Thursday, November 03, 2005

Zell speaks: We need a new Rule

I've come to think quite a bit of Zell Miller and I've written about him before on these pages. He and I don't agree on everything but his approach and his manner of speaking plainly are things I admire greatly. So today I'd like to link to his article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on his take on a new rule we need: the Plame Rule.

But the rules on agents are clear. They can't purposely distort gathered intelligence, go public with secret information or use their position or information to manipulate domestic elections or matters without risking their job or jail.

But their spouse can!

The agent realizes her spouse can go out on behalf of the spy agency, can distort information, go public with classified information and use all this spy-agency-sponsored material and credentials to try to pull down the current government, and it is all perfectly legal.

Suppose the spouse adds just one more brilliant, well-aimed lie: claim your foremost political opponent put the spouse up to the trip. As your spouse uses your agency's name to mount attacks, your enemy may fall into your trap. Will your enemy suffer your spouse's lies or take the bait and try to clarify his non-role? If he tells the press he didn't hire your spouse, the press will demand to know, "Then who did?"

Instead of you violating secrecy laws, it is your victim who is guilty because he tried to set the record straight. Heads, you win; tails, he loses.

Exactly correct. As a holder of a security clearance and a former contractor working on IT projects for certain 3-letter organizations in Washington, DC I can tell you emphatically that there are rules in place precluding me from writing about the activities of those agencies without a thorough vetting process. Failure to abide by those rules would, I assure you, have negative impacts on my freedoms. Valerie Wilson has the same rules in place over her, but it seems pretty clear that someone, if not Wilson herself, discovered a way around it. Power Line has a recent post that asks a whole bunch of very pertinent questions along these lines. The questions about why a person with no serious intel background was sent at all, let alone without the standard NDA's signed and the standard strictures on publishing on the matter, are especially pointed. As Zell Miller points out, however, our media aren't interested in pursuing that line of inquiry at all. One wonders why.