Friday, February 23, 2007

A Time For Heroes

Christy at FDL makes the very simple but good point that 'of course' Plame was covert and explains why this is obvious to anyone without an interest in obfuscating this fact. She goes on to say something dear to my heart (and which I've written about before but can't locate... yet) about how there is something that each of us can do: "Today, stand up and be the hero that your nation needs you to be".
[Y]esterday, Dana Priest had a very interesting chat on the WaPo regarding national security issues. In the middle of the chat, she was asked a question about the Libby case and the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name, and had this to say (H/T to allan_in_upstate and LaFourmiRouge for the heads up on this.):

Pauling, N.Y.: Is it possible that Valerie Plame was covert but would not be covered by the IIPA? Why is it that no government official will comment about Ms. Wilson's employment and covered status?

Dana Priest: Because she was covert! No, she's covered. If she were not, you could not have this trial in the first place.

And there, with the simplicity of a three sentence response, Dana Priest says what ought to be obvious to any thinking person who has ever worked around anyone who is undercover in any way. The CIA referral would have gone nowhere, very quickly, with the DoJ had Valerie Plame Wilson not been covert. In fact, the referral would never have been made in the first place. But the fact that John Ashcroft, partisan Attorney General that he was, allowed an investigation to be opened — and followed through on by the FBI for months and months under his supervision, before passing it off to an appointed Special Counsel pretty much says it all in terms of substance as to the reason for a referral in the first place.

The fact that Valerie Plame Wilson and those working with her either as fellow agents, assets, or even innocents who happened to travel with her on what they thought were simply ordinary business trips, but are now connected with the CIA in the minds of external intel agencies in any country in which she and they may have travelled…and it just keeps rippling outward from there…were exposed by the very government that ought to have held their secrets as closely as they possibly could? By their OWN government — at the highest levels?

The betrayal in this act of vengeance is breathtaking in its scope — and its stupidity.

But the repercussions of this conduct? Not just of revealing Valerie Plame Wilson and her network, but across the broad spectrum of intelligence agencies and people who work in them over the last six years of Bush Administration pressures, of Dick Cheney demanding intel to fit his warped world view, of the war between the WHIG and the CIA, of all of this — the repercussions are enormous. The losses that the intelligence community has seen of experienced field officers, of experienced analysts with a commitment to do the job well, has been staggering.

And the cost to our nation's safety as a result of these losses? There is a cost, and one that will not easily be paid back because the years of training and work that go into achieving that level of proficiency in a job which requires a high level of integrity and skill and understanding is not easily won back in a short term. And the fact that political cronies may be doing the recruiting for the very people we so desperately need to fill these jobs — in an environment of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush's making? You'll have to pardon me if I do not feel comfortable with where this may lead us.

And this is true across the board in a lot of civil service jobs in Washington, DC. I have heard this from countless readers and friends and current and former officials and peons — to a person — that there has been a concerted effort to decimate the collective understanding of how to make government work in the public name of efficiency. But privately, it has resulted in the insertion of political cronies at all levels and facets of government service, which has in turn resulted in the insertion of political hackery, cronyism and ideological zeal into decisions as diverse as research grants at the NIH or environmental policy or no-bid contracts that have resulted in vast profit schemes and war profiteering.

All of which has been allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged for far too long by the Republicans who controlled Congress.

This is a time for heroes. I selected the clip of the West Wing above for a very good reason. This is one of my favorite Jed Bartlett moments, and it comes at the end of an emotionally difficult episode — and truly shows the difference that some uplift and a call to the service of your fellow citizens when the nation most needs you to take action can mean for us as a nation. The actions of one person, in the right place at the right time, can change the course of history.

What if you are that person?

This nation of ours needs heroes, now more than ever. Heroism comes in many forms but, for my money, the biggest hero that any of us can be is to be an active, involved, and attentive person who holds both their governmental representatives and themselves accountable for their community, for their nation, and for our place in the world. Today, stand up and be the hero that your nation needs you to be.

I have had enough of self-dealing, backstabbing, short-term-power-grabbing, don't care about anything other than what's in it for me falseness. This is a time when our nation has substantial problems. And it will take all of us — pulling together — to even begin to make a dent. This is a time for true leadership in this nation of ours. But we will not see it, we will continue to get this half-baked, self-dealing idiocy unless and until we all stand up and say "enough!" and demand much better — for ourselves, for our children's sake, and for this nation of ours.

Today, stand up and be the hero that your nation needs you to be. Let us all stand up together. For America. For ourselves and our children and our children's children. For liberty.


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