One can usually expect the Washington Post to reflect a liberal point of view in their editorials. After all, Washington, D.C. is the most liberal city in the United States. There are so many moonbats flitting around the halls of Congress and the agencies that you can’t put out a cigarette without burning a hole in someone’s tin foil hat.
That said, there really is no excuse for this:
IF CIA OFFICIALS leaked information about the agency’s secret prisons to The Post’s Dana Priest, then the American public owes them a debt of gratitude. We don’t know who the sources were for Ms. Priest’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work, though we assume there were many. (The news and editorial departments here operate separately, and they don’t share such information.) Last week a CIA officer on the verge of retirement, Mary O. McCarthy, was fired for speaking to Ms. Priest and other journalists, though she says she did not provide classified information about the secret prisons. Anyone who talked from inside the CIA violated the agency’s rules, if not the law. But they also upheld the public interest.
The “secret prisons are bad” theme has taken hold and there’s not much one can do at this point to debunk it. The fact is, two separate Commissions of the European Union have been unable to find any human rights violations as a result of the program which means that the only “evidence” we have at this point that the secret prisons carried out violations of human rights and torture is an anonymously sourced article by Dana Priest which was partly based on stories overseas from even more questionable sources (left wing journalist Stephen Grey did much of the original work on the flights of prisoners) but which never offer a shred of proof that any torture took place. (Priest mentions the death of one prisoner of exposure due to his being forced to lie on a cold, prison floor).
I am personally convinced that the prisons, in fact, existed. But as far as what went on there, no one has been able to prove a damn thing.
Are secret prisons in and of themselves, illegal? Well, if you believe captured terrorists have the same constitutional rights as you or I then yes indeed they are. If, however, you believe that we’re at war and that the idea of foreign terrorists being able to game a system they are trying to destroy is utter nonsense then they are not illegal and probably even a good idea.
But for Mary McCarthy (who according to her lawyer did not have access to information about the prisons) and others who had unauthorized contacts with the press on this story, they took it upon themselves to make a moral judgement on a program that foreign governments were desperate to keep secret – and for obvious reasons. If it got out that al Qaeda prisoners were being held in their country, they would present themselves as a terrorist target. But to McCarthy, the Washington Post, and those that agree with them, this vital foreign policy goal should take a back seat to their narrow concept of what is or is not moral.
A close call perhaps? But that’s why we elect Presidents. They are the ones authorized to make the close calls during wartime, not the Mary McCarthys of the world. I can understand if massive violations of human rights were occurring at those prisons then a troubled conscience could be used as a defense for leaking. But since no evidence exists that such horrific practices took place, what possible motivation could there be to make the prison story public?
If you guessed pure partisanship, you win a cookie:
We don’t question the need for intelligence agencies to gather or keep secrets, or to penalize employees who fail to do so. Leaks that compromise national security, such as the deliberate delivery of information to foreign governments, must be aggressively prosecuted. But the history of the past several decades shows that leaks of classified information to the U.S. media have generally benefited the country—whether it was the disclosure of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam era or the more recent revelations of secret prisons and domestic spying during the war on terrorism. Those who leak to the press often do so for patriotic reasons, not because they wish to damage national security.
How “patriotic” was it to leak a classified analysis (one of dozens of similar analysis about an insurgency most of which contradicted the leak) about post war Iraq three days before the first Presidential debate in 2004?
If this be patriotism, I’d hate to see the Post’s definition of treason.
That’s only one example, of course. But what the hell is the difference between leaking classified information to a newspaper and handing the same information to a foreign government? Either way, our enemies see it. Such parsing is complete nonsense. To try and draw that distinction is idiotic, something the Post has gone overboard to prove themselves to be in this editorial. Anyone who thinks that revealing the existence of the NSA intercept program (erroneously referred to above as “domestic spying) didn’t do damage to our ability to track al Qaeda suspects both overseas and in this country is deluded.
I tried to draw a distinction between “good leaks” and “bad leaks” earlier and I’m afraid I didn’t do the subject justice. I agree that leaking the Pentagon Papers was probably a good thing. But I disagree that most leaks are done by patriots or that there exists some moral justification for leaking out of spite or partisanship as is clearly the case with what the CIA has been doing these last 3 or more years with regards to the Bush Administration’s War on Terror. And if Porter Goss has made getting the leakers a high priority it is only because of the enormous damage they are doing to the effort to defeat the fanatics who, if they get their way, will kill us all.
Jonah Goldberg on the WaPo editorial:
I think the Washington Post’s editorials are miles ahead of the Times’ in quality and seriousness—usually. But this self-justifying gas mass of an editorial is just ridiculous. It boils down to: Sure, leaks are bad. Just not the ones we put in our newspaper and get Pulitzers for. I just hope Andy McCarthy wasn’t drinking hot coffee when he read it this morning.
And make sure to read this piece in Opinion Journal.
Confederate Yankee gets it about right:
Todayâ€™s Washington Post editorial Bad Targeting was probably left unsigned with the primary goal of protecting the reputation of the wretch assigned to excrete it. You can hardly blame them. If a name were ever assigned to this dunghill of journalistic excuses, the author would forever lose what credibility he or she retains.
The Post sticks with septic certainty to its allegation that the United States has (or had) secret prisons in Europe, even after investigation have found no proof of illegal renditions, and no proof that such prisons ever existed. None.
Actually, the existence of the prisons may be in some dispute but I think that the totality of the evidence points to our ferrying prisoners to at least a safe house type arrangement in a couple of eastern European countries. Whether they could be considered “prisons” or whether torture has been carried out there is still unproven.