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CIA Officer Is Fired for Media Leaks

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/21/AR2006042101218_pf.html CIA Officer Is Fired for Media Leaks The Post Was Among Outlets That
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21 9:26 PM
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/21/AR2006042101218_pf.html

      CIA Officer Is Fired for Media Leaks
      The Post Was Among Outlets That Gained Classified Data

      By Dafna Linzer
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Saturday, April 22, 2006; A01

      The CIA fired a long-serving intelligence officer for
      sharing classified information with The Washington
      Post and other news organizations, officials said
      yesterday, as the agency continued an aggressive
      internal search for anyone who may have discussed
      intelligence with the news media.

      CIA officials said the career intelligence officer
      failed more than one polygraph test and acknowledged
      unauthorized contacts with reporters. The "officer
      knowingly and willfully shared classified
      intelligence, including operational information" with
      journalists, the agency said in a statement yesterday.

      The CIA did not reveal the identity of the employee,
      who was dismissed Thursday, but NBC News reported last
      night she is Mary McCarthy. An intelligence source
      confirmed that the report was accurate.

      McCarthy began her career in government as an analyst
      at the CIA in 1984, public documents show. She served
      as special assistant to the president and senior
      director for intelligence programs at the White House
      during the Clinton administration and the first few
      months of the Bush administration. She later returned
      to the CIA. Attempts to reach her last night were
      unsuccessful.

      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.

      CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate
      intelligence committee in February that the agency was
      determined to get to the bottom of recent leaks, and
      wanted journalists brought before a federal grand jury
      to reveal their sources. Regarding disclosures about
      CIA detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects
      at secret sites abroad, Goss, the former chairman of
      the House intelligence committee, said that "the
      damage has been very severe to our capabilities to
      carry out our mission."

      The CIA has filed several reports to the Justice
      Department since last fall regarding the publication
      of classified information and has launched its own
      internal inquiries which include administering
      polygraphs to dozens of employees. The intelligence
      agency is sharing its findings with the Justice
      Department but is continuing to pursue some avenues of
      investigation on its own.

      "It's up to the Justice Department to decide whether
      they want to pursue investigations separately," an
      intelligence source said.

      The Justice Department is conducting several leak
      inquiries, including one into reports last December in
      the New York Times about a secret domestic
      surveillance program by the National Security Agency.
      Officials said it is possible the department could
      file criminal charges in connection with that
      investigation and others, but it is unclear whether
      the department is also investigating the disclosures
      about CIA-run prisons.

      Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse declined
      to comment yesterday. "We do not confirm
      investigations on intelligence-related matters," he
      said, because of the information's sensitivity.

      Intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of
      anonymity, said the dismissed officer identified by
      others as McCarthy has not been charged with any crime
      and is not believed to be the subject of a Justice
      Department investigation.

      The officer's employment was terminated for violating
      a secrecy agreement all employees are required to sign
      when they join the agency. The agreement prohibits
      them from sharing classified information with
      unauthorized individuals.

      The CIA said the firing was the result of an internal
      investigation initiated in late January of all
      "officers who were involved in or exposed to certain
      intelligence programs."

      "Through the course of these investigations a CIA
      official acknowledged having unauthorized discussion
      with the media" and was terminated, the CIA statement
      said.

      Priest, who also won the George Polk Award and a prize
      from the Overseas Press Club this week for her
      articles, declined to comment yesterday.

      Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said people
      who provide citizens the information they need to hold
      their government accountable should not "come to harm
      for that."

      "The reporting that Dana did was very important
      accountability reporting about how the CIA and the
      rest of the U.S. government have been conducting the
      war on terror," Downie said. "Whether or not the
      actions of the CIA or other agencies have interfered
      with anyone's civil liberties is important information
      for Americans to know and is an important part of our
      jobs."

      In an effort to stem leaks, the Bush administration
      launched several initiatives earlier this year
      targeting journalists and national security employees.
      They include FBI probes, extensive polygraphing inside
      the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that
      reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

      The effort has been widely seen among members of the
      media, and some legal experts, as the most extensive
      and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and
      has worsened the already-tense relationship between
      mainstream news organizations and the White House.

      Dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security
      Agency and other intelligence agencies have been
      interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field
      office. Others have been prohibited, in writing, from
      discussing even unclassified issues related to the
      domestic surveillance program. Some GOP lawmakers are
      also considering tougher penalties for leaking.

      Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate
      intelligence panel, welcomed the CIA's actions. In a
      statement, he said leaks had "hindered our efforts in
      the war against al Qaeda," although he did not say
      how.

      "I am pleased that the Central Intelligence Agency has
      identified the source of certain unauthorized
      disclosures, and I hope that the agency, and the
      [intelligence] community as a whole, will continue to
      vigorously investigate other outstanding leak cases,"
      Roberts said.

      Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu and research editor Lucy
      Shackelford contributed to this report.
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