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 |