Friday, October 14, 2005

Cohen's Dangerous Nonsense

I have neither the time nor the inclination to go into great detail, but this piece by Richard Cohen attempting to attack Patrick Fitzgerald for vigorously "investigating a crime that probably wasn't one in the first place but that now, as is often the case, might have metastasized into some sort of coverup -- but, again, of nothing much."

Why is it nothing much? Other than the obvious "these people have apparently perjured themselves again and again", which I don't remember Cohen being slow to attack during the Clinton years, there's the question of what the underlying crime was.

Let's be clear, here: the crime was the leaking of the name and status of a CIA agent under Non-Official Cover, and it is a crime because it not only endangers national security, but dozens of lives at the very least.

So when Richard Cohen says:

This is rarely considered a crime. In the Plame case, it might technically be one, but it was not the intent of anyone to out a CIA agent and have her assassinated (which happened once) but to assassinate the character of her husband. This is an entirely different thing. She got hit by a ricochet.
He's demonstrating either dangerous stupidity, dangerous ignorance, or dangerous oversight. It doesn't matter why she was attacked, although I'm of the opinion that were it done carelessly as a "ricochet" it was an even greater crime, due to the contempt it shows for Plame's safety and those she has worked with. What matters is that they did it, and that it was wrong and dangerous.

He continues his defense:

More is at stake here than bringing down Karl Rove or some other White House apparatchik, or even settling some score with Miller, who is sometimes accused of taking this nation to war in Iraq all by herself. The greater issue is control of information. If anything good comes out of the Iraq war, it has to be a realization that bad things can happen to good people when the administration -- any administration -- is in sole control of knowledge and those who know the truth are afraid to speak up. This -- this creepy silence -- will be the consequence of dusting off rarely used statutes to still the tongues of leakers and intimidate the press in its pursuit of truth, fame and choice restaurant tables. Apres Miller comes moi.
Ok, other than the infantile attitude towards what is (as I said) a serious crime, what Cohen continues to misrepresent is that there are leaks, and there are leaks. Most are harmless. They're political gaming, and while they're embarrassing and may harm a particular government, they don't harm the state itself or the citizens. The sort of leak that we have here is something far different, in that it treated fundamental issues of national security in a cavalier way for political gain.

It was also--and how Cohen misses this is beyond me--a case where a leak were used to PREVENT whistleblowing and truthtelling. Wilson is not the establishment- the leakers are. It's intimidation, and the media's role in that was the chief lesson of the Iraq war.

Yes, Richard. Apres Miller comes toi. And you know what? If your day comes because you willingly serve as a tool for repression through leaks of dangerous information, you'll deserve every bit of it.

Let's just hope that if that day comes, you'll be the reporter in the safe jail cell, and not the guy getting shot in an alley in the night because a contact of your husband's made powerful enemies.

Edit: Americablog had a similar reaction.

No comments:

Post a Comment