I will admit to being a big Gary Hart fan. In fact, he remains the last Democratic presidential candidate I was ever genuinely enthusiastic about, and I have always considered it a great national loss that he was forced out of the political arena by media (over-)reaction to personal indiscretion. I had the pleasure of hearing Sen. Hart speak to a small audience at UCSD in the spring of 2004. Sometimes when you finally meet someone you have long admired, the result is disappointment. Not in this case. He was even more impressive in person. A politician (or ex-politician, alas) with real intellectual heft.
In the presentation at UCSD, he had some very bold words about US foreign and military policy more generally, and about some advice he gave to John Kerry before the Senate vote on whether to authorize the debacle otherwise known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Advice that Kerry refused, to his and our discredit.)
Here are a few excerpts from Hart’s Denver Post editorial:
…conservative elements in America have always proclaimed themselves more concerned than anyone else with national security, the sanctity of classified information, protection of sources, support for our intelligence and military services, and so on. At radical times in our past, irresponsible leftist groups thought it was their duty to try to reveal the names of CIA agents. Now, under a conservative administration, it is these conservative national security champions who are saying, with regard to the “outing” of a CIA undercover officer, “Where’s the crime?”
I deplore those who want to diminish it [the CIA], politicize it, or require it to produce bogus intelligence it would not otherwise produce simply to fit some preconceived political or ideological agenda.
To casually and willfully endanger the life of an undercover CIA agent is a felony. You either believe in taking the laws of the United States seriously or you do not.
Sen. Hart weaves through his piece a specific story concerning himself, the CIA and Cheney that is rich in irony. Highly recommended.