22 Jun 2008

Revealing CIA Officers’ Identities Is Not a Crime When the Times Does It

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When Bush Administration policy opponent Richard Armitage’s disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson’s job in the course of gossiping with Robert Novak was apparently subsequently confirmed to Novak by administration officials interested in pointing out the partisan planning behind former Ambassador Wilson’s junket to Niger, the revealing of Mrs. Wilson’s CIA employment was treated by the left as major crime, despite the fact that Mrs. Wilson was not a covert agent in the terms defined by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.

Valerie Plame Wilson was working in the Counterproliferation Division of the Agency, liaisoning with other American and international agencies and publicly chairing meetings discussing that international problem. No evidence has ever been brought forward to indicate that she was doing anything likely to provoke a special personal animosity directed at herself on the part of terrorist organizations.

But for a Sunday headline, the New York Times today gleefully revealed the name, career background, role as targeting officer and interrogator of major al Qaeda prisoners, and current employment of a former CIA officer who certainly could be a particular target for revenge on the basis of his service, rejecting pleas on behalf of Mr. Martinez’s personal safety from the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency himself.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A., and a lawyer representing Mr. Martinez asked that he not be named in this article, saying that the former interrogator believed that the use of his name would invade his privacy and might jeopardize his safety. The New York Times, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked undercover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news articles and books, declined the request.

The irony is that the American left is perfectly capable of successfully indicting, prosecuting, and convicting political opponents on the basis of supposititious intelligence crimes, armed with control only of the media, while the Bush Administration is demonstrably unable to deter, prevent, or punish genuine intelligence leaks obviously rising to the level of violations of federal statutes, while theoretically in control of the entire Executive Branch, including the Intelligence agencies doing the leaking and the Department of Justice.

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