If true, she was faithless to her oath, betrayed the trust of her country, damaged America’s ties to foreign intelligence agencies and governments, and broke the law. The Justice Department is investigating whether McCarthy violated the Espionage Act.

Yet, while she may be headed for criminal prosecution and prison, the Post reporter to whom she leaked intelligence on the secret sites, Dana Priest, just won a Pulitzer Prize for revealing the existence of these sites.

Also copping Pulitzers were two reporters for the New York Times who revealed that, since 9-11, U.S. intelligence agencies have been intercepting calls and e-mails between terror suspects and U.S. citizens.

President Bush had implored the Times not to publish the story, lest exposure of the spying program alert al-Qaida to U.S. capabilities and operations. ~Pat Buchanan

Let’s suppose that Mary McCarthy has almost certainly broken federal law, and let’s grant that she did make use of privileged information to subvert a CIA operation. She must have known that this was what she was doing–why would someone do that, barring conspiracy with a foreign power, except to thwart an operation her conscience dictated was probably immoral? Now it just so happens that this “operation” was possibly in contravention of international conventions for the treatment of prisoners, and that there is plainly something more than a little distasteful about running a secret chain of prisons, no matter the reason for them. Since we are not legally in a state of war with anyone, but are enduring what are properly understood as two rubber-stamped, unconstitutional presidential wars, it is becoming increasingly tiresome to hear people, especially those who should know better, speak about how things must be done “in time of war.”

And if we’re going to get on Mary McCarthy’s case for breaking the law, how about holding Mr. Bush to the same standard for manifestly breaking the law and violating the Constitution with his domestic surveillance program? Or does the rule of law only apply to underlings and mere subjects and not to the perpetual Augustus himself? As you might expect, Tom DiLorenzo takes a rather dim view of Mr. Buchanan’s call to imprison reporters who reveal these sorts of policies to the public. I would not be quite as blunt or hostile as Prof. DiLorenzo was (does anyone really think Mr. Buchanan is a “media mouthpiece” for the “Dubya-ites”?), but particularly on the surveillance program story I can think of no reason why any reporters should be locked up for revealing its existence. For once, the watchdog press did something right and actually helped bring government misconduct to light, and we’re supposed to want to prosecute them for doing this? I have to confess I don’t understand that view at all.