Would Downie have felt the same if Americans were leaking information to the Nazis or the Japanese during World War II? Imagine this scenario: A terrorist has information that, if revealed, could save tens of thousands of American lives. But interrogators cannot question him because leaks to the media prevent them from engaging in practices that would pry loose the critical information. Would Downie be defending the "right" of government employees to undermine the security of his country in the aftermath of a preventable attack? Former CIA operative Aldrich Ames went to prison for selling American secrets to the Soviet Union. McCarthy allegedly gave hers away. If she is prosecuted and found guilty, her fate should be no less severe.
This isn't a political game in which a Clinton administration official serves as a mole for the Democrats within a Republican administration and then leaks information that may benefit her party; this is potentially harmful to the nation.
Has politics come to this: that the national security of this country can be compromised for political gain?
In previous wars, traitors were shot or served lengthy prison terms. Now they get fired and the reporter who prints the secrets, possibly damaging her nation, wins prestigious journalism awards. Morality and patriotism appear to have been turned upside down.
CIA Director Porter Goss is known to take leaks seriously. He has called the damage they cause "very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission."
No one can recall a recent example of a CIA employee being unmasked for leaking information to the media, though many have done so. For the safety and security of the country, McCarthy's firing should serve as a warning to anyone who takes an oath to preserve their nation's secrets that they will no longer be able to count on getting away with violating that oath.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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