Monday, May 15, 2006

Leaks 101

To dispose of all the hot air lately about leaks – partisans on both sides declaring treason by leakers they don’t like, while giving a pass to leakers on their own teams – I will now help you understand whether a leak is good, bad, or just normal.

There are 3 kinds of leaks: whistleblower leaks (good), partisan leaks (business as usual), and abusive leaks (extraordinary and bad).

Whistleblower leaks are leaks of any government information, classified or not, that reveals improper or illegal conduct by the government that is being hidden from the public. The leaker may have to break a law in revealing their evidence of lawbreaking activity by others. Such whistleblower activity is fully justified and proportionate, and should be celebrated as a patriotic effort to defend the integrity of our government. It serves to enhance government transparency and accountability, two key requirements of good governance in the 21st century that we should absolutely demand of our government.

Partisan leaks are disclosures of unclassified government information for the purpose of tactical political advantage. While such leaks may not be admirable, they are utterly routine under any administration, and those who expend their breath deploring them are wasting their time and are most likely hypocrites who look the other way when their own guys do it. Everybody’s always done it, and everybody will continue to do it. It’s human nature, and it’s part of the mechanics of power. It’s just the way the game is played.

Abusive leaks are leaks intended to cover up or protect questionable or illegal activities by inflicting damage on political opponents. The key example is the attempt to damage the reputation of a whistleblower. Such leaks show a wretched disregard for both the law and the responsible limits of the political game. Worst of all are (highly unusual) leaks of classified government information for such purposes. This is the very definition of the abuse of power. If someone in your local government, or your workplace, or your posse, is exposed acting in like manner, you’ll say that person is a scumbag. Those who undertake such leaks have no place in the national leadership. They hurt our nation’s reputation and they damage the trust between the governed and their government.

Whistleblower leak: Joseph Wilson exposing Niger yellowcake uranium lies told by President Bush while he made the case for making war upon Iraq.

Partisan leak: too numerous to count. The cost of doing government business.

Abusive leak: Cheney, Rove, Libby, et al illegally exposing the classified identity of Joseph Wilson’s CIA operative wife in an effort at payback, undermining his story, and silencing similar voices.

So just remember: when you hear somebody spouting about a leak, refer to this handy guide and decide for yourself whether the speaker is correct, or just a windbag, or defending the indefensible.

Monday, May 08, 2006

This government is an abomination.

I woke up on fire and started writing. Looking at my words again, I still haven't thought better of them. So here is my letter to the editor, of what publication I know not.

I think you would be surprised at how many millions of Americans share the perspective I would like to share with you now.

I love my country and our constitution passionately. But...

I would not be going far enough in describing our present evolution if I were merely to say that the present administration is a nasty blot on our history.

This government is an abomination.

Both parties are parasites.

The greed and corruption of the people who hold the large measure of wealth and the political keys in our country are a disgrace upon their heads.

The military-industrial-"intelligence" complex has grown into the ruin of us all.

Washington DC is a howling vortex of bad karma. Responsibility has vacated.

With every passing day, we look more like a resurrected Babylon, or the declining Roman Empire.

For expedience, I am willing for a while longer to throw my support to the hollowed-out husk of the Democratic Party. But...

Before our national treasure, our climate, our hydrocarbons, our middle class, our civility, the last ounce of our prestige, and our ability to dream and deliver are gone...

We need to drop our illusions and distractions, and we need to start imagining, together. Then we need to act.

We need a vision of a nation 300 million strong that Thomas Jefferson, Chief Joseph, Walt Whitman, and Rosa Parks would anoint with their blessings.

We must melt the structures of power that are hardened and strangling us, and we must replace them. Renewing ourselves, it comes down to this:

Collectively, we must ensure that all are given the capability to flourish, and then left to their freedom. We must now dream, then build, a new United States government that helps us do that, and does nothing more. That is all.