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Eyes on the Prize (Update)

Among the winners of the Pulitzer Prizes this year were Dana Priest, Eric Lichtblau and James Risen; reporters whose most recent claim to fame is that they revealed the existence of highly classified and very sensitive intelligence programs to a miraculously un-indignant public and a very grateful cadre of terrorists.

When questioned about the righteousness (sanity?) of their reporting, most offer up the old chestnut of how the press is duty bound to reveal the misdeeds of the government; watching the watchers as it were. Short shrift is given to the fact that revealing the existence of such information is a crime that the leaker has committed and the reporter has abetted.

What is often forgotten in this discussion is the duty that the leakers themselves have to truth, justice, and the American way. In reality, there is only one thing that government employees are duty bound to do if they feel that they are a party to something that is a violation of the Constitution and derived law: report it through the system. This means talking to your boss, your boss’s boss, the Inspector General, and perhaps eventually Congress. You may not be happy with the end result, but you can rest assured that you have done your duty.

Should you be dissatisfied with the response of the system, you are now honor bound to do only one thing: resign. I am only aware of one self-professed leaker related to the aforementioned reporters who is no longer in government employ, though his departure was apparently involuntary and not related to his disclosures. I presume that the rest are still safely (?) cloistered away in a SCIF somewhere, waiting for their next coffee klatch with Joseph’s latest anointed ones.

The path of one who speaks out against any system, much less the intelligence system, is not an easy one. You can expect to be discriminated against, insulted, demeaned, belittled and generally given as rough a time as possible without actually having an orifice violated. You’ll probably suffer health problems and whatever buckets of s*** that ‘the man’ throws on you will probably splatter onto your family in some form or another. That’s the nature of the beast: it wouldn’t be called “duty” if it was going to be a cake walk; it isn’t “honorable” if you have to go about it clandestinely.

While Priest, Lichtblau and Risen bask in the glow of their prizes, one wonders what their sources are getting out of the deal. The fact that the prize for their actions is a long, all-expense-paid sabbatical to think about the meaning of life is no doubt on their minds, but anyone who has spent more than a minute in DC knows they’re angling for prizes that don’t come with dinner, a speech at a dais, and the applause of your peers. Like one of the most famous leakers of modern times, their actions are less about doing what is right than it is doing what is right for them.

I’m not sure what you call that, but it isn’t “duty” and it isn’t “honor.”

(Update) I guess we’re going to find out soon enough: CNN & Fox both reporting that a CIA officer was fired for leaking. Text reports don’t say for what exactly, but CNN broadcast is saying it is related to the Priest-CIA Prison story.

AJ Strata and Michelle Malkin have a little more.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.