CIA leaks and the press; Iraqi compromise
I don't often do roundups and links. But lately, there have been so many important stories that I haven't had time to cover--and that others have covered so very thoroughly--that I thought I'd handle them this way rather than ignore them.
The story of CIA officer and political partisan Mary McCarthy leaking intensely sensitive information about the possible existence of secret CIA detention centers in central Europe is one of these stories. Recommended posts on the subject (some of which contain links to still other posts on the subject) are the following: Dr. Sanity opines on the story's relation to "truth," Alexandra at All Things Beautiful offers her take on White House efforts to stop such leaks and distortions, Richard Fernandez of Belmont Club gives his usual deep perspective on intelligence leaks and the press, Gerard Van der Leun at American Digest offers a compendium of quotes on the sad state of journalism today, Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom sees a possibility for the press to redeem itself depending on how it covers this story, and Ace muses on the motivations of the CIA leaker in question.
It's all been said, and I hardly need to add a word. But I can't resist adding a few anyway.
For me, this story brings another "remembrance of things past." In particular, it calls to mind the fact that, ever since Nixon's pernicious Watergate efforts (the formation of the "plumbers" was at least partly a misguided and illegal effort to stop leaks such as the Pentagon Papers), the press has considered the possibility of overreaching and illegal activities by the executive branch to be more of a threat than any security considerations attendant in leaking secrets.
The current case is merely another example of this. And now the press has also become so arrogant that it apparently feels there is no requirement to make absolutely certain that the security leaks it publishes are the truth (see this and this for evidence of the lack of evidence that the detention centers constituting the subject matter of the leak even existed in the first place).
In this post of mine, I discussed the turning point that Vietnam and Watergate represented in this respect. The present-day tag-team phenomenon of CIA-leaking plus press publication of those leaks--with both players of the sport showing an almost casual disregard of the possible national security consequences--is an extension and expansion of a process that began then:
The left, and many liberals, seem to feel that the raising of security issues in these situations is almost always bogus--a sort of screen, used by a proto-totalitarian government to cover its own misuse of power.
A second important news story of the day is the promising compromise reached in Iraq. Here's the AP article on the subject:
Iraq's president designated Shiite politician Jawad al-Maliki to form a new government Saturday, starting a process aimed at healing ethnic and religious wounds and pulling the nation out of insurgency and sectarian strife.
That just might be the most positive AP lede about Iraq since the day of the purple fingers.
Parliament elected President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, to a second term and gave the post of parliament speaker to Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab. Al-Mashhadani's two deputies were to be Khalid al-Attiyah, a Shiite, and Aref Tayfour, a Kurd.
The tough-talking al-Maliki was nominated by the Shiites on Friday after outgoing Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari gave up his bid for another term. Al-Jaafari's attempt to stay in office was adamantly opposed by Sunnis and Kurds, causing a monthslong deadlock while the country's security crisis worsened in the wake of December's election.
U.S. and Iraqi officials hope that a national unity government representing Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds will be able to quell both the Sunni-led insurgency and bloody Shiite-Sunni violence that has raged during the political uncertainty. If it succeeds, it could enable the U.S. to begin withdrawing its 133,000 troops.
A consummation devoutly to be wished. We shall see whether or not it comes to pass.
Iraq the Model has a play-by-play account, Gateway Pundit has this roundup (and I agree that Sistani seems to be looking good), and Powerline comments on the length of time it took to get to this point.