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November 18, 2005

Leaks are different

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (11/9, A-5) has demanded an investigation into the leak of classified information about secret detention centers in other countries where prisoners are being held. The poor man just doesn’t get it.

If what he is after is payback for the Valerie Plame scandal, someone needs to explain this to him: A manipulative leak that exposes a CIA operative is not the same as blowing the whistle on continued prisoner abuse that is illegal and immoral. As in the Terri Schiavo debacle, Frist is misjudging public opinion.

I remember the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” in which the violent protagonist’s punishment was having his eyes clamped open, forcing him to watch violent acts over and over again until he could no longer tolerate them. I would like Frist to have to repeatedly watch the torture that has been perpetrated on scores of foreign prisoners during this administration’s watch.

Maybe then he would finally get it: The majority of Americans once felt proud to be on the moral high ground. Many or most are now ashamed of what the rest of the world thinks of us.

Judy Stoddard
Kansas City



Engineer once again appears to be regurgitating misinformation spread by several right-wing media figures, as well as by numerous internet blogs.

The media watchdog group Mediamatters.org has a good overview of the basis for Fitzgerald's (and the CIA's) determination that Plame was indeed a covert agent as defined by the law. See here (and scroll down to the section on Plame's covert status):


The full text of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 is available here:


Among other things, it defines a "Covert Agent" as,

"a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency—
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States"

Now, the question Engineer seeks to raise is whether Valarie Plame is indeed a "covert agent" under the law. One would think that Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in this case, is more than aware of this element of proof, and has taken ample care to verify it. Engineer, you have stated that "she had worked at a desk in Langley for six years," but you give no source for your contention, which seems to contradict that of most named sources.

For example, one former CIA official, Larry C. Johnson, identified Plame as a "non-official cover operative." He explained: "...that meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed."


There seems to be quite a bit of misinformation floating around cyberspace. It's always a good idea to post the links to your sources when discussing topics like these.


The point of MR's statement may be that if Europeans view countries such as Syria and China more favorably than they do the US, then it is obvious that their opinions are biased. Considering the kind of governments we are talking about in Syria and China it is hard to see what we reasonably can do to change those views. It does not seem that such views could be totally due to our actions.
Is saying someone has liberal friends a slur? Aren't you? And proud of it? And isn't that the way you should be?
In the Terry Shivo Case there was family involved on both sides, so it wasn't just Government intrusion into private affairs.


To Mark R. Give me a break. You want to throw around the terms "liberal" as if its a slur. Whats it mean, big government? Grotesque expansion of Federalism? Well look at George Will's column today in the Star and you've described the current Bush administration, presumable a darling of "conservatives". Want to define "liberal" as government intruding in your private affairs in order to tell you how to live? Well then, look at your own comments about Terry Shivo. Who was using government to intrude into the most private of human decisions in that case.Thank goodness for courts where reasoned analysis usually wins out, as opposed to public forums, which usually are nothing more that meaningless histronics.


"And many Europeans view oppressive countries such as China and Syria more favorably than the U.S., so why should their opinions matter?"

Because they are our allies? Can we afford to ignore the impression our actions leave around the world?

Mark Robertson

What continued abuse or torture is Judy talking about? Abu Gharib was awful, but those involved are being or have been prosecuted. And even there, it is not likely that actual torture occurred
Whoever leaked the information about the secret prisons, should go to prison.
And since when does public opinion determine right and wrong? The Terry Schiavo situation was actually a proud moment for Congress and President Bush, when they attempted to save an innocent person's life.
Sadly, renegade courts illegally ignored the effort.
Judy and her liberal friends are upset that the Valerie Wilson investigaton didn't amount to much, so they are returning to the torture tactic.
She is showing what she actually thinks of the military.
And many Europeans view oppressive countries such as China and Syria more favorably than the U.S., so why should their opinions matter? Thankyou.

Mark Robertson


Yes the situations are different. In the Valerie Plame case the law under which the investgation was conducted was not broken.
In the "leak" matter it is obvious that a law has been broken.
Many claim that there are situations under which breaking the law is justified. The undergrounr railroad would be one. That is an entirely different subject than what is legal and what is not.

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