The Dec. 1 edition of The New York Times carried a story about the damage done to U.S. interests by the revelation that the CIA maintains a number of secret interrogation prisons for terrorists in Europe and elsewhere. ("Reports of Secret U.S. Prisons in Europe Draw Ire and Otherwise Red Faces.") Governments throughout the continent are now demanding explanations from the U.S. Department of State and otherwise strutting their outrage that the U.S. might be kidnapping suspected terrorists from European soil and transferring them to other nations.
How did this bit of classified information become public? It was a leak from within the CIA (to The Washington Post in that case) -- and a breathtaking one at that. Though the agency has been steadily leaking damaging stories about the Bush administration since 9/11, it has now crossed a new threshold with a leak that severely damages CIA activities and arguably harms national security -- all for the sake of crippling George W. Bush.
Most people outside the Beltway, as well as many within it, still think of the CIA as the home of swashbuckling hardliners who break all the rules in order to advance America's national interests. Not in this century. As attorney and former counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee Victoria Toensing put it, "Derring-do is dead." When she interviewed a CIA station chief in a major country, he bragged about the diversity of his operatives rather than their accomplishments. Political correctness reigns in the U.S. government at every level, and the CIA is no exception. The result is an agency that is conducting a steady leak campaign against President Bush designed to discredit the Iraq war and undermine the war on terror.