Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Some Leaks Are Better Than Others... Part II

Yesterday I posted on an incisive editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (scroll down to "Some Leaks Are Better than Others..."). Today, the newspaper which printed the story leading to the firing of Mary O. McCarthy finally weighed in. From the Washington Post:

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 Bush administration is holding a number of terrorism suspects incommunicado in secret prisons abroad without due process or even notification of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and some detainees have been subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. This is a gross violation of international law and American values, and it's essential to our democracy that such an exceptional policy be subject to public debate. Maybe disclosure of the prisons damaged national security -- the CIA has offered no evidence of that -- but it's hard to imagine what could be more damaging than the existence of the system itself. CIA Director Porter J. Goss appears to have dismissed Ms. McCarthy to send a message to others who leaked to the press. That's a questionable use of his authority.
[Emphasis added]

While the editorial's position in the matter is certainly understandable (WaPo, after all, was the paper that printed the story that offended the CIA and the regime), one wonders why it took so long to get written. I would have expected the editorial over the weekend (Sunday, at the top of the page) or yesterday (when an uninvolved newspaper took a much stronger stance -- see my last post). What was the paper waiting for? Were they polling their readers and advertisers?

I suspect the editorialist had to think long and hard on the issue, especially since that page was recently graced with an editorial supporting the President when he made the Valerie Plame leak possible by declassifying parts of a document. They key, of course, is mentioned in the paranthetical aside from above: "The news and editorial departments here operate separately, and they don't share such information."

Heh. That much is pretty clear.


Anonymous Nora said...

Apparently the editorial department and the editorial department don't share information either, if they can advocate such diametrically opposed positions.

Or can we hope that all the outrage over that other editorial, "A Good Leak", might have had an impact?

4:52 AM  

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