August 08, 2004

Loose Lips Sink Ships


Compromising National Security? IOKIYAR!
It's OK If You're a Republican!

(Image credit: Steve Jackson Games)

Atrios has a saying that comes in handy all the time: It's OK If You're a Republican (IOKIYAR). It's a simple philosophy that explains so much of the behavior of the mainstream media and Republicans in general. It explains, for example, why the media (and the 101st Fighting Warbloggers and the rest of the ConservaBorg) have gone off the deep end talking about Sandy Berger taking (and then returning) copies of classified documents from the national archives while ignoring major security leaks by conservatives and members of the Bush Administration.

Now, I can't honestly say I know the significance of what Berger did. It is entirely possible that he did something really bad, and I trust the non-partisan prosecutors at, uh, the Justice Depart-, uh, well, ummmm, let's just hope they keep it fair for the guy, you know? But why go nuts over Sandy Berger (the fake theory that he stuffed documents in his socks, for example, is now a part of the conventional wisdom, kind of like the idea that Al Gore said he invented the internet and so on) while ignoring the Plame scandal. And there may be stuff much worse than that on the horizon, just to tick off a couple of relatively recent examples...

There's the case of Richard Shelby, a Republican formerly on the Senate Intelligence Committee (he was rotated off recently). Follow the link for the longer version of the story, thanks to Digby. It appears that Shelby leaked the contents of some classified messages intercepted prior to 9/11, and he's been busted.

From what I can tell, it looks like the Justice Department was told "hands off" on this one, and they were asked to refer it back to the Republican-controlled Ethics Committee for an Official Slap on the Wrist. Someone at Justice, probably a career non-partisan prosecutor, decided to talk about the investigation so that at least this story didn't get buried. I wonder if Shelby will get any kind of punishment? I wonder if he's in line for any kind of criticism or ridicule at the hands of the ConservaBorg out there?

I wonder if I can be any more sarcastic.

Here's another leak story from Juan Cole. Apparently, in order to justify the latest terror alert, the Bush Administration outed an al-Qaeda double agent, which pissed off the British (who had to scramble to arrest suspects before they were tipped off). All of this could've been avoided had the administration quietly tightened security around what they considered to be vulnerable spots rather than trying to scare the hell out of everyone publicly. The British think we're pretty stupid putting our alerts out in public, but then, the British don't need to worry about distracting the press on demand with an election coming up, do they? Lambert over at Corrente (another excellent tag-team blog) has a good analysis of the whole thing, too.

Oh, and one other thing definitely worth a look (from First Draft). Bush-supporters love to talk about how they were so thankful that Bush was in office to lead us after 9/11. They wonder what would've happened had Bush not been in charge, if Gore had been president. Well, here's a handy little chart giving you an idea of how the War on Terror might have been fought a little differently (a lot of these ideas are proposals Gore made before and/or after 9/11), how the $144 billion we've spent so far in Iraq might have been used to do some good. For people who tend to think "a pox on both your houses" or that either candidate would be equally crappy if elected or what have you, this chart should be required reading.

Posted by Observer at August 8, 2004 10:01 AM
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Over at The Sideshow, Avedon Carol made a good point about public warnings and so forth:

"See, my problem is that the sheer stupidity starts with announcing anything rather than quietly investigating. We don't need the government to tell us there might be terrorists plotting terror; we need them to shut up and stop the terrorists. They can't do that if they are giving press conferences about it - it can only hamper their efforts.

If, indeed, they are making any such efforts, which is questionable. These terror alerts have no purpose other than to keep generating fear. They don't protect us. They're just smoke. They exist to help George Bush's campaign.

I don't understand why this isn't obvious to people. We didn't have terror alerts throwing everyone into a panic in 1999 when the Clinton administration knew there was a Millennium plot. They just very quietly made sure it didn't happen. They were able to do that because they kept their mouths shut."

Posted by: Observer on August 8, 2004 09:48 PM