Sweetness and Light has noticed that the press has quoted two former counterterrorism experts in defense of Mary McCarthy but omitted one interesting detail, which may or may not be relevant. Here's ABC News report quoting the first expert, Ray McGovern to the effect that McCarthy had a higher duty to "defend the constitution".
To supporters, McCarthy is a woman of conviction who exposed actions she believed were against the law.
"This a matter of principle," said Ray McGovern, a former fellow CIA analyst, "where she said my oath, my promise not to reveal secrets is superceded by my oath to defend the constitution of the U.S."
The second quote, cited by Sweetness and Light, is from a Washington Post feed, and features the second expert, Larry Johnson, who argues that McCarthy was fighting a "whitewash".
Since the revelation in 2004 of prisoner abuses by U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the CIA inspector general’s office was charged with examining allegations of torture and other ill treatment of detainees by CIA officers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The allegations arose, according to sources, from complaints made by others within the agency about wrongdoing. ...
Larry Johnson, a former State Department counterterrorism expert who worked briefly for McCarthy at the CIA in 1988, said Saturday that if McCarthy was really involved in leaks, she may have concluded that the investigation was “a whitewash, and why not tell the press? ... I am struck by the irony that Mary McCarthy may have been fired for blowing the whistle and ensuring the truth about an abuse was told to the American people.”
Then Sweetness and Light notices that both Ray McGovern and Larry Johnson are associated with Daniel Ellsberg's The Truth-Telling Project. For those who are unfamiliar with the name Daniel Ellsberg, here's the Wikipedia entry.
Daniel Ellsberg (born April 7, 1931) is a former American military analyst who precipitated a national uproar in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, the US military's account of activities during the Vietnam War, to The New York Times. His release of the Pentagon Papers succeeded in substantially eroding public support for the war.
Ray McGovern's role is described on this Truth-Telling Project web page.
The Truth-Telling Coalition, comprised of high-level national security truth-tellers, as well as non-profit whistleblower organizations, provides a personal and legal support network for each other and for government insiders considering becoming truth-tellers. Current coalition members include Sibel Edmonds, Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Grevil, Katharine Gun, Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley, the Project on Government Oversight, and the ACLU. (Bios and info on members will be available on the Truth-Telling Coalition Website, currently under construction.) To see press coverage of the Truth-Telling Coalition, see the Press Coverage page.
Mr. Larry Johnson's involvement is described on this Truth-Telling Project petition to the Danish Government asking for charges to be dropped against "Danish fellow truth-teller, Mr. Frank Grevil" for
leaking three classified “threat assessments” to a Danish newspaper in January/February 2004, in order to substantiate claims made verbatim to the same newspaper. These documents demonstrated that his employer at the time, the Danish Defense Intelligence Service, provided unbalanced intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction prior to the decision of the Danish Parliament to join the so-called "Coalition of the Willing" in March 2003.
The association of McGovern and Johnson with Daniel Ellsberg's Truth-telling Project neither invalidates their views nor necessarily portrays them in an unfavorable light, unless one happens to believe that being associated with Daniel Ellsberg is pejorative in and of itself. One might even argue that neither the ABC News nor the Washington Post had any duty to inform their readers who these former intelligence and counterterrorist officials were. But the connection is an interesting one to know. Ask yourself: would you rather not have known?
It is probably impossible to banish bias from human beings. But it is important to recognize its existence explictly. People like McGovern and Johnson make a contribution to the debate, as would the John Birch Society, but their viewpoints should be recognized for if their submissions are not to becoming misleading. Without this explicit recognition we skew the sample. The newspapers in quoting these analysts endorsements of McCarthy without qualification are doing no different than presenting a product endorsement from a tout. The tout may well be right about the superiority of his product but it helps if the public knew where they were coming from.
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