." Do these people have any understanding of logical reasoning at all? Or is it all fair when the need is to give a patriotic patina to breaking the law? If we're going to close our eyes to such behavior then the message will go out to all our intelligence agents that they too can be a modern Paul Revere and get John Kerry's praise if they leak to secret information.

As John Hinderaker says over at Powerline, "Don't You Know There's a War On?". He links to this post by Andy McCarthy (no relation) putting Mary McCarthy's leaks in the contexts of all the leaks that have been coming out of the CIA all during Bush's presidency.
But the broader context here is an intelligence community that was, quite brazenly, leaking in a manner designed to topple a sitting president. A big question here -- maybe not for purposes of guilt under the espionage act, but for the more important policy issue of a politicized CIA -- is whether she was part of a campaign that was grossly inappropriate for the intelligence community to engage in.

Remember Michael Scheuer, aka “Anonymous.” It is simply dumbfounding that, as an intelligence officer heading up the bin Laden team (i.e., the unit targeting the number one, active national security problem facing the country) he was permitted by the CIA to write books about what he was doing. He has indicated, though, that it was fine with the agency as long as he was slamming the Bush administration.

Valerie Plame Wilson thought the whole Bush administration notion that Saddam was trying to arm up with nukes was crazy. She maneuvered to have, not an objective analyst, but her husband – with no WMD expertise but an enemy of the president’s policy – sent to Niger, whence he returned and wrote a highly partisan, misleading and damaging op-ed in the NYTimes about the Bush administration’s case for toppling Saddam … which op-ed he was permitted by the self-same CIA to write notwithstanding that his trip was (and should have been) classified.
If Porter Goss can clear out these vipers, he will be doing the country a big benefit. No administration, Republican or Democrat, wants a leaky intelligence agency. If we just shrug away McCarthy's leaks the message will be clear: leak away if you personally think something should be known publicly. The Democrats better watch out for what precedents they're setting. After all, they aspire to be in the White House on Inauguration Day, 2009. Would a future Democratic president look with favor on retired generals criticizing a President Hillary Clinton's actions or CIA agents leaking anti-Clinton stories to the Wall Street Journal or Washington Times? I'm sure they have no interest in reaping what they sow, but they may have no choice.