Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Web of Leaks

So what do we call McCarthy and other thus far unidentified leakers involved in the release of classified information that undermines US national security (secret prisons and the NSA information gathering programs)? Moles? The leakers have their defenders - and using the media to try a wee bit of equivalence failing to note the difference between a legal but questionable release of information for the purpose of refuting a partisan hack with an unauthorized and hence illegal release of information that damages national security and undermines the ability to defend this country from terrorist threats. ABC is in the act of whitewashing McCarthy's actions. And the idiotic excuses continue to roll in.

Porter Goss has made it a priority to clean up the CIA and eliminate leaks of classified information. That's what a good director is supposed to do. So, predictably it has meant hard feelings for those who don't like the fact that the agency is investigating its own to clean house.

Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director, has for three months carried out one of the most intensive leak investigations in the agency's history, using polygraph tests to determine who at the agency may be behind what Mr. Goss says is an explosion of damaging leaks to the news media.

According to C.I.A. officials, staff members have been summoned by the agency's Security Center to undergo polygraph tests in an effort to find out who revealed to reporters information about classified programs, including the agency's secret overseas detention jails for high-level Qaeda detainees.

It is uncommon for C.I.A. directors to make leak crackdowns a priority of their tenure. Mr. Goss's use of "single issue" polygraphs in a leak investigation — which led to the firing on Thursday of the C.I.A. officer, Mary O. McCarthy — is a sign of how serious he is about enforcing discipline in the agency's ranks.

When Mr. Goss took the helm at the C.I.A. in September 2004, he inherited an agency that was widely viewed in Washington as being at war with the Bush administration.

Mr. Goss, a longtime Republican congressman, was mulling retirement when President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney pressed him to take the C.I.A. job, in part to rein in what they viewed as a coordinated campaign of leaks to the news media from C.I.A. insiders hostile to the administration.

But some believe that the problem has grown under Mr. Goss's leadership, and many see Ms. McCarthy's firing as an effort by Mr. Goss to send a message to the agency's rank and file.
Well, that widely held view was apparently accurate as the information is being played out. McCarthy's links to highly partisan figures and her political leanings make for a delicious situation. The folks who are complaining most about the leaks are those who have the most to lose from eliminating leaks and going after those who are committing criminal acts by the unauthorized leaks of classified information. And that means the media doesn't like this crackdown.

They lose their scoops. They lose the freewheeling information sharing that they rely upon for the investigative pieces that garner some Pulitzer Prizes. And they have to let their sources know to lie low because Porter Goss and the molehunters are looking for them too.

AJ Strata notes that the WaPo article doesn't address the fact that these leaks violate their terms of employment, and violate federal law. Yet, the WaPo does note that the majority of agents spoken to believe that the action taken against McCarthy was appropriate. That shouldn't be much of a surprise given that most folks do take their jobs seriously. Well, AJ thinks that the media is in for a rude awakening because so many CIA agents take their jobs, and their oaths seriously.

MacRanger continues to plug the vast left wing conspiracy. Well, a lot of the folks he mentioned should be sweating because of the ongoing investigations. They may lose their choice sources for information, or worse. Prarie Pundit also notes Goss' housecleaning. Rick Moran notes that this may be less than a conspiracy, and more akin to an ongoing discussion between like minded individuals.
Mary McCarthy is part of a very exclusive community of like minded Democrats numbering at most 200 experts in national security and foreign affairs who staffed the Clinton Administration’s Departments of Defense and State (and the much more exclusive National Security Council). These were the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries that flesh out any administration and get their jobs thanks to both their political connections and their experience in foreign and military policy.

This experience comes from a variety of places including our intelligence agencies, military staff jobs, foreign service postings, think tanks, and Capitol Hill staff positions. They provide an invaluable service to the party by constantly developing policy prescriptions and position papers that bubble and froth by being debated and shaped at conferences and forums until a consensus of sorts is reached.

In McCarthy’s case, she was running with an exclusive club indeed if Sandy Berger and Rand Beers were her patrons at the NSC. But that alone doesn’t prove that her actions in leaking were part of conspiracy nor does it make it probable that those worthies mentioned above even knew she would violate her oath of secrecy so brazenly. Her contacts with Berger and Beers were probably confined to seeing them at the numerous conferences and scholarly forums where the rest of the Democratic contribution to the military industrial complex meet.

The Republicans, of course, have a similar group albeit much larger but perhaps more disciplined. Where the Democrats have a half dozen major think tanks with another dozen or so small but influential policy groups, the Republicans have a remarkable network of scholars, ex-military, ex-intelligence and foreign service as well as former bureaucrats who work through long established think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
The Belmont Club has lots more.

UPDATE:
Confederate Yankee rebuts Juan Cole's argument that the Administration is selectively prosecuting leakers. And CY does so with the full force and effect of existing law, which Cole conveniently avoids.

The Political Pit Bull has the video and Drudge has the following reaction from Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), former Presidential candidate in 2004. I think Kerry's refreshingly honest - he knows the value of such leaks for the cause of Democrats, but has to say that it should be prosecuted.
KERRY: ... Of course not. Of course, not. A CIA agent has the obligation to uphold the law and clearly leaking is against the law, and nobody should leak. I don't like leaking. But if you're leaking to tell the truth, Americans are going to look at that, at least mitigate or think about what are the consequences that you, you know, put on that person. Obviously they're not going to keep their job, but there are other larger issues here. You know, classification in Washington is a tool that is used to hide the truth from the American people. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was eloquent and forceful in always talking about how we needed to, you know, end this endless declassification that takes place in this city, and it has become a tool to hide the truth from Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: These --

SEN. KERRY: So I'm glad she told the truth but she's going to obviously -- if she did it, if she did it, suffer the consequences of breaking the law.
The truth is that Kerry and Democrats need information leaked to try and gain political advantage, regardless of the actual damage to US national security. National security is a distant thought for these prominent Democrats when undermining the Bush Administration.

And here's a further quandry for Kerry. Based on what we know thus far, it appears that the whole story of secret prisons in Europe is untrue. Several investigations have concluded that the prisons don't exist. The story may have been designed to ferret out those who leak classified information, and this particular story was too tantalizing for the leakers to pass up. It hit all the right notes for the leakers and the journalists who crave this kind of information. It would embarrass the Administration, undermine the war effort, and provide political advantage to Democrats going into an election year. And that means that we have actually uncovered the truth - that there are partisan hacks who are purposefully leaking information to undermine a sitting Administration.

Transterrestial Musings can't help but wonder why this news broke on Friday afternoon.


 


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