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CIA Operative Detained in Pakistan

Despite howls of protest over the Valerie Plame controversy, liberal pundits don't seem to care when another CIA agent is in real jeopardy.

3:05 PM, Mar 3, 2011 • By JAMES KIRCHICK
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On February 21, in an article revealing Davis’s employment, the New York Times admitted that it had heeded the government’s request. For that decision it incurred the wrath of Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, one of the most active floggers of the Plame/Wilson “scandal,” who labeled the Times “an active enabler of government propaganda.”

In 2005, Greenwald wrote that “In disclosing to reporters the classified information of Plame's CIA employment, what [former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney Scooter] Libby did was wrong and almost certainly illegal.” Yet Greenwald has lauded Bradley Manning, the private alleged to have leaked thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks, as a hero, and chides any American news organization that even hesitate to reveal Davis’s identity.

What’s also telling is the silence from the legions of people in the media, blogosphere, and the halls of Congress, who clamored for the heads of Bush administration officials whom they accused of leaking Valerie Plame’s identity but have had absolutely nothing to say about the truly perilous situation in which Raymond Davis now finds himself. The Pakistani justice system is hardly an exemplar of responsible jurisprudence, and it’s entirely possible that a court may unjustly punish Davis as a concession to the anti-American mob. But because Davis was working in pursuit of foreign policy objectives unpopular with the left, and not undermining them, liberals have decided to ignore his plight.

The revelation of Davis’s CIA ties, made while he’s sitting in a Pakistani prison, has put him in far more serious danger than anything ever experienced by Valerie Plame, who’s “outing” led to a glamorous photo-spread in Vanity Fair, a book deal, and a movie starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Plame’s exposure might have ended her career with the CIA (albeit, just the covert aspect; she was perfectly able to continue working as a non-covert officer and didn’t quit the agency until more than 2 years after the Robert Novak column in which her name appeared was published). But it certainly didn’t hurt her pocketbook.

Last week, Times public editor Arthur Brisbane defended his paper’s decision to conceal the information. “In military affairs, there is a calculus that balances the loss of life against the gain of an objective. In journalism, though, there is no equivalent. Editors don’t have the standing to make a judgment that a story — any story — is worth a life.”

His newspaper was one of the most vociferous pushers of the Plame non-scandal. Its editorial board reveled in the conviction of Scooter Libby, urging the judge who issued the sentence to “send him to jail now as a lesson that such efforts to frustrate justice will not be tolerated.” And it accused Karl Rove of “peddling disinformation for propaganda purposes.” Thus far, the editorial board has had nothing to say about Davis.

The Times and many other figures in the media displayed no shortage of indignation over the compromising of Valerie Plame’s identity, in what ultimately proved to be a political controversy. Apparently, those principles evaporate when there’s no Bush administration to attack, and a CIA officer’s life is actually at stake.

James Kirchick is writer at large with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and a contributing editor to The New Republic

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