The Carelessness and/or Corruption of U.S. Intelligence

Mark Steyn, with typical clarity, describes what the “American people” are really entitled to in the CIA leak case.

Steyn first quotes from the report of prosecutor Fitzgerald’s summary to the jury in the Libby case:

“Mr. Fitzgerald said the disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s identity had left ‘a cloud over the White House over what happened’ as well as a cloud over Mr. Cheney because he had been behind the effort to counter Mr. Wilson’s charges… ‘Don’t you think the American people are entitled to a straight answer?’ Mr. Fitzgerald asked of the jury. He said that ‘a critic points fingers at the White House and as a result his wife gets dragged into the newspapers.’ “

“A cloud over the White House” is a very nebulous legal concept. So is “the American people”’s entitlement to a straight answer about why a finger-pointing critic’s wife got dragged into the newspapers. Some of the American people think they’re entitled to a straight answer from the finger-pointer about why he lied about what he was told in Niger, what he reported back to the CIA, and about how he got the mission in the first place. But, whether or not they’re entitled to a straight answer, they have no legal redress over the issue.

Some of the American people think the real scandal is not that Richard Armitage leaked the name of the wife who landed Joe Wilson the Niger job but the fact that she landed him the job in the first place. What that reveals about at best the carelessness and at worst the corruption of US intelligence on the critical issue of the day is very dispiriting. Yet that section of the American people also have no legal redress.

So the emptiness of Fitzgerald’s argument exposes the essentially political nature of his case. The Wilson story – in which one man publicly inserts himself into the biggest foreign policy debate of our time, inflates and mischaracterizes his role in it, and then demands legal action against those who dispute his self-inflation and mischaracterization – should be self-parodying.

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