Super Spooks Untouchable?

Two CIA stories caught my attention Friday.

First, the Valerie Plame story pops up again, this time with a report that Scooter Libby — facing trial — might have gotten the OK to leak Plame's name from superiors. His immediate superior is Dick Cheney, of course.

I caused some trouble a while back saying that if Karl Rove outed Plame because she was sneaking around trying to subvert the president's war policy, Rove should get a medal.

Evidently, I might have to give that same medal out to Dick Cheney, too.

And then there's what seems like a Groundhog Day headline in The Washington Post Friday: "Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq." Haven't we been seeing this headline for what now, three years?

The story is about a leading analyst at the CIA during the run-up to the war who has stepped forward to say the president misused CIA information or ignored analysts.

His name is Paul Pillar, a 28-year veteran of the CIA.

We have seen this story for so long from unnamed CIA sources we are left to conclude that Pillar was one of those sources all along.

Both Plame and Pillar are evidently part of that group at the CIA who were infuriated that the administration didn't accept their conclusions about Saddam Hussein.

My question is, who made these people gods who have to be obeyed by an elected president? How did they become an untouchable class of high priests of espionage? Who made their judgments above question?

They don't answer to the American people. They don't face election. They sit in anonymity and say obey us or we leak and subvert.

Mr. Pillar actually proposes to institutionalize this class of spy bureaucrat. Something like the Federal Reserve System, he suggests, independent of the president and untouchable.

I find it amazing that these people don't get a key fact of American political life.

The people who got elected get to run things for a while. Complain, if you like, but they're still in charge until someone else gets elected.

These super spooks think they should have to answer to no one except the reporters they leak to — which is no problem really because the reporters are so happy to have the leak they don't point out how grandiose these super spooks think they have become.

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