Monday, April 24, 2006

Of course there’s a double-standard!

With half-baked reporting like this, Pincus may be headed for next year’s Pulitzer Prize.

Here’s how the double-standard works: the President can’t “leak” information. He can only release it. The administration has that authority, regardless of any political implications that might exist. In contrast, CIA officials are not authorized to release classified information, unless ordered to do so. Why is that? Because the President is elected and CIA bureaucrats are not. It would be very dangerous for career CIA agents to determine policy. It’s a simple case of separation of powers (like civilian control over the military) – something that Democrats in Congress seem to be quick to cite though slow (if not incapable) to understand.

That’s the double standard - now on to the reporting:

The first thing that bugged me about Walter Pincus’s story is how he chose to describe the McCarthy leak and the release of Plame’s identity. Check it out:

Describing Plamegate –

Harman was referring to White House staff members disclosing the classified identity of CIA case officer Valerie Plame in 2003.
And later on, in describing McCarthy’s leak –

McCarthy, while working for CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson, is alleged to have "knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence, including operational information" to journalists including The Washington Post's Dana Priest.
Now I’m not a journalist and I would invite those Liverputty readers/contributors who have journalism experience to set me straight on the matter: How is it that Pincus makes sure to include “alleged” whenever addressing McCarthy’s leak, even though she reportedly admitted to leaking the information, yet, Pincus does not use “alleged” for the Plamegate accusations, even though 2 years of investigations have not turned up enough evidence for an indictment, let alone a conviction? Pincus’s presumption of innocence seems to be bass ackwards. Is it kosher to assume innocence on someone who has confessed guilt?

And then there’s the more minor matter of McCarthy’s political donations. Pincus does point out that McCarthy donated $2000 to Kerry, but does not mention the remaining $7K of donations she’s made in years past to other Democratic causes. By mentioning the Kerry donations, we do get the picture of her political leanings, but surely the other donations would’ve further hurt the claim that she “leaked” for our national security and not for partisan reasons. Of course, her political donations don’t prove one way or another what the real motives were for the leak, but that’s something a paper should report for the reader to decide, right?

I’ll refrain from criticizing Pincus for seriously reporting on John Kerry’s arguments, as it is hard enough for a person to describe how Kerry comes down on any particular topic without sounding utterly ridiculous, if at all coherent. That Kerry thinks “leaks” that are “true” are acceptable is pretty darn hilarious since it pretty much nullifies any belief that any administration can or should classify anything for any reason. Also, I find Kerry’s (and others’) comparisons between the leaking of black sites and the NSA program with Plamegate to be disingenuous at best - regardless of what the definition of is is. Whether Pincus agrees with Kerry’s rubric for what’s a good or bad leak is beside the point. For the record, I assume Pincus does agree that the NSA leak and black sites leak are good and the efforts to discredit Wilson are bad – but that’s just my assumption.


Edward Copeland said...

Actually, the latest story quotes friends of Mary McCarthy saying she categorically denies leaking the prison story to the Post. Click here

Jeffrey Hill said...

So MSNBC gaveth before it tooketh away. If there's doubt regarding her confession, then say the confession is alleged - as it stands, Pincus never makes mention of the confession, "alleged" or otherwise. It still does not explain the assumption of guilt regarding the White House staff in Plamegate - which is doubly curious when you consider that Pincus had some involvement in that kerfuffle.

Edward Copeland said...

Even the CIA has changed its story. They say they didn't fire her for leaking the story, but simply for "having contacts" with Dana Priest.

Jeffrey Hill said...

So it wasn’t one leak, but a stream of inappropriate contacts (no doubt talking about the weather)? Alleged, of course. We have reason to believe that in 61 years, McCarthy may have opened her mouth, but we can't confirm if any noise actually came out. It’s been noted, Mr. Copeland: still not a peep from you about Pincus’s assumption of guilt regarding the White House staff and Plamegate. No doubt the MSM will bat for McCarthy as eagerly as you – yet no such effort will be used for accusations toward the White House. That’s a double standard that I don’t get.