My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Reserve All Credit, Deflect All Blame

The New York Times runs a patently self-serving CYA editorial this morning. It's almost laughable in its convolutions of logic, but then, we've come to expect that.

The longest-running of the leak cases involves Valerie Wilson, a covert C.I.A. operative whose identity was leaked to the columnist Robert Novak. The question there was whether the White House was using this information in an attempt to silence Mrs. Wilson's husband, a critic of the Iraq invasion, and in doing so violated a federal law against unmasking a covert operative. There is a world of difference between that case and a current one in which the administration is trying to find the sources of a New York Times report that President Bush secretly authorized spying on American citizens without warrants. The spying report was a classic attempt to give the public information it deserves to have. The Valerie Wilson case began with a cynical effort by the administration to deflect public attention from hyped prewar intelligence on Iraq. The leak inquiry in that case ended up targeting the press, and led to the jailing of a Times reporter.

Actually, the important point is that the "leak" of Valerie Plame's name involved no real wrongdoing, since Plame had been deskbound for almost seven years and her status was fairly widely known in Washington, while the NSA surveillance leak involved codeword materials and real intelligence sources and methods.

Oh, but . . .

The White House has yet to show that national security was harmed by the report on electronic spying, which did not reveal the existence of such surveillance - only how it was being done in a way that seems outside the law.

Well, it's hard to say how security was harmed, since there's no way to know what we can't know--only through such intercepts could we learn of plots and we're not going to get those now, so there's no way to know what harm has come.

And notice how studiously the Times avoids mentioning that this sort of NSA activity was started by Jimmy Carter, of all people, and has been in use by every administration since then. It's only now, when we actually are at war with an enemy that has the ability to strike us in the homeland, that the Times chooses to reveal this program.

Talk about cynical . . . .

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