Let’s put Valerie Plame in charge of the CIA’s secret Al Qaeda prisons. That way, when someone leaks the secret, the media will have to pretend to care about secrecy again, instead of splashing the story across the front page, complete with private spy satellite photos of one prison’s layout.
Last week, the mainstream media wanted to have Karl Rove and Scooter Libby hanged without trial because of their tangential roles in “outing” Ms. Plame, who was deep undercover on the Washington, D.C. cocktail circuit and voluntarily using her administrative position at the CIA to interject her covert opinions into the national debate.
This week, they are indignantly “exposing” an actual secret operation of the CIA — covert detention facilities in foreign countries at which the most dangerous Al Qaeda suspects are being held and questioned by agents at least as brave and worthy as the jet-setting Ms. Plame.
This may seem like hypocrisy to the casual observer, but that is simply because such an observer doesn’t realize the true role of the CIA: collecting and manufacturing information that could help damage George W. Bush. This is why Valerie Plame is such a martyr/hero/role model/made-for-TV-movie-waiting-to-happen. She used her covert position at the CIA to secretly orchestrate a publicity stunt by her Democrat husband that was designed to sway public opinion against Bush.
The only way such a noble plot could possibly have failed was if some pesky whistleblower in the government leaked to the media that Plame’s husband, Clinton-appointed Ambassador to Gabon Joe Wilson, had been sent on his anti-Bush “fact finding trip” by his wife, not by an uninvolved and unbiased intelligence operative or the real elected government of the United States, as he claimed.
Tragically, Plame’s attempt to abuse her CIA position to influence the outcome of the next Presidential election failed for exactly this reason, leading to the greatest national security scandal of all time: “Scootergate.” It is a sad day for America when a CIA agent cannot even get her hack husband on national TV to undermine the President without it blowing her covert status, of which she was obviously very protective.
Compare this “leak” tragedy to the covert prison “expos√?∆? ¬©.” In the prison story, rogue agents of the CIA have apparently been diverting resources from the high-priority battle against George Bush to conduct some sort of private war against someone named “Osama bin Laden,” who isn’t even a Republican.
Clearly, that is the sort of scandal that deserves to be exposed, especially when one considers that the operation had not even been cleared by Amnesty International or MoveOn.org.
Now, a jingoistic fascist could argue that such interrogation facilities were being kept secret for a reason, and that exposing them compromised both their mission and their physical security. But that is just the sort of madman that thinks that terrorists at Guantanamo should be denied cable TV or who fails to realize that all news and events must be judged by one simple standard: does it hurt George W. Bush?
Viewed through that lens, everything makes sense. Exposing secret operation to manipulate American public opinion — BAD. Exposing secret operation to protect democracy from mass murdering fanatics — GOOD.
You see? No hypocrisy at all. Both operations are being held to one consistent standard. In their war against President Bush, the mainstream media are willing to accept casualties. If they have to hand propaganda victories, prison plans, or classified intelligence operations to Al Qaeda so that they can bring down President Bush, then that’s a sacrifice they are willing to make.
And what about the unknown government official that leaked the CIA prison story? Why, he’s the biggest hero since Deep Throat, or Patrick Fitzgerald. Because leaking to the media is good, or bad. And it deserves to be prosecuted, or not.