Taking Care of Your Own

Last summer Mark Steyn described the essence of the Valerie Plame affair as:

“…the old standby plot of lame Hollywood conspiracy thrillers: rogue elements within the CIA attempting to destabilize the elected government.”

At the time, it seemed a little over the top. Sure it was clear that Joseph Wilson had been sent to Niger at the behest of his wife, a CIA operative. And yes, he lied through his teeth when he returned and was caught red handed by the Senate Intelligence Committee looking into the famous “Sixteen Words.” And yes, all this happened in the heat of a presidential campaign. But a CIA plot to influence an election? It seemed like just more of Mark Steyn’s patented hyperbole.

But now some months later, after the firing of Mary McCarthy and the emergence of a group called VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity), a left wing group of former CIA officers, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. Look at the facts.

There is no doubt that Plame and Wilson were trying mightily from inside the CIA to discredit the administration. The VIPS published memoirs, leaked classified information, and actively worked to counter administration policy. And others slipped information to the press about NSC wiretaps, secret CIA prisons in Europe, and CIA rendition flights - all in the months prior to the election and all in a manner that seemed well coordinated to aid the Kerry campaign.

Skeptics may say that all this is just an effort “to get the truth out.” But as Wilson and others have played so fast and loose with the “truth”, it is hard to believe that these folks acted in a manner totally devoid of political motives. Clearly these former Clinton administration NSC folks and Democrat sympathizers would have been well positioned to benefit from a Kerry administration.

To date, neither the Justice Department nor the CIA have indicated that they will prosecute any of these people for leaking classified information or breaking their agreements not to discuss intelligence information after leaving the government. Yet if none of them are ever prosecuted, it will seem as if the government goes easy on those within, while prosecuting people without political connections to the fullest extent of the law.

As someone who has held a secret clearance and knows the damage that loose lips can bring down, it seems mightily unfair that people with political connections can get away with leaking classified information just because an administration doesn’t want to deal with the political fallout of enforcing the law.