Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mary Mc Carthy and Plastic Morality

By now , everyone has heard the story : Mary Mc Carthy , a long-term veteran at the CIA , has been fired for “leaking” highly classified material to Dana Priest, a star reporter for the Washington Post.

Ms Mc Carthy is not only unemployed ; she is in criminal jeopardy as well – and it is by no means a given that Dana Priestly and her employers are “off the hook” for prosecution under the espionage statutes.

At the moment, a Republican administration is in power , and many loyal Democrats are proclaiming (rather vigorously) Mc Carthy should be honored as a “whistleblower” , because some of the material she is said to have leaked made life more difficult for the Administration.

Some of her supporters suggest she had a “moral duty” to violate the stringent terms of her employment –and the espionage laws : a duty that transcends mere statutes and regulations. Some have even suggested that anyone who believes otherwise is on the road to becoming “ a good little Nazi”.

I have a suspicion many of those who presently extol the lady’s virtues might be cursing her - if Democrats occupied the White House ; but I could be wrong.

It’s hard to predict reactions in an age of “plastic morality”.

In many parts of our country , people who feel a high sense of moral obligation towards animals have bombed facilities that conduct animal research , vandalized the cars and homes of research employees,and conducted acts of criminal harassment.

On both coasts, other people who feel halting development is a highly moral act ,have burned down SUV dealerships, spiked trees in an effort to injure lumberjacks, burned down homes under construction, and have even fire-bombed a spring water bottling plant.

In the year 2001, a microbiologist (and friends) exercised their highly developed “morality” by sending Anthrax through the mail to “punish” America for its sins. (They had the good sense to suggest al-Qaeda might have done it – and loyal supporters willing to lay false trails for the FBI to follow ; but a day of reckoning will come…)

Politicians from all major parties have reached out eagerly to accept unclean contributions – forwarded by those who want to promote questionable commercial enterprises ,and welcomed the lobbyists who broker these deals with open arms. They justify betrayal of the public trust by claiming a high moral duty to secure and remain in elective office.

I could go on – and on – until my fingers are too weary to type,and your eyes are too weary to continue reading ; yet , after all was said and done, any one of us might nod approvingly – then go out to do something unspeakable – in the name of a “higher moral purpose”.

Such is the nature of Plastic Morality.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Libby Makes Outrageous Disclosure :Massive Protests Feared !

Lewis “Scooter” Libby made an outrageous disclosure in court papers filed yesterday: claiming – under penalty of perjury – that while President Bush and Vice President Cheney had authorized him to furnish details of the National Intelligence Estimate to New York Times reporter Judith Miller (thereby de-classifying the document) , neither the President or the Vice President authorized him to reveal the identity
Of “Secret Agent X-9 ½ “ – otherwise known as Valerie Plame !

Reaction on the Left was swift…. and furious .

“ This is a direct slap in the face to those of us who wanted to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs so he could watch Bush and Cheney being burned at the stake in the Rose Garden ! “, shouted one red-faced Senator.

He was joined at the podium (“elbowed aside” might be a more accurate description ) by a Northern Senator famous for his support of rigid gun-control measures. Yanking a small pistol from his shoulder holster, the Senator shouted “ Let’s get the bastards !”

Not to be outdone, an angry woman Senator from the same state whipped a large caliber automatic from the waistband of her black pantsuit, and screamed : “Power to the People !” ( A spectator remarked : “Gee ! She doesn’t look much like Geena Davis !” )

Impatient members of the Progressive Coalition – some waving guns and machetes – began jostling one another for “face time” before the network cameras ; but ,what might have become a rather nasty confrontation lost momentum, when a large , chanting group of Latino demonstrators – many carrying signs demanding instant citizenship – suddenly arrived on the scene.

Asked by reporters for an explanation of their presence at this late date, a spokesperson shrugged and said the contingent had been delayed
because of poor planning by some of the Marxist organizers. “ We were supposed to come here by bus, but wound up having to walk , because the Organizers traded our tickets for some Guatemalan weed.”

The Senators, outflanked by the demonstrators (who were,to be fair, receiving most of the media attention) sulked off in high dudgeon :one calling over his shoulder: “ You haven’t seen the last of us ! “

Contacted later in the day, the White House refused to comment :
thereby reinforcing Media belief they must be trying to hide something.

Monday, April 10, 2006

April Morning Reverie – or-

An Imaginary Conversation with Seymour Hersh

It’s a beautiful April morning , and I’d like to sit out back and enjoy it: (at my age, you never know if you’ll see another Spring) ; but I’ve got other things on my mind.

I find myself engaging in an imaginary conversation with “investigative reporter”, Seymour Hersh.

Me: Good morning, Mr. Hersh .

SH: (Expansively) Call me Sy. Everyone else does – and this IS an imaginary conversation.

Me: The Iran article of yours in The New Yorker created quite a stir.

SH: Which one ? The one back in 2005 about secret commandos operating in Iran, or the latest one about bombing Iran ?

Me: Both, actually. That 2005 article sort of surprised me: I hear the Iranians had their military and their secret police out combing the hills, searching for those commandos…

SH: What’s surprising about that ? I gave them everything but the GPS coordinates , but the Iranians were just incompetent !

Me: You wanted our people to be caught ?

SH: I just wanted the you-know-what to hit the fan , so that that evil bastard Rumsfeld, and that insane neo-con Death Cult in the White House could be swept from office.

Me: Ah, How about this latest story – about how we’re going to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iraq ? I believe you suggested we might use nuclear weapons ?

SH: What of it ?

Me: Well, it occurs to me we have about 120,000 of our troops in harm’s way, if Iran should decide to pre-empt this pre-emption you wrote about…

SH: And ?

Me: According to my notes, Iran has 350,000 in its army,about 20,000 in the navy, and about the same number in its air force/ missile forces.
It has a hefty inventory of missiles that could reach Iraq , a robust chemical warfare capability, and a small-but-advanced biowarfare capability.

SH: Your point being ?

Me: Since Iran actually reads your articles , and apparently takes them seriously, aren’t you deliberately putting American lives at risk by reporting a story the Administration and the British Government say is totally ridiculous ?

SH: (Heatedly) American lives would not be at risk if there were no Americans in Iraq in the first place !

Me: How about the claim your stories are …less than factual ?

SH: That’s outrageous ! Who has made such a claim ?

Me: Funny you should ask ! I’ve got one right here:

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131 Public contact:
or +1 (703) 428-0711

No. 046-05
IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 17, 2005

Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Lawrence DiRita on Latest Seymour Hersh Article

The Iranian regime’s apparent nuclear ambitions and its demonstrated support for terrorist organizations is a global challenge that deserves much more serious treatment than Seymour Hersh provides in the New Yorker article titled “The Coming Wars.”

Mr. Hersh’s article is so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed.

Mr. Hersh’s source(s) feed him with rumor, innuendo, and assertions about meetings that never happened, programs that do not exist, and statements by officials that were never made.

A sampling from this article alone includes:

 The post-election meeting he describes between the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not happen.
 The only civilians in the chain-of-command are the President and the Secretary of Defense, despite Mr. Hersh’s confident assertion that the chain of command now includes two Department policy officials. His assertion is outrageous, and constitutionally specious.
 Arrangements Mr. Hersh alleges between Under Secretary Douglas Feith and Israel, government or non-government, do not exist. Here, Mr. Hersh is building on links created by the soft bigotry of some conspiracy theorists. This reflects poorly on Mr. Hersh and the New Yorker.
 Mr. Hersh cannot even keep track of his own wanderings. At one point in his article, he makes the outlandish assertion that the military operations he describes are so secret that the operations are being kept secret even from U.S. military Combatant Commanders. Mr. Hersh later states, though, that the locus of this super-secret activity is at the U.S. Central Command headquarters, evidently without the knowledge of the commander if Mr. Hersh is to be believed.

By his own admission, Mr. Hersh evidently is working on an “alternative history” novel. He is well along in that work, given the high quality of “alternative present” that he has developed in several recent articles.
Mr. Hersh’s preference for single, anonymous, unofficial sources for his most fantastic claims makes it difficult to parse his discussion of Defense Department operations.

Finally, the views and policies Mr. Hersh ascribes to Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, Under Secretary Feith, and other Department of Defense officials do not reflect their public or private comments or administration policy.

Me: Then there was that “expose” you did on the Jack Kennedy – you know: the involvement with Marilyn Monroe, the ties to the Mafia,and the chapters your publisher had to pull-because they were based on forged documents .

New York magazine did quite a “hit piece” on you – I’ve got a link to it somewhere or other – Here it is !

Me: So tell me, Sy: why on earth should anyone with half a brain believe your stories on Iran ?

SH: That’s MISTER HERSH to you ,smart-ass ! I’m outa here !

Me: Thank God for small favors !

Hey ! Look at those apple blossoms ! It’s a fine April morning again .

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Associated Press : Smear and Run Tactics ?

Much of what you read in your daily newspaper,or see on TV,comes from the Associated Press.

Once upon a time, the “AP” symbol at the beginning of a news story meant the story you were about to read was reasonably accurate,and reasonably free of political bias. Today, quite the opposite seems true !

Let’s look at a story that appeared in newspapers all over America this morning. “Fair Use” rules permit the quoting of one or two sentences, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.


WASHINGTON - President Bush and Vice – President Dick Cheney authorized Cheney’s to aide to launch a counterattack of leaks against administration critics on Iraq by feeding intelligence information to reporters,according to court papers citing the aide’s testimony in the CIA leak case.

The article adds : “…the prosecutor,detailing the evidence he has gathered, raised the possibility that the vice-president was trying to use Plame’s CIA employment to discredit her husband,administration critic Joseph Wilson. “


The Prosecutor raised no such possibility ! Unlike the AP reporter,he has been extremely careful to avoid making such irresponsible statements ; careful to avoid this sort of partisan speculation.

The AP did not see fit to disclose the fact that much of the information given to the NY Times reporter was already in the public domain , or that the full text of the National Intelligence Estimate (minus a few redactions) was made public a few days later.

The AP reporter,in a word, was speculating – but refrained from making that clear : thus insuring that millions of Americans would read an editorial – masquerading as news.

This is hardly an isolated occurrence. The AP website showed the following headline and lede this morning:

Immigration Deal Held Up Over Amendments

By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A Senate breakthrough on an immigration bill praised by leaders in both parties appeared endangered by partisan bickering over amendments from opponents.

Please note the use of the term “partisan bickering”- which apparently means “Republican resistance” to the AP writer. When the story appeared earlier this morning, it was accompanied by a photo of Senate Majority Leader Frist –gesturing with an upraised arm – next to the words “partisan bickering”.

A few days ago, the AP ran a big story about a Department of Homeland Security employee who had been arrested as the result of an Internet sting, after soliciting sex from someone he thought was a 14 year old girl.

AP “suggested ” the suspect was a political appointee,and that his arrest was yet one more embarrassment for a “troubled administration”.

Assorted left wing posters were having a field day with the story, until it was learned the man was not a political appointee, that he was a recent civil service hire, that he had previously worked as a staffer for Time,
that he was a loyal Democrat and a Kerry / Move On supporter.

The AP did not bother to report any of that. They had already pulled what looked very much like a “ smear and run” attack.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I see similar incidents on an almost daily basis – (example: If a Bush administration member introduces a program, it is usually headlined as So-and-So defends new program-even when the accompanying story shows no one actually attacking the proposal ) – it’s clear to me the Associated Press has definitely moved away from the notion of impartial news-gathering.

I can’t help but wonder if AP stands for “Alarmingly Partisan” .