New York Times Public Editor, a.k.a. ombudsman, Clark Hoyt devoted a long column yesterday to, essentially, defending his employer’s decision to publish the name of the CIA interrogator who got Khalid Sheikh Muhammad to talk. Hoyt endorses the Times‘s conclusion that it was somehow in the public interest to learn Deuce Martinez’s name, despite the pleas of Martinez himself and CIA Director Michael Hayden not to publish it–and despite the experience of another CIA operative who had gone public after interrogating another Al Qaeda big shot:
When I asked [John] Kiriakou for full details about his experience, he said he received more than a dozen death threats, many of them crank. His house was put under police guard and he took his family to Mexico for two weeks after the C.I.A. advised him to get out of town for a while. He said he lost his job with a major accounting firm because executives expressed fear that Al Qaeda could attack its offices to get him, though Kiriakou considered that fear unreasonable.
Hoyt’s defense might have been more convincing if he had made any attempt to distinguish Martinez’s case from that of Valerie Plame. Recall, after all, how the Times editorialists and columnists hyperventilated for years about Plame’s outing–an action that, in the immortal words of columnist Paul Krugman, was “both felonious and unpatriotic”. But there was not a mention–not one–of La Plame in Hoyt’s article. So it remains a matter of speculation how outing one CIA operative can be “felonious and unpatriotic,” while outing another CIA operative–one who has made even bigger enemies–is necessary for “trying to tell the public about some of the government’s most important and controversial actions.”