Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Let's Talk about What Was Leaked

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Let's Talk about What Was Leaked

Article excerpt

Before new press secretary Tony Snow became the latest bit of window dressing to distract the Washington press corps and stir more speculation about what might turn the Bush administration's fortunes to the better, there was a less tidy but more telling story that had worked its way through several days of news cycles. It was the story about Mary McCarthy, the CIA employee who was fired, reportedly for leaking information about secret U.S. prisons run by the CIA overseas.

The story, as it was largely portrayed, was about whether McCarthy was the one who leaked the information; whether she violated the law; whether the firing was fair.

All legitimate points, even important, especially to the person being disciplined by the CIA.

But what kept getting buried beneath all of those question was the content of what was leaked to the Washington Post reporters and research team that ultimately won a Pulitzer prize for their work: that the United States was holding suspected terrorists in secret prisons run by the CIA in Eastern Europe and elsewhere overseas, where they were likely being tortured.

We hope if McCarthy did not leak the information, that she is somehow quickly exonerated and that justice is done.

Whatever the case, we are still left with leaked information and the question of whether we are all better off for that knowledge. If we are, if knowing that our country operates secret prisons is information that the populace has a right to know, then questions of who leaked and whether they broke the rules becomes secondary. Because if we agree that knowing about secret prisons is better than not knowing, then we are left to deal with the actions of someone who thinks some things are too important to keep secret regardless of what the rules say, or of the consequences for breaking them.

Isn't national security jeopardized to a greater degree by those who would make their own laws and stoop to the tactics of rogue regimes than by those who shine the light on breaches of our commonly held sense of human rights? …

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