Tuesday, April 25, 2006

MSM Mistake?

I really hope that the MSM (Newsweek) hasn't buggered this up.

The lawyer for a Central Intelligence Agency official dismissed last week after being accused of leaking classified information said on Monday that his client denied disclosing any classified information and was not the source for newspaper articles about secret C.I.A. prisons abroad.

Ty Cobb, a Washington lawyer recently retained by the official, Mary O. McCarthy, who was fired last Thursday and escorted out of agency headquarters, said his client had never been granted access to the information she was accused of leaking, referring to material used in Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in The Washington Post about C.I.A. prisons.

I'll remain skeptical about the contention of not having access to the information. She worked in the agency's Inspector General's office and likely had access to lots of information that was in review.

The question is, has the reporting gotten it correct? This article starts by stating that she was the person accused of leaking the information, but the CIA never revealed who that was.
Mr. Cobb, whose comments about Ms. McCarthy's denials were first reported on the Newsweek Web site, said his client had also told him that she never admitted leaking any classified information before she was terminated. She believes she was fired solely because she failed to report contacts with journalists to her superiors, he said.

Yet Mr. Cobb said he did not believe that Ms. McCarthy, who has not spoken publicly since her dismissal, intended to fight her termination either in court or in the public arena.

Failure to report contacts is a rule violation as well. And if this has been a long term issue, she certainly could be justifiably fired over it.
A C.I.A. spokesman said Monday night that the agency stood by its statement of Friday, which said an employee had been dismissed after acknowledging unauthorized contacts with journalists and disclosing classified information.

The agency has not named the employee who was fired, but intelligence officials have said that it was Ms. McCarthy and that she was dismissed for a "pattern of conduct" and not for a single leak. The agency has not specified the nature of the leaked information or the news outlet where it appeared.

I'm thinking that the MSM have it right, but that since Ms. McCarthy isn't in jail, the CIA is taking the whole situation in a go slow and careful mode. Especially considering:
Administration officials and Congressional Republicans have called for prosecution of government officials who knowingly leak classified information, in part to deter future leaks. But former intelligence officials and legal experts said Monday that prosecuting Ms. McCarthy for disclosing classified information might not be easy.

Polygraph evidence would not be admissible in court, and any confession that followed a polygraph might also be excluded, they said. In the likely event that journalists refused to testify about confidential sources, it might be difficult to prove that Ms. McCarthy was the source of a particular classified fact.

In addition, Department of Justice officials, who would have to make a decision about whether to pursue a criminal case, might consider the impact on the agency of months of inquiries and possible testimony.

"A criminal trial would be devastating for Langley," said one former C.I.A. officer, referring to the agency's Virginia headquarters. He spoke about a possible prosecution on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Personally, I think if they have any evidence beyond the polygraph and the confession, they should prosecute. I'm doubting that they do though. But then, having fired her, they have pretty much stripped her of any ability to work in any profession requiring a security clearance. That doesn't mean she won't get a job. There are plenty of political "think-tanks" that will hire her just because she was part of this, and even more so due to her apparently clear-cut affiliation with Democratic politics.

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