November 21, 2005

Do You Have Prince Alberto In a Can?

Hatched by Dafydd

Paul over at Power Line poses a fascinating question -- in subtext -- in a recent post:

How does the CIA protect its turf so well? Its skill in the art of the leak must play a major role. For one thing, this skill helps explain how the agency exerts so much control over those in the mainstream media who cover it.

The subtextual question is, of course, what to do about this?

My suggestion is that the Bush administration must realize that this is a terribly dangerous situation: at a time of national danger, when we are at war, the CIA has become a rogue agency, uncontrolled by any branch of the federal government. It conducts its own foreign policy; it dictates military policy (through control of the intelligence the Department of Defense needs); it has seized control of a significant portion of the powers of the elected Executive.

It's time to fight back... and best and quickest way to do so would be for President Bush to direct Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to immediately begin Justice Department investigations of this rash of recent leaks from the CIA, including the decision to allow Joe Wilson to go public with his lying claims in the New York Times about "what [he] didn't find" in Niger; the leak about the previously secret prison facilities for terrorists; and so forth.

Reporters should be subpoenaed; if they refuse to testify, put them in jail for contempt until they do. Use the full powers of the Patriot Act to seize records and find out who is doing the leaking. And then drop the hammer on them: prosecute them for misuse of classified information or even worse criminal violations. At the very least, get enough evidence to strip them of their security clearances... make it plain that leaking to the press to damage the administration is a career-terminating offense and might even lead to prison time.

Also, be sure to widely publicize the names of leakers as soon as you dredge them up. These people rely upon anonymity; if word gets around that whatever you tell Harry ends up in a Walter Pinkus column tomorrow, the leakers will be shunned by many of the folks who have unwittingly been helping them funnel damaging information to the mainstream leftist media.

Bush can do all of this without Congress lifting a finger. He can do it over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, and he doesn't need any votes from the Democrats. The press will scream; but if Bush were to demand time to give a short speech for broadcast and explain his reasons to the American people, I think they would not only back him, they would applaud lustily: "My fellow Americans, this constant stream of political leaks from the CIA has just got to stop... for God's sake, we're in a war! It's time for the Central Intelligence Agency to get out of politics and back to their actual job: gathering intelligence on our enemies, not leaking stories to the press."

This speech should be delivered with CIA Director Porter Goss at Bush's side; Goss should take over and give a few more details about what has been happening -- specific examples, so people understand the stakes. Then Goss should say he is behind the president's decision 100%... "I don't want to run an agency full of Machiavellian agents who leak classified intelligence for their own political purposes. I intend to preside over an agency with one and only one focus: gathering intelligence about our enemies, so we can use it against them."

Come on, Bush... this is a fight you can win, and one that will endear you not only to the base, but also to average Americans across the country who are uncomfortable and angry that so much classified information is readily available in the newspapers for terrorists to read. This isn't a new problem, but it's a solvable problem.

But so long as "good people do nothing," evil will triumph.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 21, 2005, at the time of 1:42 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Dafydd, I couldn't agree with you more. Criminals should be treated like criminals, period, and traitors should be treated like traitors. At the CIA, and in the MSM, we're dealing with both. Jail's too good for the SOBs but I guess that's the best we can hope for. GWB has shown some major signs recently of finally having grown a pair and being ready to start fighting back; let's hope that extends to following your advice.

I've quoted you and linked to your post at Time to crack down hard on the CIA?

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 4:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: Pete

BRAVO! Extending immunity to leakers and anonymous sources seems to reduce far less mischief than it creates. People, including bureaucrats and MSM, must be held accountable first to truth.

The above hissed in response by: Pete [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 7:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: a Duoist

Early this week Michael Barone finally came to agree with former Senator Moynihan (of 'benign neglect' fame) that the C.I.A. should be abolished. The reasons are too numerous to count, and not one of them includes political 'links.'

Even though the C.I.A. is a Truman era creation, only the Republicans are going to be able to bring this agency under some kind of small-'r' republican, small-'d' democratic control.

Disband it. Put all the eggheads into uniform, where there already is considerable direct Congressional oversight and transparency in budgeting.

The sooner, the better.

The above hissed in response by: a Duoist [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 2:03 AM

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