CIA Fires Analyst for Alleged Press Leak
Saturday, April 22, 2006; 1:11 PM
WASHINGTON -- The CIA fired a top intelligence analyst who admitted leaking classified information that led to a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about a network of secret CIA prisons, government officials say.
The officer was a senior analyst nearing retirement, Mary McCarthy, The Associated Press learned. Reached Friday evening at home, her husband would not confirm her firing.
Almost immediately, the firing turned political. Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., praised the agency for identifying a source of the leaks and encouraged vigorous investigation of other open cases. "Those guilty of improperly disclosing classified information should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Roberts said.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., called on President Bush to hold accountable those in his administration who leaked information about the Iraq intelligence in the run-up to the war and outed undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. "Apparently, President Bush doesn't believe what's good for the CIA is good for the White House," Menendez said.
In McCarthy's final position at the CIA, she was assigned to its Office of Inspector General, looking into allegations the CIA was involved in torture at Iraqi prisons, according to a former colleague who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.
Without identifying McCarthy by name, CIA Director Porter Goss announced the firing in a brief message to agency employees circulated Thursday. Such dismissals are highly unusual.
Agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano confirmed an officer had been fired for having unauthorized contacts with the media and disclosing classified information to reporters, including details about intelligence operations.
"The officer has acknowledged unauthorized discussions with the media and the unauthorized sharing of classified information," Gimigliano said. "That is a violation of the secrecy agreement that everyone signs as a condition of employment with the CIA."
Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not disclose any details about the officer's identity, assignments or what she might have told the news media. A law enforcement official confirmed there was a criminal leaks investigation under way, but it did not involve the fired CIA officer.
The official said the CIA officer had provided information that contributed to a Washington Post story last year disclosing secret U.S. prisons in Eastern Europe. The law enforcement official spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
The Post's Dana Priest won a Pulitzer Prize this week for her reporting on a covert prison system set up by the CIA after Sept. 11, 2001, that at various times included sites in eight countries. The story caused an international uproar, and government officials have said it did significant damage to relationships between the U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.
Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said on the newspaper's Web site: "We don't know the details of why (the CIA employee) was fired, so I can't comment on that. But as a general principle, obviously I am opposed to criminalizing the dissemination of government information to the press."