Monday, April 24, 2006

More on McCarthy and the Washington Post

This NBC News article, about the firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy for leaking to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, mentions an interesting tidbit or two.

It seems that McCarthy had flunked a polygraph test earlier when queried. This, of course (assuming the polygraph was accurate), should come as no surprise--but it's another illustration of the depth of her commitment to protecting herself rather than her oath of office. She appears to have wanted to have her cake and eat it too, and to continue at her post in the CIA while violating its most basic tenet.

Unlike McCarthy, the CIA is playing by the rules:

Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officer’s identity or assignments.

The article contains the following information about the effects of McCarthy's disclosures:

The Washington Post report caused an international uproar, and government officials have said it did significant damage to relationships between the U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.

CIA Director Porter Goss told the Senate in February that leaks to the media had damaged national security. Subsequently, Goss ordered an internal investigation on leaks involving classified security data.

Ah, but true to form, the Washington Post is unrepentant about its role in presumably undermining national security. Following the traditional lines of the MSM in such matters in these post-Watergate decades, the Post thinks we owe it a debt of gratitude (and a pass) for protecting us from what it appears to regard as the far greater threat of possible government overreach:

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said people who provide citizens the information they need to hold their government accountable should not "come to harm for that."

"The reporting that Dana did was very important accountability reporting about how the CIA and the rest of the U.S. government have been conducting the war on terror," Downie said. "Whether or not the actions of the CIA or other agencies have interfered with anyone's civil liberties is important information for Americans to know and is an important part of our jobs."

McCarthy violated an oath, but the press has taken no such oath. Therefore it uses its judgment about what to disclose and what not to disclose. Traditionally, the press has been immune from any repercussions for its disclosures, even if they violate national security. There are checks and balances on the government, but so far virtually none on the press, except its own discretion.

However, this might change. In the Post article, the Bush administration is presented as an antagonist to the press and its mission, and the one to blame for the current bad relations between the press and the administration. In addition, the press has been warned that it could be liable to prosecution for espionage. (My own guess is that the latter will never come to pass; "could be" is a far cry from "will be," and the burden of proof for espionage is probably not met in cases such as this one) :

In an effort to stem leaks, the Bush administration launched several initiatives earlier this year targeting journalists and national security employees. They include FBI probes, extensive polygraphing inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

The effort has been widely seen among members of the media, and some legal experts, as the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and has worsened the already-tense relationship between mainstream news organizations and the White House.

Note that verb "targeting." Ah, the poor MSM, once again innocent victims of a marauding executive branch out to get them!


At 2:35 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

we owe it a debt of gratitude (and a pass) for protecting us from what it appears to regard as the far greater threat of possible government overreach:

When the mass media starts fighting against eminent domain and crucifying the fake liberal judges that authorized it in the SC, then maybe, just maybe, I'll listen to the hypocrites.

There's only so many con jobs you can do at once.

The White House-press relationship is about as important as the US-UN relationship. The press, like the UN, claims hypocritically that they have a mandate from god to represent the people, and that this gives them penipotentiary power over government(s) and information. If you look at their actions instead of their words, the differences are obvious.

At 4:51 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

My question is, how does writing for a newspaper make ones opinions and judgements trump all others. Why should someone, merely by virtue of writing something in a newspaper, have the ability, superior to everyone else, to analyze and proclaim "the truth" on the issues of the day. Reporters and editors very often have no particular training in, say, foreign affairs, defense poiicy, military strategy or tactics, history, economics or anything else for that matter. So, why should their opinions, their take on any situation, be the authoritative one? It seems to me that people in general have just assumed this as a given but I don't see why it should be so at all.

At 5:09 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It has to do with the free press line. The free press uses this to convince and head pound America into following and acquiescing.

They know, but do not believe, the Constitution to be the religion of most of America. So they'll manipulate that for their own purposes.

People took it for granted, because they took it for granted that the Founding Fathers were right in calling for a free press. Honesty can be manipulated, quite easily.

At 10:06 PM, April 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Yammer, I love it when your true colors come out - your longings for fascism, the free press being a "line" rather than one of the fundamental building blocks of American democracy, your disdain for the ability of Americans, through the free market, to decide for themselves what media they will or will not support. You don't want to "save" Western Civilization because you like the freedoms it affords; you want to "defend" it because it's a fun game.

At 10:17 PM, April 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, if one were to look to that same "free market" to see what people think of our press, "Yammer" is signifigantly more accurate that you are.

But then, based on your writing, I can see why you like hypocritical hyperbole like what the press does.

At 10:23 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Yeah, so anyway, my own Mom echo's the MSM and Democrat line that McCarthy was just exposing the excesses of the radical right foreign policies, which makes her a "whistle-blower", not the partisan cretin she is.

I asked her would she say so if the political ideologies were reversed.

She couldnt answer that.

At 10:27 PM, April 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American people will hold the antique MSM to accounts and I wouldn't want to be anywhere around a press building if another attack comes soon and a lot of Americans lose their lives. The so called 'news' agencies will be as guilty as the people that launch the attack. I will be happy to participate in a lynching along with 5 million or more people. Let the janitors out of the buildings and lynch everyone else. Who's going to do anything about it? The cowardly left wing/hiding under the bed from the buggie man crowd.

At 10:32 PM, April 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, the general rule is: if you feel you need to act your conscience, then that's what you need to do. But you also need to pay the consequences of it.

But, in case anyone was really aching for some right-wing eliminationist rhetoric, Anonymous seems to have provided it for us. Nicely done! Nicely done. Nothing like relishing a good, old fashioned lynching!

At 10:44 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

"Nothing like relishing a good, old fashioned lynching!"

..which was, as I recall, an almost exclusively Democrat pastime.

At 10:49 PM, April 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, Harry - Democrats love a good lynching!

Actually, as I recall, all those Democrats in the South converted their allegience to the Republican Party with Nixon's Southern Strategy, which is why the solidly-Democratic South is now the solidly-Republican South, and why blacks now vote as a bloc for Democrats when it used to be the other way around.

Nice try! Try again!

At 11:00 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Right. Now give me the number of lynchings that have occured after that post-Nixon conversion.

At 11:09 PM, April 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Harry, you got me there! Clearly Democrats are evil racists, because people in the past who liked lynchings called themselves Democrats! I shall pay no heed to the fact that the roles, platforms, and ideologies of the two parties essentially reversed between the time of the Civil War and the Second World War. Verily, since parties are clearly monolithic, unchanging entities, as a Democrat I ascribe to my party's opposition to Alexander Hamilton's financial policies. That swindling scoundrel!

At 11:53 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

As you can see. A good example of manipulating the Constituton as if it were a religious dogma. One reason why state sponsored religion is a bad idea.

fundamental building blocks of American democracy

I have a manifold of colors. No one color fits me well.

Does Spank really know whether Anon is Anon or whether Anon is Yammer?

Or is Anon really Spank?

Very full of diverse colors.

At 12:16 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

"Actually, as I recall, all those Democrats in the South converted their allegience to the Republican Party with Nixon's Southern Strategy, which is why the solidly-Democratic South is now the solidly-Republican South, and why blacks now vote as a bloc for Democrats when it used to be the other way around."

Well, that's what Dem's tell themselves so they can sleep at night. If you lived among them, as I do, you'd know they are largely still proud yellow-dog Democrats. Can't resist the resentment-mongering, I guess.

At 12:18 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

What actually happened was that Republicans gave middle-class southerners (and rural/exurban Americans in general) something better to do than hate, and a good many took them up on the offer. Of course, it was originally MLK's idea, so you can blame him if you want.

At 12:52 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

"I shall pay no heed to the fact that the roles, platforms, and ideologies of the two parties essentially reversed between the time of the Civil War and the Second World War."

So the Republicans have re- instituted slavery? White only drinking fountains? Segregated schools? Which?

What was this "reversal" you spoke of?

At 7:58 AM, April 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Harry! You got me again! Where do you get such wonders?

I love the notion that the Southern Strategy represented some sort of reversal of Southern culture, rather than a continuation under a different name. I love it because it's so horribly wrong.

But Harry, you want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to be able to attack me because people in the past who called themselves Democrats did bad things. But when those people stopped calling themselves Democrats and started calling themselves Republicans, suddenly everything changed.

In other words, typical "everything bad is on your side, and anything bad on my side is really on your side or can be conveniently explained away" garbage.

You're right, Harry - the Republicans don't lynch! Neither do Democrats! What's your point?

You know what happens here? What happens is this:

I come along and say "I disagree with you." And everyone pounces! You're a traitor! You hate America! You're stupid and insane! Blah Blah Blah!

Someone else comes along and says "Let's murder the media for saying things we dislike."

And everyone is....totally silent....except for you, Harry. But you're not criticizing a call to lynching. You're criticizing me for mentioning that this other person called for a lynching.

Good job, folks. Way to internally police your own fringe element. Nice priorities you have there, Harry. Are you Anonymous? Is this why you'd rather criticize me for complaining about lynching than criticize someone for actually calling for a lynching? Or do you just like lynching?

At 9:39 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

But Spanky. Is Anon being serious about lynching people? Or his he merely being almost as hyperbolic in his comments as you are?

There have been liberals who have 'jokingly' called for the assasination of GW Bush. Should we take them seriously, ignore them as juvenile ravings? Do liberals like yourself condemn such comments? What?

At 9:51 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

I forgot to add; There have been those in the press that have alleged that journalist in Iraq are being deliberately "targeted" by US troops there. Eason Jordan, formerly of CNN as an example. So far, there have been no evidence this is actually the case and its only been alleged by the few 'fringe' elements.

Isnt it just as wrong, Spanky, for people in the journalist profession to make these unsubstantiated charges? After all, people take journalists at there absolute word. I take this more seriously than some antonymous poster musing about lynching's wouldn't you?

At 10:46 AM, April 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry, you don't get to change the subject.

Here's what happened, let me remind you:

X says conservatives are wrong about some issues.

Blog commenters attack!

Y says people should be murdered for saying what they think.

Crickets chirp!

This is an interesting dichotomy. But it's relevant to this website and the people who comment on it. If a person comes up to you and says "lynch the media!" should your response be "don't lynch the media! that's bad!" or total silence because somewhere someone is saying something equally bad or worse?

This is a re-run of the whole "X is worse than Y, so Y should never be criticized."

People have, in fact, said bad things, and they deserve criticism in general. But here is an example of a very bad thing that was said right here, and I'm the only one apparently who had the gumption to condemn lynching. No one else. This is the here-and-now. This is, perhaps, indicative of the priorities of people who frequent this website.

At 11:02 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

But when those people stopped calling themselves Democrats and started calling themselves Republicans, suddenly everything changed.

Last time I checked, Robert Byrd was still a Democrat.

We don't really pay attention to Anon comments one way or another. In fact, most conservatives don't pay attention to each other's comments, cause usually we're reading the blog post and replying to it directly. There's no constant harping back and forth, no mirror circle of "I Agree Completely", that you might see somewhere else.

Anons are anons, and what they say are not inter-connected with any party, name, pseudo-name, identity, or political persuasion.

At 11:45 AM, April 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's funny; on the most recent thread, someone wrote a parody of what they imagine a strawman liberal would say, ending with:

"True freedom fighters would gladly wear burkhas if it means bringing down the tyranny of Bush."

And yet, other commenters found the time to criticise this person.

So you have people leaping over an obvious farce, because it was a "crazed Leftist" attacking Bush.

On the other hand, you have another anonymous who advocated the murder of people for exercising their rights to a free press. Was it a parody? Who cares; none of you had anything to say about this.

Lefty extremist parody: attacked.
Righty extremist parody: ignored.


At 4:42 PM, April 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this has nothing to do with the subject, but does anybody know whether McCarthy's leaks (assuming she is really the leaker) were treasonous, and whether the First Amendment protects journalists who leak classified information?

I guess another way of looking at it would be: How much protection do I need from my own government? Do I value that protection enough to grant the press carte blanche to reveal on absolutely anything the government does at any time? If not, how do I tell when the whistleblower and/or journalist has crossed the line? Must there be a direct, provable link between the leaked information and the death of American soldiers? Or will violating the principle of secrecy be enough to convict?

Again, nowadays the question is so politicized that I despair of ever finding a concensus. For some people, the whole whistle-blowing business is a form of dissent. So my question is, is dissent always good? (For the folks above, dissent against the war is always good.) Do you have to exercise dissent every day and in every way lest you lose the right? Or is it like a dangerous weapon, to be employed in an emergency but kept discreetly hidden in normal situations?

For what it's worth, I think that McCarthy should be prosecuted. She signed a legal agreement to protect certain information, and she violated that agreement. So she's a dissenter or whatever - she knew the job was dangerous when she took it. If you want to stop leaks, beat up the leakers.

I don't think the Post reporter should be prosecuted. In general, I don't believe the government should pick on civilians unless those civilians are actively spying for a foreign government. Say what you will, the Post folks are just doing their jobs.

At 3:14 AM, April 29, 2006, Blogger Jack H said...

I don't think of myself as an angry person. Really, it's all under control. Equinimity. But I maintain my relative equelibrium by avoid things that are likely to antagonize me. Alas, Mary McM has fallen before my baleful eye, and my ire grows. I have a son in the military, and anything that is likely to encourage or fuel the enemy, is going to provoke my wrath. I wrote my own posting re this character

in which I note, "Whistle-blowing is a public act. It calls attention to wrongful action. It is the act of a strong conscience. Whether it’s the rape-whistle that calls for help, or the referee’s whistle that calls a rule-violation, it is designed to stop malfeasance.

"Ms. McCarthy’s blowing was not an act of conscience. Her job -- one of supreme trust -- involved an understanding of the fact and need of secrecy. Secret is not bad, in itself -- it is necessary, sometimes. It was not her place, to unilaterally decide what the greatest good might be in this case. Her position was one of subordination, and effectively one of military discipline -- since American soldiers will die because of her fat mouth and stupid brain. Act of conscience? No, rather, her act was a partisan ploy, a cowardly, skulking, secret betrayal of whatever integrity one might otherwise have imputed to her -- done for the sake of bringing disapprobation upon an Administration she works against."

There are not words sufficiently harsh to communicate the contempt this creature deserves. How is this NOT spying? That she gives information to the media, rather than the Islamists, gives her a pass? If Aimes had given his secrets to the media, would he be a media hero, rather than a traitor?

It's insane.



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