A Cautious Man
December 03, 2004
Got My Facts Learned Real Good Right Now
Thanks to the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal, I'm finally clear about what is a "good" leak, and what is a "bad" leak.

Want to reveal the name of someone with the CIA, who has worked undercover in the past, even if that reveals confidential information about the people she dealt with? That's a good leak:
Mr. Wilson had been denying any involvement at all on Ms. Plame's part, in order to suggest that her identity was disclosed by a still-unknown Administration official out of pure malice. If instead an Administration official cited nepotism truthfully in order to explain the oddity of Mr. Wilson's selection for the Niger mission, then there was no underlying crime. Motive is crucial under the controlling statute.

The 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act was written in the wake of the Philip Agee scandal to protect the CIA from deliberate subversion, not to protect the identities of agents and their spouses who choose to enter into a national political debate.
Got that? Leaking the name of the agent in order to change the subject, from what Mr. Wilson found to why he may have been there to find it, is okay. After all, by trying to get this information out, he chose to "enter a national political debate". So, that's a "good" leak, see?

Now, from yesterday's WSJ, we've learned what a "bad" leak is:
But now the ICRC has thrown confidentiality aside to attack the U.S., of all countries. And it matters little that the original leaker in this case might have been in the U.S. government. Officials at ICRC headquarters were only too happy to confirm the document's authenticity, and they quickly issued a statement complaining that "significant problems regarding conditions and treatment at Guantanamo Bay have not yet been adequately addressed."

This follows a similar leak in May regarding the Abu Ghraib prison, as well as the ICRC's unprecedented decision to publicly challenge the Bush Administration's original designation of the Gitmo detainees as unlawful combatants rather than prisoners of war. What's more, the leaked ICRC documents themselves reveal interpretations of the laws of war so contrary to what the Geneva Conventions actually say that it's hard to read them as other than products of anti-American animus.
Getting out information to the citizens of a democracy, about what their government is doing in their name, is clearly a "bad" leak.

Now, let's sum up. If you leak the name of a CIA operative, even though that might make future family members of CIA operatives reluctant to "enter a national political debate", you deserve a reward. If you leak (or confirm) information about abuse of detainees, such that the public might demand accountability, you deserve to be labeled as one of the "bad kids", and punished:
No longer careful, scrupulous and neutral, the ICRC has become just another politicized pressure group like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger is reportedly planning to visit Washington soon to press the U.S. government on Guantanamo and other issues. We hope he is told that he is leading his organization toward the loss of its $100 million-plus annual subsidy from U.S. taxpayers, as well as its special status come future revisions of the Geneva Conventions.
I hope this clears things up for all of you.



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