Dick Cheney is dead wrong, Julian Assange is dead wrong

Former Vice President Cheney is promoting his book and still defending Scooter Libby over the CIA leak case. WikiLeaks has just published a new edition of leaked documents escalating their naming of names of sources in diplomatic cables. They are both dead wrong.

Let me begin with this. The original law that made it a crime to “name names” was the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Its original sponsor was my boss at the time, then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. I spent six years working on that bill and dealt for many years, at length and in depth, with U.S. and allied intelligence services on a wide range of matters both public and classified.


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Virtually every employee of virtually every allied intelligence service believed the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity was the equivalent of a mortal sin. Whatever one believes about the Iraq war, the leaking of identities endangers the real lives of courageous men and women.

Dick Cheney is wrong. Scooter Libby was wrong. And if Cheney is right (and he almost certainly is about this) that Richard Armitage was also an identities leaker, then he should have been prosecuted as well.

My views on this matter are long-term, strongly held and based on experience. They are also consistent, to wit:

The latest WikiLeaks leak that names names of foreign sources is reprehensible in the extreme. To generalize fairly, if a foreign source opposed to a dictatorship confides in the U.S. government, and his (or her) identity is leaked (which WikiLeaks does), their very lives are put in danger.

I would like to see conservatives have the integrity to criticize Cheney and Libby for their leaks, and I would like to see liberals have the integrity to criticize WikiLeaks for their leaks that compromise and endanger heroic men and women fighting for freedom against dictatorship.

Cheney and Libby were dead wrong in justifying the naming of names. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are dead wrong in justifying their naming of names.

This is not about politics. It is about integrity, honor, defending our security and protecting men and women of courage who deserve better than they get from Cheney, Libby, Assange, WikiLeaks and apologists for any of them.