Patriot or Traitor?

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Ethics question of the day: Is it right to do something you know is wrong, perhaps even illegal, for the sake of a greater good?

Mary McCarthy at the CIA leaks highly classified information on a sensitive topic that compromises both the United States and some key allies. She clearly broke the law. It will make future espionage deals with foreign capitals more difficult. It has serious consequences. She certainly had political motives. All that has been well-observed and roundly condemned on the right.

But what if her object is, in part, to expose, and thus end, U.S.-sanctioned torture? What if she wanted to restore dignity to the American flag?

The United States ignores the wishes of the United Nations and overthrows a Middle Eastern tyrant that the United States is, in part, responsible for in the first place. We clearly went against the expressed wishes of our allies and the protocol of international institutions. This will make future international efforts more difficult and alienates much of the world from us. It has serious consequences. The White House certainly had its own agenda in this. All that has been well-observed and roundly condemned on the left.

But what if our object is, in part, to give a chance for freedom and democracy to a tormented nation? To end Saddam’s cruel reign? What if we wanted to restore dignity to the Iraqi people?

Do you decide based on whether you agree with the person that “A is bad, but B is worse?”

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