Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz reviews the flap over Dana Priest's report last week in the Washington Post on the CIA's secret torture chambers. The right attacks her and the Post for having printed the story, as if it were an act of betrayal and compares the unnamed official who leaked the information to Priest to Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and possibly others who outed Valerie Plame. Kurtz cites specifically the ethically challenged bombast William Bennett, who demands outrage and punishment. Problem is these eejits are barking up a false equivalency. The people who outed Valerie Plame committed a crime as part of an effort to supppress the truth and continue to hoodwink the American people about the reasons for war. The sources on torture chambers revealed the existence of places where people kept without any legal rights are brutalized in apparent violation of U.S. law, international law, and basic human rights. (Apparent is operative: see, among others, Jane Mayer's "A Deadly Interrogation" in the November 14 New Yorker.) Well, the hypocritical right is, by definition, irrational.
The left, Kurtz says--here, he is pursuing a false dichotomy--attacks the Post for not naming the countries hosting these torture chambers. The Post and Priest offered mumbo jumbo arguments for not doing so--protecting those nations from attack primary among them. But the arguments don't wash. The countries were named by the Financial Times and other publications. More to the point, why should the Post protect anyone involved in these activities? It has long been a favorite tactic of torturers to work in anonymity because their filthy work can't stand the light, so illuminate them.