The right aims at Larry Johnson — and misses

The Weekly Standard's impotent attack against a Valerie Plame defender.

Topics: War Room,

When presented with information that challenges their narrative, the Bush administration and its allies immediately attempt to discredit the source of the information. It is their default setting. Paul O’Neill was disgruntled and marginal, they said. Richard Clarke had been demoted; therefore he was disgruntled and was not “in the loop.” (Plus, maybe he was a racist.) Joseph Wilson, we’ve been told, is a pathological liar whose career was in the toilet, while his wife Valerie Plame is a limelight-seeking CIA diva.

Now there’s a new target: Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and a classmate of Plame’s in 1985 at the agency training facility known as “the Farm.” Johnson has become an outspoken critic of right-wing efforts to paint Plame as a glorified secretary whose identity was not a secret. He and 10 other former CIA analysts wrote a letter to Congress arguing that the identities of all undercover agents — even those with “mere” desk jobs — should be protected. He echoed this sentiment in the Democrats’ weekly radio address on Sunday.

You Might Also Like

Naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone took a shot at him. The problem, though, is that there isn’t any dirt to throw at Johnson, a registered Republican who entered the CIA with a letter of recommendation from Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. So in a new Weekly Standard piece titled “Meet Larry Johnson,” the best that Gary Schmitt, director of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, could muster was to accuse Johnson of having a “pre-9/11 mindset.” Schmitt points to an Op-Ed that Johnson published in The New York Times on July 10, 2001, called “The Declining Terrorist Threat,” in which he argued that fears of terrorist attacks in the U.S. were overblown.

We read Johnson’s piece and, we’ll admit, it does make him look foolish. But there’s a good reason why Johnson’s argument suffered from a pre-9/11 mindset. Namely, he wrote it before 9/11. To show that Johnson still suffers from a pre-9/11 mindset, what Schmitt needed to do was find an example of Johnson clinging to reactionary views after 9/11. But he was unable to provide one.

It’s worth remembering what The Weekly Standard and the Project for a New American Century were talking about prior to 9/11. It wasn’t the threat posed by Islamic terrorists. It was the need to invade Iraq. Furthermore, no organization had a mindset that was more doggedly pre-9/11 in the year leading up to 9/11 than the Bush administration itself, as sources from Richard Clarke to Bob Woodward have attested.

While Schmitt’s attempt to discredit Johnson is a total non-starter, he did write something that we agree with — “Obviously, the leak of Valerie Plame’s name to the media is not something to be tolerated.” Now that’s a message we hope catches on within the Republican leadership.

Aaron Kinney is a writer in San Francisco. He has a blog.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>