In an astonishing stroke of irony, the New York Times has outed the name of the CIA operative who interrogated 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, over the objections of CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and a lawyer representing the operative.
Agency officials and legal counsel told the Times that publishing the agent's name would "invade his privacy and put him at risk of retaliation from terrorists or harassment from critics of the agency."
In an Editor's Note linked from the story on KSM's interrogation, the Times defended its decision by stating that "other government employees" had been "named publicly in books and published articles" or had chosen to go public themselves, by explaining that its policy "is to withhold the name of a news subject only very rarely," and by arguing the operative's name "was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article."
Times reporter Scott Shane describes his scoop as "the closest look to date beneath the blanket of secrecy that hides the program from terrorists and from critics who accuse the agency of torture."
The CIA apparently believes that by publishing the operative's name, the Times put the agent at risk for retaliatory strikes from such "critics" and terrorists, despite his here-described lack of participation in the agency's "harsh interrogation methods."
Of course, this is just the latest in a long string of Times articles that have leaked classified and guarded information critical to America's security and that of its people and public servants. Alert readers have long since stopped expecting any level of consistency from the same liberal media that was obsessed with the naming of Valerie Plame (though they've been considerably less obsessed with the actual source of Robert Novak's column, Richard Armitage).
The Central Intelligence Agency asked The New York Times not to publish the name of Deuce Martinez, an interrogator who questioned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other high-level Al Qaeda prisoners, saying that to identify Mr. Martinez would invade his privacy and put him at risk of retaliation from terrorists or harassment from critics of the agency.
After discussion with agency officials and a lawyer for Mr. Martinez, the newspaper declined the request, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked under cover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news stories and books. The editors judged that the name was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article.
The Times's policy is to withhold the name of a news subject only very rarely, most often in the case of victims of sexual assault or intelligence officers operating under cover.
Mr. Martinez, a career analyst at the agency until his retirement a few years ago, did not directly participate in waterboarding or other harsh interrogation methods that critics describe as torture and, in fact, turned down an offer to be trained in such tactics.
The newspaper seriously considered the requests from Mr. Martinez and the agency. But in view of the experience of other government employees who have been named publicly in books and published articles or who have themselves chosen to go public, the newspaper made the decision to print the name.