Throwing National Security Under the Bus

It’s as if the whole Valerie Plame matter never happened.

ABC News is blowing their ‘EXCLUSIVE’ horn again in an ongoing investigation to ‘out’ a handful of secret CIA prisons where alleged “enhanced interrogation techniques” are authorized for use by 14 CIA officers. Officially, the CIA has declined to comment on the existence of these prisons, let alone the intensity of interrogation tactics used at any such facility. President Bush has said plainly that the U.S. does not use torture as a means of extracting information from captured terrorists. But…

ABC News has access to information which they believe will prove otherwise. And how does ABC News assume any confidence in their investigation?

Current and former CIA officers are leaking information, confidentially of course.

Given what happened with Valerie Plame, why would any current or former CIA official want to slip information to a major news media organization? I believe there are two reasons.

Reason #1 – ABC News has been chasing this ambulance ever since CBS broke the news about Abu Ghraib. The logic is this. If there’s one prison where torture and humiliation tactics are used to interrogate prisoners, there has to be more. Incorporating their own AVIS slogan, ABC News is pushing a “WE TRY HARDER” methodology in this investigation. They aren’t satisfied with tips from soldiers, or seeking out a random CD-ROM containing damning photos. No, they are heading right to the agency who would know – the CIA, and when they won’t talk, ABC News will move on current and former CIA agents, promising anonymity in exchange for the real dirt.

In short, CBS got theirs and ABC News wants one too.

Reason #2 – The breakdown of loyalty inside the CIA family. I believe a serious rift within the agency occurred just before George Tenet resigned, and wounds remained open through the leadership of interim director John McLaughlin right through to today’s direction from Porter Goss. As such, it has become easier for news organizations to gain information from current and former agents/officials who have yet to remove the chip from their shoulder. Agents use to guard their identities with their life, and that protection extended to other agents and to the secrets held by the agency as a whole. But, in the last few years we’ve seen a shift from blanket loyalty to a ‘watch your own back’ protectionism. Today, identities are only as good as the confidentiality covenant between a reporter and their source. Ask Bob Novak how rock solid that guarantee is. Even still, agent to agency loyalty has been tossed under the bus in favor of retribution, power struggles, and political gain.

In short, a call to a CIA official from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, WaPo, NYT, MSNBC (ad infinitum), is a call to take, even if risks exist.

The Plame Affair cracked the informant door open wide enough that it now swings freely, and news organizations like ABC are willing to take advantage of the sieve if it means a win in the race for ratings, and the all important ad revenues. Meanwhile, CIA officials with an ax to grind are whispering into cell phones and conducting meetings over coffee at an undisclosed Starbucks.

So, what’s the problem? After all, it’s only the secrets of the CIA, and ultimately the national security of the United States that is in serious jeopardy. For some, the risks are worth the temporary gain.

Related: AP Poll – Most Say Torture OK in Rare Cases | Condi: U.S. does not condone torture |

Comments

  1. ABCNews needs to explain what led these CIA officers to turn traitor.

  2. Juice for Jesus says:

    So you’re saying the CIA leaked Valerie Plame’s identity? Indeed, I don’t get it.

  3. Current and former CIA employees and others in government who work with classified information have all signed non-dsclosure agreements that have teeth. I wish to God the government would start tracking these leakers down and put a few of them behind bars for the rest of their lives. This particular disclosure is going to end up costing American lives and that merits a charge of treason to me.

  4. I think one needs to distinguish between “blowing an operation” leaks seeking to destroy, and “defensive” leaks seeking to clarify, set the record straight, and (thereby) defend an operation–the ABC News-reported CIA leaks seem to be the latter.

    Maybe just as wrong, and just as illegal–but a very different intention, not obviously anti-W, anti-admin, anti-agency, or anti-Ameerican.

    They still shouldn’t happen, though.

  5. No, he’s suggesting that the supposedly secret mission by Plame’s husband to Niger was an example of sloppy tradecraft at best, and an attempt to politically damage the President at worst. Plame’s husband signed no confidentiality agreement before going on the mission, and neither he nor his wife was warned by the CIA that his continued interviews about his trip to the media would endanger her “covert” status. Since he had no background in either WMDs or in Niger, it would be logical to ask why the CIA picked him to go, questions which would lead to his WMD-expert wife, who had a CIA-employee sticker on her car.

    After she was “outed”, you would think that the CIA would tighten up on their covert operations to prevent future disclosures, but it appears they did not. In fact, I read elsewhere that they do not plan on even starting a damage-assessment on the Plame leak until after the special prosecutor is done with his investigation, which could take years…

  6. Khaled el-Masri Victim? Not so fast…

    Media today is reporting that the ACLU is taking up the case of suspected terrorist Khaled el-Masri, who states he was ‘kidnapped and tortured ” by the CIA. Of course this story isn’t newa as it broke over the summer, but since the MSM is all hot wit…

  7. CIA sources blab – again (PM UPDATE)

    Now just when will those who are supposedly ‘concerned’ about our national security (the Plamegate pushers) call for an investigation into this?
    Dec. 5, 2005 — Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month whe…

  8. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. That ABC shouldn’t pursue a story about the CIA using illegal interrogation tactics that the President has explicitly said we don’t use? That CIA officers who have knowledge of such activities should keep quiet about it? That the outing of a covert CIA agent by White House officials has something to do with either of these questions?

  9. John Steele says:

    So where in the world is Porter Goss while all this leaking is going on? I guess it’s a good thing he’s there and not be ’cause if it was me there would be CIA ‘officers’ hanging from every tree at Langley until the leaks stopped.

  10. Since he had no background in either WMDs or in Niger, it would be logical to ask why the CIA picked him to go, questions which would lead to his WMD-expert wife, who had a CIA-employee sticker on her car.

    So what you’re saying is that because Joe Wilson talking about his mission might lead to questions about why he was sent there, Libby and Rove decided to save those poor reporters the trouble of asking any questions and decided to out his wife? Makes sense.

  11. Ryan Waxx says:

    Dave, let me spell this out for you simply:

    Leaking the identities of covert operatives and leaking the existance of covert operations are either both good, or they are both bad. You don’t get to pick and choose between them based on which political party it harms.

    So the charge is that people who ARE doing that cherry-picking, are hypocrites.

    Simple enough?

  12. You have to look at this from a left-wing perspective.

    Valerie Plame’s name was leaked. She’s a government employee; she’s like a union member. Her individual career may have been damaged, so that has to be all wrong.

    With this new leak on the other hand, national security may have been compromised (leftists don’t give a s**t about that; to them other nations are basically friendly anyway, if they were properly understood) but no individual’s name was given out (so it’s OK, just politics as usual, no inconsistency here at all).

    See how clear it becomes when you just adopt the required perspective?

  13. Wait – I thought that leaking Plame’s name was so bad, so harmful to national security, that even the MSM recipients of the leak demanded an investigation into the identity of the leaker(s)?

    Now it seems any leak is ok. I wonder what changed?

  14. It is time for the Bush Administration to declare war on the second front of terrorism… The CIA…. Make America proud and get rid of this lot.

    The CIA has been playing this game with the Bush Administration since 9/11. It is time for the Admninistration and the leaders of Congress to rip the guts out of the CIA, and if needed, redesign it from the ground up.

    The CIA have BLOWN the intelligence process and their facts for the last 15 years. They missed the preparations for 9/11. They got the WMD wrong. They have been running prisons under the radar. It is time to castrate these clowns. They are nothing but a bunch of James Bond wanna be’s.

    Any CIA leakers found during the process should be treated like the felons they are.

    If leaking the name of a NON-covert desk jockey was a sin, this garbage is the end of the world.

  15. ronald Norman says:

    Time to close the CIA down and send the leakers to prison along with the enablers in the MSN. We can’t afford to lose this war, these are religious murderers who won’t stop at anything. Enough of the rats at the CIA, arrest, adjudicate and then incarcerate.

  16. Leaking the identities of covert operatives and leaking the existance of covert operations are either both good, or they are both bad. You don’t get to pick and choose between them based on which political party it harms.

    So the charge is that people who ARE doing that cherry-picking, are hypocrites.

    First off, I think you’re going to need to be a little clearer. Who are you actually accusing of so-called cherry picking or hypocrisy?

    Now let me spell this out for you, Ryan Waxx – not everyone views everything in a partisan light like you do. This isn’t about whether one action helps the Republicans and the other doesn’t.

    This is about the law, and it’s about right and wrong. If the government is doing things that are wrong and against the law – which would be the case if we were holding people in secret prisons *or* torturing them – then I want reporters to pursue the story and I want people in the government to leak that information. That is fundamentally different from leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative in order to discredit her husband for political purposes. You can call that cherry picking, but it’s quite simply not. Some leaks are different from others, and recognizing that fact isn’t hypocrisy.

    I suppose if the Justice Department wants to prosecute CIA leakers for breaking the law by disclosing information about illegal, immoral government operations, well they’re welcome to do it but I think *that* would be the truly partisan action, and not the leaks themselves. I hope that if I were in the position of knowing about illegal, immoral government activities, that I’d have the courage to expose it even if it meant facing prosecution/imprisonment.

  17. The story reads like an an administration plant.

    “prisoners were sometimes given hard candies, desserts and chocolates. Abu Zubaydah was partial to Kit Kats, the same treat Saddam Hussein fancied in his captivity.”

    The prisoners get excellent food and candy of their choice.

    “handcuffed and strapped feet up to a water board until after 0.31 seconds he begged for mercy and began to cooperate.”

    Torture is mercifully short.

    “life-threatening wounds were tended to by a CIA doctor specially sent from Langley headquarters to assure Abu Zubaydah was given proper care”

    Doctors sent from halfway around the world.

    “he started to cry and became as cooperative as if he had been tied down to a water board, sources said”

    They are such babies compared to their manly, humane interrogators, we only torture them when they force us.

  18. Dave, Why are you assuming there is illegal or immoral activities going on in these prisons. They mentioned the most agressive techniques ALLOWED, which is well short of what the woman that testified happened to her in Sadam’s prison.

    If the cooperating country will allow us to hold the prisoners there, albeit discreetly, then why do you hav a right to know that.

    Dave, they did mention that these were some of the most highly placed Al-Qaeda terrorists captured during there quest to kill YOU and ME simply because of who we are.

    Why do we never here outrage over the beheadings, the bombings of other muslims – not of the same sect. You would do well to remember we did not start this fight, and we are not the terrorists.

  19. After the “Plame outing”, a responsible security office at the CIA should have taken steps to prevent future disclosures of covert operations. That is standard procedure anytime that claasified information is disclosed, either intentionally or not. They apparently did not do so. Indeed, the CIA’s actions to date give the impression that nothing has happened to require a change in how they operate.

    Now, regarding your comments about Libby and Rove: Libby has not been charged with leaking Plame’s identity – he has been charged with giving a different account under oath of a meeting with a reporter than the reporter did. That could be explained by differing memories, but even if he is convicted, it will NOT be for “outing” Plame. As for Rove, no evidence has surfaced so far to implicate him. He signed a wavier releasing all reporters from confidentially on this matter, yet none report learning of Plame from him. Unless you think all the reporters are lying about Rove…

  20. “Dave, Why are you assuming there is illegal or immoral activities going on in these prisons.”

    I’m not assuming that’s true, but if it is going on, then I think people leaking it are doing the right thing. I can think this even though I think leaking Valerie Plame’s name was wrong, and I can do so without being inconsistent.

    But to be clear, I think holding prisoners of war in secret prisons is illegal and immoral by itself. Furthermore, if those prisoners are being tortured – and water boarding is torture – then that is illegal and immoral.

    Also, “These same sources also tell ABC News that U.S. intelligence also ships some ‘unlawful combatants’ to countries that use interrogation techniques harsher than any authorized for use by U.S. intelligence officers. They say that Jordan, Syria, Morocco and Egypt were among the nations used in order to extract confessions quickly using techniques harsher than those authorized for use by U.S. intelligence officers. These prisoners were not necessarily citizens of those nations.”

    I consider that immoral and illegal, too.

    Frankly, when the Secretary of State says “The captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice, which were designed for different needs. We have had to adapt,” I tend to get a little worried, since I thought it was Congress’ job to adapt the laws of the country. Now, maybe they’re adapting beyond the traditional systems of criminal and military justice in a completely legal way, but I think it’s unlikely. I’m glad some reporters are doing their jobs by looking into this issue.

  21. Here’s a few possibilities.

    1. The leakers are lying
    1a. They’re lying on orders in the interests of national security and thus there will be no prosecutions.
    1b. They’re lying to embarrass the MSM.

    2. The leakers are telling the truth, as they see it.
    2a. The leakers are actually blowing an op to expressly harm national security (ie they are traitors)
    2a1. The information they have is actually true and they should fry.
    2a2. The information they have is actually false and planted by other intelligence professionals to uncover leakers. They should still fry but things get a lot more complicated.
    2b. The leakers believe that “a greater good” justifies the leaks in order to straighten out policy. This will not help them at sentencing.

    We’re in spook land people. You folks are considering way too few options.

  22. “They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. At first I just screamed … I was just shocked, I wasn’t expecting … Then they cut my left chest. This time I didn’t want to scream because I knew it was coming.

    One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. “I told you I was going to teach you who’s the man,” [one] eventually said.

    They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists. I asked for a doctor.

    Doctor No 1 carried a briefcase. “You’re all right, aren’t you? But I’m going to say a prayer for you.” Doctor No 2 gave me an Alka-Seltzer for the pain. I told him about my penis. “I need to see it. How did this happen?” I told him. He looked like it was just another patient. “Put this cream on it two times a day. Morning and night.” He gave me some kind of antibiotic.

    I was in Morocco for 18 months. Once they began this, they would do it to me about once a month. One time I asked a guard: “What’s the point of this? I’ve got nothing I can say to them. I’ve told them everything I possibly could.”

    “As far as I know, it’s just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you’ll have these scars and you’ll never forget. So you’ll always fear doing anything but what the US wants.””

    __________________________________________________

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,13743,1540750,00.html

    Yep, just harmless fraternity pranks. God forbid we leak information about torture camps where innocent people may be tortured.

  23. I’m sure the Guardian followed up that story very carefully…LOL.

    If you read the article, it’s obvious that water boarding is the ticket, not small cuts (ooooooh.)

    I suspect this is a counter leak….the idea of secret prisons made me imagine thousands of prisoners…now we find out it’s 12 people and they are all BAD BAD GUYS and not low level taxi drivers. We also find out only 14 staff can do torture-lite…which means they can’t exactly be torturing everyone everywhere.

  24. AJB; Islamofascist terrorists commit suicide bombings on innocent women and children of their own country; they subscribe to documented/videotaped tortures and executions of their political opposition; they fly jet-fuel laden aircraft into civilian office buildings; their deepest ambitions are to commit more of these crimes in the interest of spreading their idealogy; they are sufficiently without conscience to do these things. Would it surprise you that they would be liars as well?

  25. Biggest mistake of the Bush Presidency: holding over George Tenet from the Clinton administration.

    The CIA is at the nexus of most problems facing the Bush administration: 9/11, Iraq intelligence, torture allegations, the Plame affair, and the CIA secret prisons.

    We needed Porter Goss in there cleaning house back in 2001, not 2004.

  26. Merry Whitney says:

    I find it hard to believe that anyone actually believes leaking to the media is the responsible, let alone only or best, way to ‘right a wrong’ — if there were a wrong.

    If someone with knowledge of “immoral” or “reprehensible” conduct within government has a legitimate crisis of conscience and just has to do something… why, of 535 elected reps in Congress (although I can see a bit of trepidation with the 535), and countless high and powerful officials in all three branches of government — I suppose NOT ONE can be found with as much integrity and moral courage as ABC – CBS — NBC, et. al.?

    Not one person in a position to address or resolve a situation, could be trusted with the information — but the media can?

    Leaks like these are not about “righting a moral wrong,” they’re about power, revenge and, in all probability, greed.

  27. Dave: If you’re so concerned about the law, read it; it’s perfectly straightforward and makes it clear that Plame’s “outing” was not illegal, which is why Libby was not indicted for breaking it.

  28. Never happened?

    Five roadside bombs in Spain the day she announed reitrement. These were the coup in Spain. They are making sure their friend is taken care of. Wilson’s history is Spanish. Its in his book.

    Now, they are selling the confusion between Italy and Spain. The Spanish operations officers in Iraq Plame outed with her ‘Vanity Fair’ article were allowed to confuse this with the Italian operations officer in Iraq, who was outed possibly as ‘forgiveness’ for the “Vanity Fair” article.

    These are all people Plame and Wilson worked with In Iraq. The five bombs possibly mean the five year informant law was her mistake, but, all persons being equal, thats okay.

    Merry Christmas and no hard feelings.

  29. Dave: If you’re so concerned about the law, read it; it’s perfectly straightforward and makes it clear that Plame’s “outing” was not illegal, which is why Libby was not indicted for breaking it.

    The grand jury is still investigating so it’s certainly premature to say that nobody broke the law in this case. But Fitzgerald was rather explicit that because of Libby’s obstruction of justice, it’s not yet possible for the grand jury to come to a conclusion about the underlying crime.

    Fitzgerald was actually pretty clear, too, concerning the seriousness of outing Plame:

    “Before I talk about those charges and what the indictment alleges, I’d like to put the investigation into a little context.

    Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

    Valerie Wilson’s friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

    The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It’s important that a CIA officer’s identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation’s security. ”

    You might consider the following question, though: If the law is so straightforward and Libby did not break it, then why did he lie to the grand jury?

  30. “I find it hard to believe that anyone actually believes leaking to the media is the responsible, let alone only or best, way to ‘right a wrong’ — if there were a wrong.”

    And I find it hard to believe that senior administration officials believe, and many Republicans seem to agree with them, that leaking a CIA agent’s name to the press is the responsible way to discredit her husband.

    Anyway, I don’t think there’s only one responsible way to go about addressing an issue of conscience like this. I can certainly imagine scenarios where going to the press is one of the right ways to handle things. Really, none of us has any idea whether the leakers tried to go through other channels to address their concerns before leaking the info to the media.

  31. Dave, You’re hopeless. You can quote Patrick Fitzgerald, and yet you completely ignore the remarks of the woman who wrote the law, who said the entire investigation is a sham. The good thing is Mr. Fitzgerald has been able to extend it long enough to carry him through the holidays so he can get his kid the GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip.

    Tighten up those blinders, and take another sip of cool-aid, because the administration has just begun to push back. It could get ugly for those living the dream.

  32. Kevin, could you please quote where I said that a law was definitely broken in the Valerie Plame case? All I have said is that the grand jury is still investigating and their investigation is secret, so it’s premature to say that no law was broken. Also, Libby’s (and possibly others’) obstruction of justice might make it impossible to really know whether a crime was committed.

    But I think whether a crime was committed is only part of the question, which is why I quoted Fitzgerald about the seriousness of the matter. If senior administration officials jeopardized national security to discredit or settle a score against a political opponent, then I care about that regardless of what the law says.

    But nobody’s answered my original question. Why do you think Libby lied to the grand jury if he did nothing wrong?

  33. P.S. it’s Kool-Aid with a “K”.

  34. Please quote me where I said, that you said that a law was broken. Dave, you jump to a lot of conclusions. I just think it is interesting that Libs can quote Patrick Fitzgerald, (and ignore the nepotism related to his selection) and completely ignore the numerous comments made by Victoria Toensing who effectively wrote the law regarding outing of CIA agents. She said the investigation was a sham from the beginning and it was painfully obvious that Valerie Plame was not “Covert” under the law.

    Not to mention the myriad of other people who have come forward and said that Joe Wilson bragged to them about his wife the CIA agent well before is own article. (which I am sure did not help her remain non-descript).

    The more important questions are 1. Why send him if he isn’t a CIA agent? 2. Why is he the only guy working for the CIA without a nondisclosure agreement? 3. Why was he able to submit the article without the CIA sitting on it for months like they do everyone else’s writings about CIA activities? 4. Why wasn’t he required to submit a written report of his trip (other than it allowed him to present a different story in his OP-Ed than he gave to the CIA. and finally, 5. Why with his numerous story adjustments, corrections, and outright untruths, was he and his wife not required to testify under oath to the grand jury.

    Take a second look at Mr.Fitzgeralds comments. It sounded to me like Libby said “I think I heard it from Tim Russert”, and he was indicted because Mr Fitzgerald said that Mr. Russert said “nuh uh”. So technically he is indicted for disagreeing with Tim Russert.

  35. Kevin, you called me “hopeless” and that I should listen to the woman who wrote the law. The implication is that I am only concerned with the law, when my concerns are as much about national security and the administration’s commitment to the war on terror vs. politics.

    “Take a second look at Mr.Fitzgeralds comments. It sounded to me like Libby said “I think I heard it from Tim Russert”, and he was indicted because Mr Fitzgerald said that Mr. Russert said “nuh uh”. So technically he is indicted for disagreeing with Tim Russert.”

    Why don’t *you* take a second look at it? There are several discrepancies in his story, among them: (1) He claimed Russert told him Plame was a CIA agent, when Russert claims they never discussed her. (2) He claimed that when Russert told him this information, he was learning it as if for the first time, even though he had at least 7 previous conversations about it prior to that conversation. (3) He claimed that he told Miller and Cooper the information on July 12, when he actually discussed it with them several times prior to that. (4) He claimed that he told them he was unsure about the information, that it was just gossip he got from other journalists, even though he did not include those disclaimers when he actually spoke to them.

    So, sorry, it’s not simply a case of he said-she said between Libby and Russert.

    “The more important questions are 1. Why send him if he isn’t a CIA agent? 2. Why is he the only guy working for the CIA without a nondisclosure agreement? 3. Why was he able to submit the article without the CIA sitting on it for months like they do everyone else’s writings about CIA activities? 4. Why wasn’t he required to submit a written report of his trip (other than it allowed him to present a different story in his OP-Ed than he gave to the CIA. and finally, 5. Why with his numerous story adjustments, corrections, and outright untruths, was he and his wife not required to testify under oath to the grand jury.”

    I don’t know the answers to those questions. Why was Wilson sent? Well he had a lot of experience working in Iraq and dealing with Africa policy, so maybe that was the reason. He was investigating the purchase of uranium–maybe you don’t really need to be a WMD expert to do that. I suppose some of those questions are interesting but only mildly so.

    I never understood how the Wilson story became so big or why the White House was so worried about him before Plamegate happened. However, nothing that Joe Wilson did is relevant to whether senior administration officials improperly disclosed his wife’s identity.

  36. Merry Whitney says:

    Kevin, I think I agree with everything you’ve said throughout, except for the Fitzgerald “nepotism” thing. He was recommended by Peter Fitzgerald, former Republican Senator from Illinois, but there is no relationship other than apparent Irish descendency.

    However, it’s probably not unlikely that Peter Fitz — a staunch conservative who suffered career blocking and myriad political difficulties at the behest of former Illinois Governor George Ryan (also Republican) — may have “rewarded” Patrick Fitz for the ongoing prosecution of Ryan; “enemy of my enemy…” sort of thing, without due deliberation or regard to whether Patrick Fitz might be motivated as much, or more, by political considerations as/than a sense of justice.

    Patrick Fitz was widely heralded by Chicago-area media as a ‘non-political’ super-hero in pursuit of “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

    Peter Fitz probably even believed it — especially easy to believe when the handcuffs and orange jumpsuit were being rattled at his own nemesis.

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