Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Take Your Mama Out

The first of these David Frum pieces needs something saying about it. The second made me splutter somewhat.

For Christ's sake, Paul! Can you not see?! I am having a nervous breakdown!

Frum is critical of the leaks that have been emerging recently from the US security community. He may well be right to be critical. Lives are, as he points out, on the line in some of these circumstances.

On top of this, my personal stance is that if an issue is serious enough to justify leaks it's probably serious enough to justify resignation. See Michael's comments here for more. And perhaps bear in mind your McMaster. It's fairly clear that fairly large numbers of people within both the uniformed forces and the intelligence community are cheesed off enough to leak. Imagine the impact of a mass resignation. Rather higher, no? And rather more honourable. But it does, on the other hand, require rather more sacrifice.

But, and it's a big but...

That said, it is I believe widely accepted among those who study these things that leaks are not an inevitability but frequently come tied into a certain culture within government. This is the culture in which the professional civil servant is made to feel that he cannot do his job - which is, namely, to speak truth to power - without having a ton of shit heaped upon him. Leaks tend to occur when opinions contrary to the "party line" are suppressed internally - not merely rejected after open and vigorous debate, suppressed. In other words, the sort of environment in which everybody is required to be a True Believer.

Additionally, it has to be said that if these anonymous briefers resigned it would take... ahem... certain sections of the commentariat all of 24 hours to swing into action and launch into a rather unpleasant smear campaign ("X is saying this about Bush administration policy - but let's take a look at this fragment of a memo he sent as a junior case officer 23 years ago..."), which is basically what has greeted (justifiably or not) pretty much every other person who has resigned from the Bush administration with annoyances to vent.


Blogger J. said...

Frum is a pinheaded moron. "The Bush White House is legendarily discreet." Since when??? All through 2002, the White House leaked classified analyses that supported their going to war. Hersh's leakers (and I don't like Hersh) are just low level civil servants that won't get book deals if they resign, so don't expect to see any of those. As for qualifications of Bush appointees, Frum should recognize that loyalty is more important than competence or principles. Who is he kidding??

You have to take Hersh with plenty of salt. As I noted in my blog, he starts with a hypothesis and then looks for facts to support his position. Yet the readers and other journalists love his stuff. Good sources, sensationalistic writing, not accurate though.

7:40 PM  

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