Goss fights back against those at war with Bush administration
The firing of a veteran Central Intelligence Agency officer who has been accused of leaking classified information is a rare and dramatic move, yet C.I.A. officials say it is only the beginning of a campaign to stanch the unauthorized flow of information from the spy agency.While some in the NY Times story seem to think Mary McCarthy was a hero, the Washington Post notes a strong negative reaction to what she did from any current and former spooks.
Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director, has for three months carried out one of the most intensive leak investigations in the agency's history, using polygraph tests to determine who at the agency may be behind what Mr. Goss says is an explosion of damaging leaks to the news media.
According to C.I.A. officials, staff members have been summoned by the agency's Security Center to undergo polygraph tests in an effort to find out who revealed to reporters information about classified programs, including the agency's secret overseas detention jails for high-level Qaeda detainees.
It is uncommon for C.I.A. directors to make leak crackdowns a priority of their tenure. Mr. Goss's use of "single issue" polygraphs in a leak investigation — which led to the firing on Thursday of the C.I.A. officer, Mary O. McCarthy — is a sign of how serious he is about enforcing discipline in the agency's ranks.
When Mr. Goss took the helm at the C.I.A. in September 2004, he inherited an agency that was widely viewed in Washington as being at war with the Bush administration.
A former intelligence official who remains in contact with many current C.I.A. officers said Mr. Goss was still viewed as an outsider. "There's a great sense among C.I.A. folks that the administration regards them as the enemy," the former official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he said his current employer did not want him to comment publicly on controversial issues. But he said most intelligence officers were "horrified" at leaks and would support the dismissal of leakers.
...What both of these stories ignore is the donkey in the room. While they talk about an agency at war with the administration, the secret civil war launched by Democrats who work for the spy agency is a cut above a disgruntled whistle blower operation. It has been systematic and designed to undercut the US war effort. The two most notorious leakers so far and their spouses, are big contributors to Democrats. Their conduct makes every Democrat working for the CIA suspect particularly if there is a leak of information they had access to. Has there been a CIA leak in the last six years that has benn favorable tothe administration? Have any of the leaks helped the war effort?
Several former senior intelligence officials said yesterday they could not recall a similar sanction being levied against a serving CIA officer in the past several decades, although they said they would have supported such an action if the agency had been able to trace a leak of a similar nature back to its source.
A majority of CIA officers would probably "find the action taken [against McCarthy] correct," said a former senior intelligence official who said he had discussed the matter with former colleagues in the past day. "A small number might support her, but the ethic of the business is not to" leak, and instead to express one's dissenting views through internal grievance channels.
CIA officials, without confirming the information in the article, have said the disclosure harmed the agency's relations with unspecified foreign intelligence services. "The consequences of this leak were more serious than other leaks," said a former intelligence official in touch with senior agency officials. "That's what inspired this [firing]." Others pointed out that the information in question was known by so few people that the number of suspected leakers was fairly small, enabling investigators to work swiftly.
But they have several options, Kerr said. "You can quit, stay inside and fight or use the appeal mechanism inside." The formal mechanisms sometimes are not effective, he said, and "this one way [leaking to the press] is a high-risk one." Kerr added, however, that in his view, the CIA cannot allow leaks to go unpunished, because "your discipline breaks down."
Several former intelligence officials said they were particularly alarmed about McCarthy's alleged involvement in any leaks because of where she worked at the CIA. L. Britt Snyder III, who was CIA inspector general from 1997 to 2000, said if McCarthy leaked information while working in the IG office, "we would have considered that a fairly egregious sin." The IG, he said, "gets into everything, including personal things. That makes it a little different than other places."
Update: Andrew McCarthy does notice the donkey in the room.