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ABC News and the equivalency card

When it comes to leaks which undermine our national security, we can always count on our media to come to the defense of those who leaked the information by either a) referring to them as “whistleblowers [1]” or b) utilizing the “everybody does it” defense.

Option B has been deployed by ABC news in what can only be described as a flimsy attempt at defending Mary McCarthy, the former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information [2] about secret CIA prisons in Europe to the media. From the ABC News report [3]:

April 23, 2006 — The firing this week of a veteran CIA analyst for disclosing confidential information is just the latest reminder that leaking government secrets can be a dangerous and risky game.

After all, leaking has been around as long as the nation itself.

In 1794, George Washington was outraged when Alexander Hamilton released details of a treaty negotiation.

Benjamin Franklin lost his job as postmaster after he leaked private letters to reveal political leanings of colonial leaders — letters that helped fan the flames of the Revolution.

“Leaks have been around since Jefferson was complaining about newspapers and what they were doing to him,” said Howard Kurtz, media critic for The Washington Post. “The difference now is you have so many more media outlets and a 24-hour digital world [so] that the leak can instantly go around the globe. You don’t have to wait for the newspaper to be delivered on horseback.”

Not that there was any shortage of horseback riding leakers in the old days. In fact, you might say it was the “midnight ride” of Paul Revere and his unauthorized disclosure of British troop movements back in 1775 that led to the birth of our nation.

Since then, our leaders have relied on leaks as an essential political tool, with everyone from Honest Abe Lincoln to FDR, Dwight Eisenhower and JFK.

Kim Priestap at Wizbang [4] slams this lame “everybody does it” defense.

Hat tip: Betsy Newmark [5], who has a few choice words of her own for ABC:

Bleh. How dumb is this? As if spying on an enemy army and giving that information to your side’s forces is a “leak.” Do these people have any understanding of logical reasoning at all? Or is it all fair when the need is to give a patriotic patina to breaking the law? If we’re going to close our eyes to such behavior then the message will go out to all our intelligence agents that they too can be a modern Paul Revere and get John Kerry’s praise if they leak to secret information.

Andrew McCarthy over at NRO’s “The Corner” blog nails it [6]:

That’s because McCarthy’s situation cannot be considered in a vacuum. Even with McCarthy considered alone, we are not talking about a single leak – the reporting indicates that she may be a serial leaker, the black-sites story being only the most prominent instance. But the broader context here is an intelligence community that was, quite brazenly, leaking in a manner designed to topple a sitting president. A big question here — maybe not for purposes of guilt under the espionage act, but for the more important policy issue of a politicized CIA — is whether she was part of a campaign that was grossly inappropriate for the intelligence community to engage in.

Remember Michael Scheuer, aka “Anonymous.” It is simply dumbfounding that, as an intelligence officer heading up the bin Laden team (i.e., the unit targeting the number one, active national security problem facing the country) he was permitted by the CIA to write books about what he was doing. He has indicated, though, that it was fine with the agency as long as he was slamming the Bush administration.

Valerie Plame Wilson thought the whole Bush administration notion that Saddam was trying to arm up with nukes was crazy. She maneuvered to have, not an objective analyst, but her husband – with no WMD expertise but an enemy of the president’s policy – sent to Niger, whence he returned and wrote a highly partisan, misleading and damaging op-ed in the NYTimes about the Bush administration’s case for toppling Saddam … which op-ed he was permitted by the self-same CIA to write notwithstanding that his trip was (and should have been) classified.

Yep.

Remember: A leak is a good leak if it hurts a Republican. It’s a bad leak if it hurts anyone else.

Update: Chris Hitchens asks [7] “Why no special prosecutor for the latest CIA leak case?”

Update II: A “former colleague” is saying [8] that Mary McCarthy has denied being the source of these leaks.

Update III: The FBI is conducting its own probe into classified leaks [9].

Reminder: For those who still want to claim that Bush “leaked” classified information (re: pLamegate [10]), click here [11] for a refresher as to why you are wrong.

Others blogging about this: AllahPundit at Hot Air [12], Jeff Goldstein [13], AJ Strata [14], Macsmind [15], Tom Maguire [16], Decision ’08 [17], The Real Ugly American [18], Dafydd at Big Lizards [19], Captain Ed [20], Rick Moran [21], Sweetness & Light [22], Gary Gross at California Conservative [23], Varifrank [24]

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