Saturday, July 16, 2005

Someone Who Doesn't Deserve a Security Clearance (and His Name Isn't Karl Rove)

The Valerie Plame kerfuffle is an excellent example of official Washington's absolute hypocrisy regarding matters of secrecy and national security. For more than a year, the capital's elite have been in a tizzy over the alleged "outing" of Ms. Plame (a former CIA covert operative), supposedly by members of the Bush Administration.

I won't regurgitate the latest revelations from the Plame affair; suffiice it to say, it appears that no laws were broken when Mrs. Wilson's cover was "blown." In fact, her status as a CIA employee seems to have been widely known. Just yesterday, one of her former supervisors at the agency reported that Ms. Plame bragged about her work for the CIA to friends, neighbors, and anyone else who would listen.

Unfortunately, this non-scandal has diverted attention from a pressing security matter that truly deserves national attention. For more than a decade, Washington has been engaged in a "leak game," willingly disclosing classified information to support personal and political agendas.

Here's an excellent example, recounted in this blog earlier this year. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Democratic staffers openly discussed a reported secret spy satellite program called "Misty." I'll use the terms "reported" and "alleged" because I'm bound by the same non-disclosure agreements that Senator Byden and Congressional staffers also signed. By outing the alleged program, Wyden and his allies made it more difficult for the intelligence community to sustain the system, resulting in its potential cancellation.

As we noted at the time, the public disclosure of this program--assuming it exists--represents a grave breach of national security, and would allow our adversaries to gain better knowledge of our intelligence capabilities. And naturally, no one called for a suspension of Wyden's security clearance.

Better late than never, I say. If Washington were truly serious about protecting our secrets, then special prosecutors would be appointed to investigate these matters, and the offending parties would be punished. The Oregon Senator's public discussion of alleged covert satellite programs deserves official scrutiny, and until that matter is resolved, his security clearance should be suspended.

If you agree, contact Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. If he's truly serious about stopping leaks, he'd call for an investigation of Wyden and his staff. Instead, the politicians will remain preoccupied with the Plame non-scandal, while genuine secrets are willingly--and maliciously--disclosed.

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