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April 22, 2006

Dana Priest, High-Paid Stenographer

Not a huge thing, but interesting. Obviously Dana Priest was reporting on what McCarthy told her, so it isn't shocking that Priest's original article about the black prisons is infected with McCarthy's viewpoint.

Still, it's interesting to see how a source's POV shapes the reporter's story. Compare and contrast-- first, McCarthy's 9/11 Commission testimony again:

The Congress, too, has a role in warning. Unlike other functions of democratic government, the conduct of intelligence is purposely-and with the consent of the public-carried out in secret, out of the view of public and without much public debate. Instead, Americans rely on their representatives in Congress to ensure that the intelligence function is performed, not only in a way that keeps us safe, but also in a way that is consistent with our democratic values.

Thus, the intelligence oversight committees have a heavy burden. Unlike other committees which regularly receive citizen input, and are assisted by the scrutiny of the public over "what the government is up to," the intelligence committees must depend on small staffs and input from the very agencies they are charged with overseeing.

Very concerned about Congressional oversight, and very skeptical of the regime of secrecy imposed by the Executive, eh?

Priest's article:

Most of the facilities were built and are maintained with congressionally appropriated funds, but the White House has refused to allow the CIA to brief anyone except the chairman and vice chairman of the House and Senate intelligence committees on the program's generalities.

...

Since [2001], the arrangement has been increasingly debated within the CIA, where considerable concern lingers about the legality, morality and practicality of holding even unrepentant terrorists in such isolation and secrecy, perhaps for the duration of their lives.

Priest's article echoes the same basic concerns as her star source/criminal McCarthy.

Debate is good, but a lot of CIA officials don't seem to grasp that they are employees, subordinates of the President, and while they can have debates and ethical qualms all the doo-dah day, it is the President, and not they, who gets to make the actual decisions.

A salesman at a company may "debate" whether or not his product is priced too high, or whether they're employing the right marketing strategy, but it's the CEO of the company who decides these questions. Often correctly, almost as often incorrectly. But he's still the boss; he has legal powers to decide the course of his company's business the mere employee simply does not. And an employee who forgets this and oversteps his authority is insubordinate and should be fired.

McCarthy, Wilson, Plame, and a bunch of other CIA officers/DNC moles we haven't heard of yet seem to forget that, or at least reject it. They're smarter than Bush, their values are better, and so the fact that Bush is the lawfully elected, constitutionally empowered foreign policy maker of the country is, by their lights, a minor technicality to be worked around.

Thanks to Jack Straw.


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posted by Ace at 12:59 PM

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