As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Everybody Slow Down

I had my suspicions about the Mary McCarthy story because it seemed just a little too pat. Especially when the rumblings of her political donations to various Democratic campaigns started rolling in. That seemed like the icing on the cake. When I read this in the Washington Post, buried at the end of the article, I grew more suspicious:

The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.

There should not be a political test for any position in government. It's practically discriminatory. So they find some Democrat who's about to retire anyway (today was to be her last week), and they pin her for leaking, sending a message to every other staff member in the building. They've certainly sent messages to the CIA before. In fact, there was a completely similar case of kicking a retiree-to-be out the door mired in scandal, when 4-star general Kevin Byrnes was relieved of his duty for "adultery." It turned out he was days away from a divorce, had begun dating another woman, and the "adultress" and the ex-wife actually knew one another.

So it wouldn't be unprecedented to make Mary McCarthy both an example and a scapegoat.

And both Keith Olbermann and Newsweek are reporting this:

A former CIA officer who was sacked last week after allegedly confessing to leaking secrets has denied she was the source of a controversial Washington Post story about alleged CIA secret detention operations in Eastern Europe, a friend of the operative told NEWSWEEK.

The fired official, Mary O. McCarthy, “categorically denies being the source of the leak,” one of McCarthy’s friends and former colleagues, Rand Beers, said Monday after speaking to McCarthy. Beers said he could not elaborate on this denial and McCarthy herself did not respond to a request for comment left by NEWSWEEK on her home answering machine [...]

McCarthy's lawyer, Ty Cobb, told NEWSWEEK this afternooon that contrary to public statements by the CIA late last week, McCarthy never confessed to agency interrogators that she had divulged classified information and "didn't even have access to the information" in The Washington Post story in question.

After being told by agency interrogators that she may have been deceptive on one quesiton during a polygraph, McCarthy did acknowledge that she had failed to report contacts with Washington Post reporter Dana Priest and at least one other reporter, said a source familiar with her account who asked not to be identified because of legal sensitivities. McCarthy has known Priest for some time, the source said.

McCarthy, 61, a career CIA analyst who was working in the inspector general's office, was then told on Thursday that she was being fired. She was not escorted out of the CIA buiilding, the source said. She also had been assured that the CIA would protect her privacy--just one day before her name became publicly known as the agency official who had been dismissed for leaking to the press, the source said.

Well, the thing is, they're not good at keeping names secret.

The CIA is completely backing off the McCarthy-Priest connection, as it specifically relates to the secret prison article:

A counter-terrorism official acknowledged to NEWSWEEK today that in firing McCarthy, the CIA was not necessarily accusing her of being the principal, original, or sole leaker of any particular story. Intelligence officials privately acknowledge that key news stories about secret agency prison and “rendition” operations have been based, at least in part, upon information available from unclassified sources.

And of course, people are forgetting that Priest alleged at least a dozen contacts over a period of several years for her Pulitzer-winning series of articles.

This whole thing has a real bad stench to it. McCarthy's firing overshadowed what I assumed would be a huge story, an allegation made by a defense lawyer that the Secretary of State released classified information to two pro-Israel lobbyists now on trial for the leak. CIA Director Porter Goss is a former Republican Congressman.

I think everybody got ahead of the facts on this one. I have no idea what McCarthy's role is in the leaking of classified information. She was definitely fired for something, but nobody knows what. This definitely has all the earmarks of a Rovian ratfuck. Everyone needs to slow down until the facts slowly start to emerge.