Wednesday, April 26, 2006

CIA makes clear Mary McCarthy did wrong.

Nation: CIA not taking any stuff from her lawyer.

WASHINGTON, April 25 — The Central Intelligence Agency on Tuesday defended the firing of Mary O. McCarthy, the veteran officer who was dismissed last week, and challenged her lawyer's statements that Ms. McCarthy never provided classified information to the news media. But intelligence officials would not say whether they believed that Ms. McCarthy had been a source for a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles in The Washington Post about secret C.I.A. detention centers abroad. Media accounts have linked Ms. McCarthy's firing to the articles, but the C.I.A. has never explicitly drawn such a connection. In response to questions Tuesday, the intelligence officials declined to say whether discussion of the prisons had been part of what they described as a pattern of unauthorized contacts between Ms. McCarthy and reporters. One intelligence official, who was granted anonymity to speak more candidly about the sensitive issue, said it was unclear how much access Ms. McCarthy, who had been assigned to the agency's inspector general's office, had to specific details about the secret prisons. A C.I.A. spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, said: "The officer was terminated for precisely the reasons we have given: unauthorized contacts with reporters and sharing classified information with reporters. There is no question whatsoever that the officer did both. The officer personally admitted doing both."
CJRDaily points out that the MSM did a helluva leap with the initial reports.
Yet from the moment that news of McCarthy's dismissal broke last Saturday, most members of the press immediately assumed she was indeed the source. And pundits and bloggers, depending on their political leanings, have alternately portrayed McCarthy as a brave whistleblower who had the guts to throw away a distinguished career in order to tell the truth about a program of detention and torture, or a dangerous turncoat who leaked our nation's most precious secrets to a journalist and undermined national security (and, to add insult to injury, donated $2,000 to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign). Looking at the initial reports, it's easy to see how the press cemented the idea that McCarthy was Priest's source without saying it outright. Saturday's story in the Washington Post -- Priest's own paper -- is typical. It starts off referring to the CIA's statement, which makes absolutely no reference to McCarthy having leaked a specific story, then not-so-subtly jumps to conclusions: "The CIA's statement did not name the reporters it believes were involved, but several intelligence officials said the Post's Dana Priest was among them. This week, Priest won the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting for articles about the agency, including one that revealed the existence of secret, CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe and elsewhere." And just like that, presto, McCarthy is responsible for the Priest scoop. To add fuel to the fire, the next paragraph of the piece goes on to quote CIA Director Porter J. Goss's February comments to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his determination to get to the bottom of recent leaks, saying that "the damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission." That was more than a nudge. The piece was clearly suggesting a connection. Subsequent stories in the Post and the New York Times about McCarthy's character and the likelihood that she spilled the beans only added to the sense that much was at stake here -- not just whether she had been doing some unauthorized talking to reporters (a commonplace occurrence in Washington), but whether she was responsible for an investigative blockbuster.

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