Why Plame matters…

Here’s a very concise and balanced assessment of why the Plame leak matters at Strategic Forecasting.

A couple of money quotes…

When it is revealed that you were a NOC, foreign intelligence services begin combing back over your life, examining every relationship you had. Anyone you came into contact with becomes suspect. Sometimes, in some countries, becoming suspect can cost you your life. Revealing the identity of a NOC can be a matter of life and death — frequently, of people no one has ever heard of or will ever hear of again.

and here…

Imagine, if you will, working in Damascus as a NOC and reading that the president’s chief adviser had confirmed the identity of a NOC. As you push into middle age, wondering what happened to your life, the sudden realization that your own government threatens your safety might convince you to resign and go home. That would cost the United States an agent it had spent decades developing. You don’t just pop a new agent in his place. That NOC’s resignation could leave the United States blind at a critical moment in a key place. Should it turn out that Rove and Libby not only failed to protect Plame’s identity but deliberately leaked it, it would be a blow to the heart of U.S. intelligence. If just one critical NOC pulled out and the United States went blind in one location, the damage could be substantial. At the very least, it is a risk the United States should not have to incur.

And one last quote…

But even if we regard the press as unethical by our standards, their actions were not illegal. On the other hand, if Rove and Libby even mentioned the name of Valerie Plame in the context of being a CIA employee — NOC or not — on an unsecured line to a person without a security clearance or need to know, while the nation was waging war, that is the end of the story. It really doesn’t matter why or whether there was a plan or anything. The minimal story — that they talked about Plame with a reporter — is the end of the matter.

My two cents – If Rove and/or Libby outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, regardless of the motivation for doing so, they broke the law and should be prosecuted. Time and the NY Times should also take a very hard look at their editorial oversight functions and give a long hard think how they plan to control irresponsible reporting in the future. The article I’ve linked to above points out that while what the reporters involved in this case did is not illegal it is probably unethical. Outing an intelligence operative, while it may seem like a very sexy story, is irresponsible reporting. The public was not served by these reports. On the contrary, who knows how much damage was done to the US intelligence network Valerie Plame was connected to by her identity being published.

Thanks to Fark for the link.

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