Saturday, April 22, 2006


What is the name for a negative serendipity? If there isn't one, one should be created, to reflect the simultaneous appearance of news like these three:

A woman accused of heckling Chinese President Hu Jintao during a White House appearance this week was charged Friday in federal court with a misdemeanor of willfully intimidating, coercing threatening and harassing a foreign official. Wang Wenyi, 47, had obtained temporary press credentials as a reporter for a Falun Gong newspaper and positioned herself on a camera stand.


In a rare occurrence, the CIA fired an officer who acknowledged giving classified information to a reporter, NBC News learned Friday.

The officer flunked a polygraph exam before being fired on Thursday and is now under investigation by the Justice Department, NBC has learned.

Intelligence sources tell NBC News the accused officer, Mary McCarthy, worked in the CIA's inspector general's office and had worked for the National Security Council under the Clinton and and George W. Bush administrations.
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The leak pertained to stories on the CIA's rumored secret prisons in Eastern Europe, sources told NBC. The information was allegedly provided to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who wrote about CIA prisons in November and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for her reporting.

Sources said the CIA believes McCarthy had more than a dozen unauthorized contacts with Priest. Information about subjects other than the prisons may have been leaked as well.


Separately, the Justice Department is investigating New York Times stories about the National Security Agency's domestic warrantless eavesdropping. Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau won a Pulitzer on Monday for their reporting on the issue.


The number of U.S. Army soldiers who took their own lives increased last year to the highest total since 1993, despite a growing effort by the Army to detect and prevent suicides.

In 2005, a total of 83 soldiers committed suicide, compared with 67 in 2004, and 60 in 2003 — the year the U.S. invaded Iraq. Four other deaths in 2005 are being investigated as possible suicides but have not yet been confirmed. The totals include active duty Army soldiers and deployed National Guard and Reserve troops.

"Although we are not alarmed by the slight increase, we do take suicide prevention very seriously," said Army spokesman Col. Joseph Curtin.

"We have increased the number of combat stress teams, increased suicide prevention and training, and we are working very aggressively to change the culture so that soldiers feel comfortable coming forward with their personal problems in a culture where historically admitting mental health issues was frowned upon," Curtin said.

Of the confirmed suicides last year, 25 were soldiers deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — which amounts to 40% of the 64 suicides by Army soldiers in Iraq since the conflict began in March 2003.

They are not coincidences, really, but indications of the same hidden cause.
This may have been too cryptic. I'm struck with the way certain voices are legally stifled, such as Mary McCarthy's voice, while certain people in the administration used leaking as a party-political device. McCarthy leaked to tell us about secret prisons in Europe, run by our administration. Leaking things to benefit your party is legal but leaking things to alert the world about something that is just plain wrong is illegal.

And talking about human rights in China in a speech at the presence of the Chinese president is legal but yelling the same thing at him is illegal. Because we are not serious about human rights, certainly not if there is something else to be serious about, like oil or trade or large amounts of borrowing from the Chinese to fund our lifestyle.

Then there is the heavy-booted march of freedom, the fight against terrorists wherever they may not have happened to be, and the occupation of countries that just happen to have oil even if they didn't happen to have anything to do with 9/11 horrors. And we are asking our armed forces to run this campaign, and we are asking them alone to pay the heavy toll in mental suffering.