Wednesday, November 2


The Washington Post (registration required) publishes a major story this morning by staff writer Dana Priest disclosing that the CIA has been operating a "covert prison system," including sites in as many as eight countries, for the hiding and interrogation of "some of its most important al Qaeda captives."

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

Dana Priest continues:

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.

The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

This MSM outing of top-secret CIA efforts to gain critically-needed intelligence in the global war on terror begs a Congressional investigation, as what WaPo has done in divulging sensitive, classified information is to endeavor to foment another Abu Grab-style scandal where one may not exist. And, after all, why have a Central Intelligence Agency to serve the interests of the United States if the media is intent on scuttling covert operations designed to save American lives?

If the Valerie Plame brouhaha merits the kind of overweening attention it received, then surely this does. Just who was the source of this classified information? And where is the line of demarcation for an open and free press between proper investigative reporting and the kind of reporting that may be tantamount to treason?

And what will be the reaction of this front page, above-the-fold disclosure of secret information in the Islam community and particularly among Islamofascist terrorists bent on doing harm throughout the civilized world? Doesn't such a story bring the potential for grave consequences to our armed forces and those of our allies? How could it possibly advance the cause against terrorism?

And should this impress us?

The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials. They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.

That disclaimer means that WaPo has in its possession such specific, classified information. How did it acquire it? Who are the "senior U.S. officials" with whom such a dialogue has occurred? is the leak(s) coming from within the CIA itself?

The Democrats will surely sieze on this rank disclosure and their frenetic left-wing will become an unseemly political billows again in intensifying the burning ambers of a sordid, Sheehan-style anti-war movement.

Americans should take no comfort in what the Washington Post has done this morning to undermine the country and the GWOT and to put our men and women in uniform in harm's way. The scandal is that such a report was written, not that the CIA is doing its job.

FOLLOW-UP: Glenn Reynolds, for one, agrees with me.