More on the "spy scandal"


The New York Sun editorializes on what is increasingly looking like a set—up story planted for political reasons. It is

starting to look more and more like another example of criminalizing Washington's policy disputes. The tip—off is that the weirdness started with federal officials leaking information about the investigation before any arrests had been made or charges filed. In a serious espionage case, things tend to work the other way around.

And it may be that in the end this is not about espionage but, if anything, about the mishandling of classified information by a midlevel official. That is also a serious matter, but a less grave one, especially at the end of a week in which Congress held a hearing where a Pentagon official described excessive classification as an 'extensive' problem. It prompted the Washington Post to run an editorial headlined 'Too Much Secrecy.' 

The draft 'national security presidential directive' that the official, Larry Franklin,is accused in anonymous leaks of having given to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was described to us as little more than a wordier version of a Wall Street Journal op—ed piece. If it was secret, it was because of American political sensitivity, not any genuine security concerns. The document may not have been labeled classified at all until some time after it was written, as bureaucrats mulled over what level of secrecy was appropriate.

David Frum, meanwhile, adds,

What a triumph of press manipulation this story is! [....]

The memo in question — a draft of a proposed presidential policy directive for Iran — was essentially rejected. The Bush administration has opted since 2001 for a policy of engagement and attempted compromise with Iran. For all practical purposes, the memo was an expression of something close to a purely personal opinion.

Posted by Ed  8 30 04