April 24, 2006


Joseph Wilson's Revenge: Why no special prosecutor for the latest CIA leak case? (Christopher Hitchens, April 24, 2006, Slate)

[M]ary McCarthy has been given the sack. And the New York Times rushes to her aid, with a three-hankie story on April 23, moistly titled "Colleagues Say Fired CIA Analyst Played by the Rules." This is only strictly true if she confined her disagreement to official channels, as she did when she wrote to Clinton in 1998. Sadly enough, the same article concedes that McCarthy may have lied and then eventually told the truth about having unauthorized contact with members of the press.

Well! In that case the remedy is clear. A special counsel must be appointed forthwith, to discover whether the CIA has been manipulating the media. All civil servants and all reporters with knowledge must be urged to comply, and to produce their notes or see the inside of a jail. No effort must be spared to discover the leaker. This is, after all, the line sternly proposed by the New York Times and many other media outlets in the matter of the blessed Joseph Wilson and his martyred CIA spouse, Valerie Plame.

I have a sense that this is not the media line that will be taken in the case of McCarthy, any more than it was the line taken when James Risen and others disclosed the domestic wiretapping being conducted by the NSA. Risen's story is also the object of an investigation into unlawful disclosure. One can argue that national security is damaged by unauthorized leaks, or one can argue that democracy is enhanced by them. But one cannot argue, in the case of a man who says that his CIA wife did not send him to Niger, that the proof that his wife did send him to Niger must remain a state secret. If one concerned official can brief the press off the record, then so can another.

It has long been pretty obvious to me that the official-secrecy faction within the state machinery has received a gigantic fillip from the press witch hunt against Lewis Libby and Karl Rove. What bureaucrat could believe the luck of an editorial campaign to uncover and punish leaking? A campaign that furthermore invokes the most reactionary law against disclosure this century: the Intelligence Identities Protection Act? It was obvious from the first that the press, in taking Wilson and Plame at their own estimation, was fashioning a rod for its own back. I await the squeals that will follow when this rod is applied, which it will be again and again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2006 11:24 PM

Mr. Judd, why no review of 'McCarthy and his Enemies' by Buckley and Bozwell? Seems very timely.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 24, 2006 11:51 PM

M.O.M now has an attorney. Ty Cobb, the guy who defended Clinton fundraiser John Huang. Sounds like somebody's feeling heat.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 25, 2006 1:54 AM

If the McCarthy and Libby cases end up on tandem tracks going through the court system, it will be interesting to watch the New York Times and other outlets try to editorialize two diametically opposite positions on both leaks and leakers at the same time without twisting themselves into unimaginable rhetoical knots.

Posted by: John at April 25, 2006 10:59 AM

Prosecute them all to the full extent of the law.

Posted by: Genecis at April 25, 2006 2:16 PM