The CIA announced Friday it has fired a senior analyst for leaking classified information to
the news media.
After she failed a polygraph examination, Mary McCarthy confessed to leaking to Dana Priest of
the Washington Post information about secret CIA prisons for al Qaida bigwigs. Earlier this
month, Ms. Priest was awarded a Pulitzer prize for her reporting on the secret prisons.
"I have no idea what her motive was," former CIA deputy director Richard Kerr told the New York
Several Web loggers noted a possible motive that eluded Mr. Kerr and the Times. In the last
election cycle, Ms. McCarthy and her husband contributed $9,500 to Democrats. Both made the
maximum $2,000 contribution to the Kerry campaign, and she gave $5,000 to the Ohio Democratic
Ms. McCarthy joined the CIA as an analyst in 1984, and just ten years later became a national
intelligence officer, the spook equivalent of a four star general. She was brought into the
Clinton White House in 1998 as special assistant for intelligence programs.
Ms. McCarthy had been the NIO for Warning. Since on her watch the CIA missed the first World
Trade Center bombing and the bombing of the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia, something
other than competence may have been behind her meteoric rise.
"McCarthy's rapid advancement speaks volumes about how the Clinton administration did business,
and sheds new light on the intelligence failures that set the state for 9/11," said the Web
logger "Spook 86," a former Air Force intelligence officer.
In addition to violating her oath, and the non-disclosure agreement she signed with the CIA,
Ms. McCarthy also committed a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Both the CIA and the Justice Department have so far been mum about possible prosecution.
Perhaps this is because she is cooperating with authorities in exchange for lighter punishment.
That could explain the flop sweat that has appeared on some prominent brows over the weekend.
The Associated Press did a curious thing when it reported on the dismissal of Ms. McCarthy.
Along with the story, the AP ran on its Web site a photo of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the
former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who has been indicted for allegedly lying to a grand
jury about whether he told a New York Times reporter that Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador
Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked at the CIA.
As far as we know, there is no connection between Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Wilson's claim that
President Bush was lying when he said in his 2003 state of the union address that Saddam
Hussein was trying to buy uranium in Africa.
But perhaps there is. "It's not just one story," CNN quoted an official as saying. "It's a
pattern of activity."
It's clear some in the CIA have been working with journalists and Democratic lawmakers to
embarrass the Bush administration.
"The broader context here is an intelligence community that was, quite brazenly, leaking in a
manner designed to topple a sitting president," said former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy
That the leaks harm U.S. national security is, apparently, acceptable collateral damage, if
it's a concern at all.
"During my spook days, I saw a classified analysis of the impact of media leaks over the past
ten years," Spook 86 wrote. "The impact of these disclosures in terms of blown sources and
lost intel information was absolutely staggering."
The group is not large, and most involved are known to each other. Ms. Priest, for instance,
is married to William Goodfellow, who runs the Center for International Policy, a pro-Castro
group which has sponsored speeches by Wilson. Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Wilson briefly overlapped
on the Clinton NSC, and Ms. McCarthy likely knew Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, at the CIA.
Mr. Wilson's trip to Niger seems in retrospect to have been for no other purpose than attacking
the Bush administration. State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research opposed it, on the
grounds that Mr. Wilson was neither a spy nor an expert on WMD, and there already were both at
the embassy in Niger.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; the Robb-Silberman Commission, and Britain's
Butler Commission all concluded that Saddam Hussein had indeed sought uranium in Africa, a fact
which Wilson himself admitted to the CIA officers who debriefed him.
President Bush declassified part of a National Intelligence Estimate in order to rebut Mr.
Wilson's lies. Democrats are spinning this as the moral equivalent of Ms. McCarthy's leaks.
I doubt this will fly, because we're likely soon to have more information about the cabal.
"It's not over yet," said an official of the leak investigation.