Saturday, January 08, 2005

Got $36 million to spare?

The Chicago Tribune apparently thinks the CIA does. In an article entitled "Mysterious jet tied to torture flight," the Tribune spends most of the article 'outing' CIA Gulfstream V used by the CIA for clandestine transport, and then spends a minimal amount of space near the end of the article linking the airplane to flights where people suspected of involvement with al-Qaida were 'rendered' to countries whose laws limiting torture are less stringent than the United States'.

By 'outing,' I mean the newspaper found the tail number for the aircraft, found its previous tail numbers, found the names of corporations that had owned and currently own the aircraft, and then dug around for proof that the said corporations exist. Obviously, they don't. They're CIA fronts.

I have no problem with this article addressing the issue of rendition. In fact, I feel it is barely removed from U.S. sanctioned torture. A good column by Michael Ledeen similar to my views is here. But is it really necessary to totally blow the Gulfstream's cover, along with the front companies? According to most of the media a year ago, no. Joe "no yellowcake" Wilson's CIA 'officer' wife, Valerie Plame, was outed by an article written by Robert Novak. His source was an official in the Bush White House. Ms. Plame was operating 'undercover,' but her cover was blown when she was in the states permanently serving as an analyst at CIA Headquarters. The media, along with the Democratic leadership, began screaming for the head of whoever was responsible for the leak, along with (it seemed) half of the Bush White House. Eventually, an investigation was begun, and Novak and two other reporters were subpoened to reveal the source. They refused, and served jail time for contempt.

Fast forward a year. Now the media themselves blows the cover of a Gulfstream aircraft that frequently travels to nasty corners of the world, at the very least forcing the CIA to switch around the tail numbers and cover companies, at the very worst, endangering the aircraft and the lives of those on board. The CIA was already forced to change the tail number twice, once after a London Times 'expose' and again after a similar Washington Post piece.

The only common theme seems to be that the media's positions in both instances hurts the Bush Administration.