Rove/Plame: Left-libs go all Ann Coulter

class=img_thumbleft>The unfolding story of

L'affaire Plame

is interesting for lots of reasons--the way it lays bare the routine workaday complicity of the president's men and the tone-setters in the Beltway press corps, the political quake it could ultimately cause, the prospect that the most reviled and revered political kingmaker in many years could be brought low by what amounts to a fit of personal pique--but it's been grotesque to watch so many left-liberal writers and bloggers take up the logic of the hysterical Ann Coulter right and pronounce a verdict of "treason" on Rove's alleged leaking of news that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA.

What a bunch of overwrought bozos. Let us first recall the provenance of the law that Rove et al. are alleged to have broken. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 is widely believed to have been directed at two or three ventures in particular: the writings of ex-CIA agent Philip Agee, whose 1975 Inside the Company: A CIA Diary was the first tell-all book about the extent of the agency's covert operations; and the magazines CounterSpy and Covert Action Information Bulletin, which specialized in exposing through FOIA and other means the various covert ops the CIA was running around the world. Both Agee and the magazines named a lot of undercover CIA personnel in the process. One, a Greece-based station chief named Richard Welch, was killed as a result.

But the IIPA is a terrible law--the mainstream US intelligence historian Thomas Powers called it "a first step on the road to an Official Secrets Act"--and one the left should not be proud to uphold, even in the name of poking Bush's Brain with a sharp stick. John Rosenberg nails the hypocrisy of the more righteous libs at his Discriminations blog:

What I find most interesting about this [Plame] affair is the--not to put too fine a point on it--hypocrisy, fed by amnesia, of many of those in the scalp-hunting posse. When what became the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was being debated in 1981 and 1982 many of those organizations that are now most vociferous in their condemnation of the leak--a leak David Corn of The Nation, for example, has described as a "thuggish act" and as a "quite ugly and brutish act"--were then calling the proposed legislation evil, wrongheaded, and unconstitutional because it would criminalize the very sort of exposes that have just occurred....

So far as I've seen, however, no one has mentioned the fact that in 1981 and 1982 The Nation was adamantly critical of the legislation under which it now wants people prosecuted. The threat of this legislation was covered too frequently to cite at length, but a good example of the magazine's position is provided by the issue of March 14, 1981, which featured a long denunciation of the proposed bill... In introducing the issue the Nation editors described the proposed legislation as "extremely dubious and dangerous"...

Alex Cockburn's got a great piece about the treason tempest at Counterpunch. But my favorite takedown of the liberal cries of "traitor!" is this little manifesto from the Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers, a student organization at Columbia University. (I found it at Sam Smith's indispensable Undernews digest.)

The Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers condemned what it called "the pathetic left and liberal celebration and hysteria over Karl Rove's alleged outing of Valerie Plame as CIA agent." A Federation spokesperson continued: "The left's vilification of Rove over this issue has sunk its members to the level of the liberals: more interesting in scoring political points than maintaining their political integrity.". . .

Liberals and leftists have taken to their blogs, churning out their most feverish anti-Rove caricatured rhetoric. More self-righteous blogs equated a petty political leak to "treason." "Traitor," screeched, a favorite liberal cyber-masturbatory zone. Rove "betrayed national security," Buzzflash continued, in apparent tribute to the paranoid style of Ann Coulter, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz.

Yet the Federation recalls a time decades ago when revealing the names of CIA and FBI agents was actually something in which the left took pride. These were agencies that subverted democratically elected regimes abroad, aided tyrants, helped harbor Nazis, and bugged dissidents inside and outside of the United States. . . They continue into more recent times, notably with the CIA's demonstrable involvement in crack importation to inner cities and the failed 2002 coup against Venezuela's leftist leader Hugo Chavez.

Amidst the contemptible left-liberal-centrist squawking over Karl Rove's alleged involvement in the Plame affair, the Federation wonders why the left cares so much about the safety, the confidentiality, and the security of employees for an institution that displays repeated contempt for values the left supposedly champions. Plame-like CIA agent "outings" should be far more common, as they were in the heyday of the (apparently forgotten) Covert Action Information Bulletin, which published more than 1,000 CIA agent names. Now, the left co-opts the patriotic framing of the right and declares CIA "outing" a "treasonous" act to score political points. The twilight of its integrity nears. Real-world problems continue as the pundits and the bloggers spread trivial gossip.

If Rove is indeed unmasked as the Plame leaker in the coming weeks, the Federation has announced that it will mail him a $15 award and plaque, honoring him for "potentially disrupting the work of one of the most rogue agencies the world has ever seen."

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