So one major leaker from the CIA has been outed: Mary O. McCarthy was the source for the CIA-secret-jails story, among apparently many others. She's been fired but apparently may not face criminal charges.

Several former veteran C.I.A. officials said the dismissal of an agency employee over a leak was rare and perhaps unprecedented. One official recalled the firing of a small number of agency contractors, including retirees, for leaking several years ago.

Well that's pretty alarming. The whole point of classifying information is to put some teeth behind the otherwise routine requirement that employees not discuss their work with outsiders. Just about every business or organization has a general understanding of that sort, but since it's so much more important when it comes to national security it's taken to another level. Employees at businesses are fired all the time for disclosing proprietary information, so it's pretty surprising that CIA employees aren't fired for leaking classified information. Hopefully this is the start of a trend.

With the encouragement of the White House and some Republicans in Congress, [CIA Directory Porter J.] Goss has repeatedly spoken out against leaks, saying foreign intelligence officials had asked him whether his agency was incapable of keeping secrets.

In February, Mr. Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee that "the damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission." He said it was his hope "that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information."

"I believe the safety of this nation and the people of this country deserves nothing less," he said.

Isn't it humiliating for the United State's premier intelligence agency to be untrusted by the foreign services we have to work with? Leakers like Mary O. McCarthy are traitors who endanger Americans and America's interests, even if they have good intentions... which I doubt. It seems a lot more likely that Mary O. McCarthy's leaked to cause political damage to President Bush than to enhance America's security.

Public records show that Ms. McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee.

Wow, that's a surprise.

Quotes later in the article show that there are at least a few sensible people left in the CIA who recognize their duties and take them seriously.

But another official, whose experience was at headquarters, said most employees would approve Mr. Goss's action. "I think for the vast majority of people this will be good for morale," the official said. "People didn't like some of their colleagues deciding for themselves what secrets should be in The Washington Post or The New York Times."

Paul R. Pillar, who was the agency's senior analyst for the Middle East until he retired late last year, said: "Classified information is classified information. It's not to be leaked. It's not to be divulged." He has recently criticized the Bush administration's handling of prewar intelligence about Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons programs.

I hope Mary O. McCarthy does get charged and thrown in prison or executed, but since that's not likely I hope that the blogosphere keeps tabs on her and excoriates whomever is foolish enough to hire her next.

Update 060425:
Mary O. McCarthy has denied leaking information about secret CIA prisons and apparently only admitted to having disclosed some other unspecified classified information to reporter Dana Priest of the Washington Post.

The statement by Ty Cobb, a lawyer in the Washington office of Hogan & Hartson who said he was speaking for McCarthy, came on the same day that a senior intelligence official said the agency is not asserting that McCarthy was a key source of Priest's award-winning articles last year disclosing the agency's secret prisons.

McCarthy was fired because the CIA concluded that she had undisclosed contacts with journalists, including Priest, in violation of a security agreement. That does not mean she revealed the existence of the prisons to Priest, Cobb said.

Cobb said that McCarthy, who worked in the CIA inspector general's office, "did not have access to the information she is accused of leaking," namely the classified information about any secret detention centers in Europe.

Of course this is McCarthy's lawyer saying this, and keep in mind that the story above is from the Washtington Post, that paper which McCarthy admitted leaking to.



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