Remember that time the Bush White House outed a CIA agent, AND THE MSM SAID NOTHING? Me neither. Because it didn’t happen.
Of course, what did happen was a kerfuffle that came to be known as the “Valerie Plame affair,” which is a quaint way of describing a political scandal resulting from a White House CIA leak. Yes, it may sound unrealistic that the DC press corps once held the White House accountable for something like that, but it was a different time back then, which is to say: a Republican was president.
We take this trip and follow the Yellowcake Road because, over Memorial Day weekend, while conservatives were remembering fallen heroes and liberals were fixated on misogynistic hashtags, the Washington Post reported that the Obama White House revealed the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, by name, to 6,000 recipients.
This matters for two reasons:
1) the disclosure could be against the law. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act makes it a crime if someone:
intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both. 50 USC 421.
The disclosure — that is, the publishing of the name — was intentional. The name was placed right there next to the title of the post in Afghanistan. Name, post. What the law does not require is malice, evil intention, desire to harm, or the effect of actual harm. Just the intent to disclose, which exists. And the rest of the statute was obviously violated, since the Chief was covert, he or she was taking measures to stay covert, and the press who received the disclosure was not authorized to receive it. Note that while there are defenses for disclosing — some of which were used in the Plame affair — none of them apply here. And while you read them over, notice that “we’re incompetent” is not a valid defense to the crime.
2) the disclosure was far more damaging than that regarding Plame. In the court of public opinion, we were told again and again that Plame was an outed agent whose cover was blown. But really, the only cover Plame had was the one on Vanity Fair magazine. The terms “undercover” and “agent” were used repeatedly in 2003 to describe Plame, without any justification or backup. SHE JUST WAS, we were told again and again. In fact, she was not an agent in the field, was assigned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and best that we can tell, was a glorified desk jockey.
Unlike the Bush scandal, this involves a CIA chief actually in the field, in Afghanistan. Our agents in the field are risking their life each day, facing danger in hostile circumstances, and a blown identity could cost them their life, and the lives of those they supervise (this is not to say that some in Langley don’t work clandestinely to protect lives in the field, but again, this was never shown to be the case with Wilson’s wife).
Further, this is set against the backdrop of Benghazi, where, among other assets, the CIA annex in Libya was attacked, and the CIA station chief in Libya told the White House immediately that it was a terrorist attack, resulting in the deaths of four Americans overseas in a country where enemies want to kill us, you know, like the CIA station chief in Afghanistan. Obama’s White House tells us that Benghazi was a long time ago, but the truth is, Libya and Afghanistan are dangerous parts of the world where terrorists want to kill Americans. Revealing the identity of the CIA chief puts lives in peril more than the publishing of Plame the Paper Pusher.
We expect to hear the Obama apologists explain that this was a momentary slip-up, a bureaucratic snafu, and the error was immediately rectified. That this was nothing nefarious, defended by pointing out that this was just more Obama WH incompetence, and then blame it on some low-level workers in Cincinnati. But tell that to the CIA chief in Kabul whose life is ruined, whose contacts are potentially exposed, and whose cover is blown.
Bush outs a domestic CIA agent to 1 reporter: SCANDAL! Obama outs an overseas CIA agent to 6,000 reporters: crickets.
Now, none of this is to say that we expect the mainstream media to suddenly come to its collective senses and treat this disclosure with the outrage and drumbeat of scandal we saw back in 2003. But we are a nation of laws, and if disclosing the identity of a covert agent was worth a special counsel, then it is now. It’s time for the MSM to start behaving like the watchdogs that we had in 2003, and not the lapdogs we have now. And it’s time to hold this president’s administration to the same standards used to measure the one preceding it, and have the CIA leaker ‘frog-marched out of the White House.’
Accountability. It’s about time we saw some of it.
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