Unless you have been living on Mars, you know the name “Valerie Plame.” The wanna-be “who’s who” chick married to former Ambassador Joe Wilson – the guy who desperately clung to his Plum Book appointment… then bashed Cheney upon his return from a junket his wife had recommended him for.

Forget, for just a moment, the partisan sniping – Left and Right – that surrounded the Plame debacle. Instead, recall the overarching argument defending her as a civil employee – the lofty principle that the identity of an alleged “covert operative” should never have been compromised. Never mind that in Plame’s case, she was often at her husband’s side – using her real name – at a myriad of public events. She made political contributions. She woke up every morning, got in her car and drove to the CIA HQ in Langley then drove home, directly, every night.

Not much “covert” about her behavior.

Snap forward to the New York Times’ cover story: CIA Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations

Well, well, well. And all of Valerie Plame’s defenders are crying foul. What a surprise.

Here is a bit of the story:

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terrorism suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. The tapes were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that video showing harsh interrogation methods could expose agency officials to legal risks, several officials said.

In a statement to employees on Thursday, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, said that the decision to destroy the tapes was made “within the C.I.A.” and that they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value.

The destruction of the tapes raises questions about whether agency officials withheld information from Congress, the courts and the Sept. 11 commission about aspects of the program.

The recordings were not provided to a federal court hearing the case of the terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the Sept. 11 commission, which was appointed by President Bush and Congress, and which had made formal requests to the C.I.A. for transcripts and other documentary evidence taken from interrogations of agency prisoners.

The disclosures about the tapes are likely to reignite the debate over laws that allow the C.I.A. to use interrogation practices more severe than those allowed to other agencies. A Congressional conference committee voted late Wednesday to outlaw those interrogation practices, but the measure has yet to pass the full House and Senate and is likely to face a veto from Mr. Bush.

The debate about torture has been reignited. How terribly convenient, (for the anti-Bush Left) given how the success of the surge in Iraq has brought political arguments against it to a very quiet halt.

But before we even get to the torture debate, it is worth going over the basics here. Covert CIA operatives – as we all learned from the Valerie Plame case – are supposed to be guaranteed anonymity. It endangers their lives if their identity were revealed. It could endanger their families. Some will argue “just pixelate their faces” – then show the tapes. Um, how about NO. There are many technologies that can isolate an image – then make the faces recognizable. The CIA should make every effort to protect the identities of the men who serve on the front lines of the war on terror.

This voyeuristic bent, the thirst for wanting the video by some in the anti-Bush Left – reveals a very perverse need to play Gotcha. The blood lust, this hunger of the Left to watch a tape of a man being interrogated by any means reveals far more about their character than it does about the Interrogators, the President, or the CIA.

This hunger on display will likely be drown out in the aforementioned political sniping and heated rhetoric. But look to the motivations and the zeal for actually “seeing” the tapes. Beyond the legalistic language, is a revealing truth. Men and women of the anti-Bush / anti-Military / anti-War Left will never fathom the selfless service and sacrifice made by the men and women serving the the Clandestine Service or Special Forces.

It reveals the near-sexual desire and satisfaction they experience when, even if only for a moment, they can point downward at the real heroes of the Global War on Terror.

Shame on them.

— Media Lizzy