The New York Times, even to this day, remains “America’s newspaper”. But why?!
The latest brouhaha scandalous decision made by the newspaper involves the outing of 3 CIA officials in wake of reporting that two innocent hostage lives were taken in a drone attack. In response, 20 former senior CIA leaders penned a blistering response to the NYTimes Executive Editor Dean Baquet after he defended his paper’s decision to name names. The former CIA officials rebuked:
Officials who work on covert operations do not escape accountability. Their actions are carefully reviewed by the C.I.A.’s general counsel, the inspector general, White House officials, congressional overseers and Justice Department attorneys. Indeed, some of the operations referred to by The Times have been discussed publicly by the president and are some of the most carefully overseen in our government.
We respect the right of The Times to investigate and report on the government’s counterterrorism efforts. The media should question policy makers, including senior politically appointed leaders of the intelligence community, about these efforts.
But nothing is gained by “outing” career operations officers, who carry out such policies. They operate in the shadows, not because they want to; indeed, a life under cover can be enormously burdensome to family and loved ones. They operate in the shadows because we still need a small cadre of professionals who, when called upon, can operate in secret to protect the country.
These patriot lives are put in danger, as they have been directly involved in the war against jihadi and Islamist terror:
“The media should question policy makers, including senior politically appointed leaders of the intelligence community, about these efforts,” they wrote. “But nothing is gained by ‘outing’ career operations officers, who carry out such policies.”
Instead, publishing a secret identity makes “the name accessible to ISIS, Al Qaeda and every other murderer on the planet,” the former officials wrote, using an acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile in comments sections, I see leftists coming to the NYTime’s defense by asking where were the 20 CIA officials to express outrage against Cheney and Libby when Plame was outed. Oh, please!
Mr. Fitzgerald’s conduct warrants revisiting not only to set the record straight about Mr. Libby, but also to illustrate the damage that can be done to national security by a special counsel who, discovering no crime, generates through his investigations the alleged offenses he seeks to prosecute.
Scooter Libby did not “out” CIA employee Valerie Plame. That was done by then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a critic of the conduct of the Iraq war. Mr. Armitage disclosed to columnist Robert Novak that Ms. Plame, who at the time held a desk job in the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division, urged the agency to send her husband, retired Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, to Africa in early 2002 to investigate whether Iraq had sought uranium. Presidential aide Karl Rove and then-CIA Director of Public Affairs Bill Harlow confirmed Mr. Armitage’s disclosure for Novak’s July 14, 2003, column. (Novak died in 2009.)
Mr. Fitzgerald didn’t charge anyone with leaking Ms. Plame’s identity or disclosing classified information to reporters. From the moment he took over the FBI leak investigation in December 2003, he knew Mr. Armitage was the leaker but declined to prosecute him, Mr. Rove or Mr. Harlow because the disclosure of Ms. Plame’s identity wasn’t a crime and didn’t compromise national security.
Mr. Fitzgerald nonetheless pressed on for someone to prosecute, eventually focusing on Mr. Libby, whose trial became a contest of recollections. The excruciatingly inconsequential question on which his conviction turned was whether, as Mr. Libby recalled, he was surprised to hear NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert ask him about Ms. Plame in a phone call on July 10 or 11, 2003. In November 2003, Russert (who died in 2008) told the FBI that he didn’t recall mentioning Mr. Wilson’s wife to Mr. Libby, but couldn’t rule it out. By August 2004 Russert had changed his story. Under questioning by Mr. Fitzgerald, he insisted he could not have mentioned Ms. Plame.
Despite the many reasonable doubts that Mr. Libby’s lawyers raised about Russert’s recollection, Mr. Libby was convicted for what he said about a phone conversation during which the prosecutor himself insisted Ms. Plame was not mentioned.
Although the case centered on conflicting recollections of a four-year-old phone call, Judge Reggie B. Walton denied the defense request to present scientific testimony on the unreliability of memory. Jurors might have welcomed it: During deliberations, according to juror Denis Collins, they lamented their lack of expert knowledge. In any event, Mr. Libby’s and Tim Russert’s differing memories shouldn’t have mattered since Mr. Armitage disclosed Ms. Plame’s CIA employment.
Still, Mr. Fitzgerald—who declined to respond to written questions for this article—sought a conviction, and he went so far as to jail Judith Miller for 85 days to obtain evidence against her sources, one of whom was Mr. Libby.