April 23, 2006

Juan Cole's Uninformed Comment

I generally ignore University of Michigan History Professor Juan Cole, who often seems little more than Oliver Willis with a PhD. This morning, however I noticed via Memeorandum a shoddily constructed piece he entitled All Right, Not All Right, and I felt compelled to respond.

Professor Cole's post was one of many that I have seen trying to push the meme that the administration shouldn't penalize those who illegally leak classified information, if they are going to “leak” classified information themselves.

This of course is a valid criticism if true, but what Cole and his center left compatriots consistently and willfully ignore in propping up their strawman argument is the simple, unassailable fact that the President and Vice President (via an update to a Clinton-era Executive order) have the authority to classify and declassify information for both broadcast (widespread media) and narrowcast (targeted, selective media) distribution. Only releases made by those without legal declassification are illegal leaks. Those news releases made with Administration approval, whether broadcast or narrowcast, are 100% legal.

Democrats in general and liberals in particular may not like the fact that the Administration has this legal authority to narrowcast information, but the remedy is simple: win elections. Instead of going this route, however Cole and his merry cohorts try to obfuscate the truth and twist facts.

Need proof? Read on.

Cole's article tries to make comparisons between various "leeks," while keeping the strawman alive that legal narrowcasts of declassified information are the same as illegal leaking of classified information.

He starts by making a claim against White House Advisor Karl Rove:

It IS all right for Bush campaign strategist Karl Rove to leak classified intelligence about the identity of Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative.

A damning charge to be sure, but what does Cole have as proof of his allegations? Nothing it turns out. The MSNBC article he links to says specifically that:

...Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove.

The second link is a self-referential link back to Cole's own site, hardly evidence of any wrongdoing. Cole makes an assertion that he can provide no factual evidence to support. I think this failure to support his charge shows far more about Cole's inability to formulate a valid thesis than it does anything about Karl Rove.

Professor Cole, after failing to make the case against Rove, seems to be making the attempt to exonerate newly-disgraced CIA officer Mary McCarthy:

It is NOT all right for CIA employee Mary McCarthy to leak classified information and blow the whistle on secret torture prisons maintained by the US government in Eastern Europe. (There is disagreement on who the criminals are here, however.)

Here, Cole tries to misdirect his readers. Cole tries to make the outlandish charge that McCarthy had to illegally leak classified information to the Washington Post's Dana Priest on multiple occasions to "expose" what she felt was an illegal act.

But Mary McCarthy worked in the Inspector General's office of the CIA, placing her in the best possible position to legally blow the whistle on any activities by the CIA she may have thought illegal. McCarthy, perhaps more than almost any other officer in the CIA, know what was the legal way to expose information, and what was illegal. She willfully chose to commit a crime when other options were open to her, and for that there is no excuse.

Cole continues:

It is NOT all right for Larry Franklin, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's "go-to" man for Iran at the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia Iran desk to pass classified documents to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which then passed them on to a spy, Naor Gilon, in the Israeli embassy.

Again, Cole seems to have a problem understanding that Franklin cannot legally declassify and pass along information on his own. He then tries to tie Franklins' case to this allegation:

It IS all right for Secretary of State Condi Rice to discuss with AIPAC Middle East operative Steve Rosen some of the same things that were in the documents passed to him and Keith Weissman by Larry Franklin, who is in jail for it.

Once again, as he did above, Cole tries to pass off an unsupported allegation as a fact. Franklin plead guilty. He knows what he did was wrong, and admitted it.

Rosen, trying to keep from facing jail time for his own illegal acts, is trying to do anything at all possible to muddy the waters, and that includes dragging in Secretary of State Rice, former Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, and two others if at all possible. Once again, these are allegations, and unsupported by any evidence. Cole once again proves that the closest he can get to a valid thesis is wishful thinking.

As I stated above, the President and Vice President have the authority to classify and declassify information for both broadcast (widespread media) and narrowcast (targeted, selective media) distribution, and releases made without legal declassification are criminal acts.

I can only hope for his student's sake that Juan Cole is a better history professor than he is a political commentator.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 23, 2006 11:12 AM | TrackBack

Yes, the communists like to change words to fit their lies and deceit. Prisons are "re-education camps'. Reclassification of secret documents by proper authority is a leak; illegal declassification, punishable as a federal crime is hailed as patriotic !

Posted by: Chief RZ at April 23, 2006 01:10 PM

There have been no allegations torture ever occurred at these prisons as reported by Priest and allegedly leaked by McCarthy. Where does Cole get that from? Furthermore, there is no evidence these prisons ever actually existed therefore you can't torture someone at a prison that never existed.

Where the Left's argument can be, and frankly if they want to defend McCarthy it's where it should be, is that since there were no prisons this wasn't a leak so McCarthy is innocent. I don't buy that because I think it points McCarthy to other motives which would not bode well for the Democratic Party, but it doesn't matter really because the Left could never seriously make this argument because they've been crying for months about the alleged existence of these prisons; prisons that as it turns out there is no proof ever existed.

Posted by: Chad Evans at April 23, 2006 01:17 PM

It is a pity that those on the left, despite their elevated educations, can't seem to grasp the difference between legal and illegal actions.

Daily, they prove that they do not believe in right and wrong, but that the ends justify the means.

Posted by: SouthernRoots at April 24, 2006 10:21 AM

Juan Cole is an anti-Semitic buffoon. Nobody disputes that Franklin's activities had nothing to do with any conspiracy or that Wolfowitz (or Feith for that matter) were totally uninvolved: Franklin was not Wolfowitz's go-to guy here anymore than any reader is the "go-to" guy of the manager three levels above them. That Yale is considering hiring this jerk may not even indicate that anti-Zionist, anti-Semititic cabalmongering is now hip among the cognoscenti--this may just be more evidence that the elite professorship (and left wing camp followers) have been running on intellectual empty for so long that even the vapors are used up.

Posted by: Paul Freedman at April 24, 2006 12:10 PM

Mr. Friedman claims Dr. Cole is an anti Semitic buffoon.Aside from the professor's own words and actions,what evidence does he offer?And re' Yale hiring him:at least he removes the embarassment he causes for those of us with ties to Michigan

Posted by: corwin at April 24, 2006 03:14 PM