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CIA Officer Fired for Leaking Classified Info to Media
April 21, 2006 2:52 PM   Subscribe

CIA Officer Fired for Leaking Classified Info to Media Newsfilter. The president, we are told, leaked via Libby a secret to the press. That is ok. The leak was telling the press that laws were being broken--FISA subverted--so that undermining national laws becomes a crime only when it is revealed? A CIA officer has been relieved of his duty after being caught leaking classified information to the media. Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officer's identity or assignments.
posted by Postroad (36 comments total)

 
"A CIA officer has been relieved of his duty after being caught leaking classified information to the media."

That seems to be the entire story in a nut shell. Not very interesting. And seemingly 100% in line with how most of us assume the rules should work. And not related to Bush in any manner short of ax grinding. What am I missing?
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:03 PM on April 21, 2006


"And not related to Bush in any manner short of ax grinding. What am I missing?"

I believe the very obvious point is that the Bush Administration leaks when it is to their advantage BUT doesn't believe that anything else should ever be leaked, even if the leak brings to light illegal activities (such as the warrantless spying).

I think this has a lot to do with our sorry excuse for a president.
posted by UseyurBrain at 3:09 PM on April 21, 2006


Yawn.

The only thing interesting here is that this officer managed to get caught.
posted by Dasein at 3:17 PM on April 21, 2006


I believe the very obvious point is that the Bush Administration leaks when it is to their advantage

Hey, imagine that! The Chief Executive believes he knows better than a technician for when information should be made public. The nerve!
posted by sbutler at 3:18 PM on April 21, 2006


What you're missing is that the agent in question leaked to Dana Priest of the Washington Post. Priest wrote a key story about CIA prisons. Priest also won a Pulitzer for last year's reporting on the CIA beat.
posted by dhartung at 3:19 PM on April 21, 2006


"Hey, imagine that! The Chief Executive believes he knows better than a technician for when information should be made public. The nerve!"

Of course! This 'technician' thought that the 'secret prisons' were bad. What the hell does he know about bad? I give the Bushies the advantage there any day.
posted by UseyurBrain at 3:31 PM on April 21, 2006


So the person he leaked too was the one who gave the administration a major black eye with the Easter European states that were our nominal allies in Iraq leaving us with just the lapdog British PM.

I don't understand why this government would go on a personal vendetta against a political enemy....that has never been their style before. *sarcasm*
posted by Megafly at 3:32 PM on April 21, 2006


"I believe the very obvious point is that the Bush Administration leaks when it is to their advantage BUT....."

Well, the linked article doesn't have anything to do with that. So if that's the "obvious point" I'm having trouble understanding why the post doesn't link to something more on topic.

And even if dhartung is correct and this agent is the one who leaked the story about CIA prisons (which does seem to be the case), I think we all agree that CIA agents are setting themselves up to be fired by leaking classified information. Right? Hardly unexpected.

Look...... I think Bush is evil. Seriously dangerous in a manner that just transcends being a bad president. Actually evil. So posts which are nothing more than limp snarks about how he's involved in some double standard seem petty and vapid to me. The man has pointedly shat on the Bill Of Rights. Isn't there some better way to highlight that? And if not, why bother?
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:36 PM on April 21, 2006


The he is a she, according to MSNBC.

"Intelligence sources tell NBC News the accused officer, Mary McCarthy, worked in the CIA's inspector general's office and had worked for the National Security Council under the Clinton and and George W. Bush administrations."
posted by kimdog at 3:50 PM on April 21, 2006


Your doin' a heck of a job Gossy.

The privacy act should not and is not intended to cover crimes committed against the interests of the United States.
One could rationalize the overthrowing of an elected administration in another country as a necessary evil that serves the interests of the U.S. (if one were so inclined).

One might even be able to rationalize assassination of certain individuals if they were particularly nasty bastards and they might be organizing forces against the U.S.

Indeed there are even situations where human rights may have been abused and certain lines have been crossed where one could consider it perhaps the cost of doing business to serve some greater purpose that justifies it now (again, if one were so inclined).

However, the widespread abuse of prisoners who could be and in some cases are manifestly innocent people as a matter of policy should be intolerable to any person of conscience.

I wouldn't want someone without a conscience, a sociopath, working for my government in any capacity.

The reality is there are certain truths in the intelligence community which cannot or should not be revealed, something like what is occuring at CIA prisons is not one of them.

The American people not only have the right to know, they have the responsibility to know.

Reminds me of the children working in sweatshops thing with Kathy Lee Gifford. She kept protesting "I didn't know." Well, now everyone knows and kids in China are still making 3 cents an hour and apparently people aren't bothered enough by it to stop buying the gear.

Ok, well, now we know about this. We'll see how many people it bothers.

Meanwhile the person with the conscience and the good intentions gets steamrollered for doing us that service.

Pht. Villians ye are and villians ye remain.
(present company excepted of course)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:01 PM on April 21, 2006


undermining national laws becomes a crime only when it is revealed?

Even though I am in favour of whistleblowing & opposed to the illegal wiretapping, this argument is a bit disingenuous. I doubt there is any suggestion that the officer's actions constitute a "crime". More likely, they would be a textbook breach of his terms of employment, no?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:10 PM on April 21, 2006


Thanks, Smedleyman. That was well put.
posted by leftcoastbob at 4:27 PM on April 21, 2006


Well, there's at least one person at the CIA who still has a conscience. Sure, maybe she committed a crime in leaking the information, but she informed the world about a MUCH more heinous crime against humanity.
posted by sacrilicious at 5:01 PM on April 21, 2006


Oh, blah. She signed up for the job; she knew she would have to keep secrets. Her conscience doesn't override her responsibility to secrecy. If she didn't like doing shadowy, possibly illegal things to keep her country safe, she shouldn't have joined the CIA. Spy services can't operate if their employees feel entitled to reveal any program they don't approve of morally.
posted by Dasein at 5:27 PM on April 21, 2006


I will stand behind, and I will stand for, any man or woman who chooses to do the right thing.

Sending people overseas to be tortured is not my "American" ideal of the right thing to do.

This man - or woman - is a hero.

I stand behind them 100%.
posted by rougy at 7:32 PM on April 21, 2006


Dasein writes "Her conscience doesn't override her responsibility to secrecy."

Her responsibility to the CIA does not override her responsibility to the US and its Constitution. In fact her service to the CIA is in service to the US, so the CIA's concerns are subservient to those of the US and its laws.

Dasein writes "If she didn't like doing shadowy, possibly illegal things to keep her country safe, she shouldn't have joined the CIA. Spy services can't operate if their employees feel entitled to reveal any program they don't approve of morally."

Governments cannot operate with the will of the people if they are not bound by the same laws.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:01 PM on April 21, 2006




Her conscience doesn't override her responsibility to secrecy.

I pretty much accept that the CIA and similar operations probably do have to operate somewhat outside the mores that define the society we live in (much less an ideal society). They're gonna have to lie, steal things, and hurt people. To some extent, I understand and can live with that.

To say that they have to throw away their conscience entirely, though, is an invitation to encourage -- if not outright create -- an intelligence service full of sociopaths, and constitutes a practical surrender to institutional corruption.
posted by weston at 8:08 PM on April 21, 2006


weston writes "I pretty much accept that the CIA and similar operations probably do have to operate somewhat outside the mores that define the society we live in (much less an ideal society). They're gonna have to lie, steal things, and hurt people. To some extent, I understand and can live with that.

"To say that they have to throw away their conscience entirely, though, is an invitation to encourage -- if not outright create -- an intelligence service full of sociopaths, and constitutes a practical surrender to institutional corruption."


The only way a spying agency can work well (i.e., in the interests of the citizens) is if it is not allowed to spy on its own citizens, and if there is oversight and strong protections in place for whistleblowers. Such environments as spy agencies operating in secret (and, as a result, often outside the law, but not officially) tend to breed corruption and encourage a sense of lawlessness in its agents. When an ostensible whistleblower gets fired in a public yet secret way, and when the firing is over an offense of which the government itself is accused, it's not a sign of good governmental health. Goss is there to clean house, but not of its problems which hurt the public interest, only of its internal dissent over whether the interests of the Bush administration take precedence over the public interest. His job is to bring the agency firmly into line with current policy objectives, not the law.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:21 PM on April 21, 2006


Agreed, krinklyfig.

I found Vladimir Bukovsky's editorial on torture really compelling when that particular aspect of the CIA's boundaries was being more hotly discussed in the media in December.

Torture isn't the exact boundary under discussion here, but it's an excellent example of what happens without ethical boundaries, and a number of the basic principles Bukovsky invokes would seem to apply to the idea of acting with conscience, even inside the CIA.
posted by weston at 9:05 PM on April 21, 2006


There are times when you have to go with conscience over the rule book - even if the rule book is as serious as this one. Civil disobedience means accepting the consequences. She should absolutely be fired and (if this was a crime) be prosecuted. There have to be high stakes when it comes to this kind of action - if a CIA agent had nothing to lose by leaking, they'd do it all the time.

But the fact that she has to accept the consequences doesn't change the fact that this appears to have been an act of conscience. She's a hero in my book, and may there be more like her who are willing to stand up for what's right even if they themselves are put in jeopardy.

Incidentally, weren't there denials of the secret prison story when it broke? And if a CIA officer has been fired for leaking this classified information, doesn't that, um, strongly suggest that the information was true?
posted by Chanther at 12:10 AM on April 22, 2006


I thought these secret prisons didn't exist. If so, how is it a crime to leak information about something that doesn't exist?

Oh, they do exist? The United States of America HAS SECRET PRISONS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES!

The rest of it is a distraction.
posted by ryoshu at 1:41 AM on April 22, 2006


this really is a warning to other govt officials to shut up.

and Chanther, i think they still haven't admitted the secret prisons all over exist, nor do we know who's being held and why.

it's absolutely disgusting and completely illegal that we even have secret prisons in other countries--it's the kind of thing we used to accuse the Soviets of. We've fallen so far, and still are falling.
posted by amberglow at 1:42 AM on April 22, 2006


and Condi leaking like the rest shows what hypocrites they are--fire her.
posted by amberglow at 1:54 AM on April 22, 2006


The Firing of Mary McCarthy
posted by homunculus at 9:20 AM on April 22, 2006


Personally, I can't fathom the conscience of a person who would let crimes against humanity pass through her inbox and say nothing out of fear of losing her job. I mean, you only live once; is the purpose of this life simply to make the mortgage payments? The fact that there aren't a thousand more whistle-blowers in this rotted-to-the-gills administration suggests that we have a national epidemic of cowardice.

The fact that neocon pundits continue to conflate this cowardice with patriotism continues to baffle and disgust me. Government workers, indeed all citizens, have a higher obligation to the constitution than to any administration.
posted by squirrel at 9:22 AM on April 22, 2006


Actually, ryoshu nailed it. Oh, what a tangled web we weave. THIS will surely be the thing that ......
posted by DesbaratsDays at 10:07 AM on April 22, 2006


This really is their biggest legacy: ... The Criminal-in-Chief, his minions in Congress, and the bought and paid for 'news media' are doing their damndest to desensitize us to their crimes. They want us to come to the point where they'll drop a nuke on someplace in Iran 'intelligence' tells them is a WMD site, and we'll all just shrug our shoulders, just as we did when they invaded Iraq.
We've set up camps in Eastern European nations for the sole purpose of torturing human beings, many innocent. We have secret courts in Guantanamo and American citizens are detained for years without charges filed. Shades of Hitler and Stalin but we just shrug our shoulders.
Once was a time when an American could say, 'no, my country would never do that', and be reasonably certain he was justified. Not saying we're angels, but Americans generally did the right thing. An allegation of torture (especially torture of innocents) would shock us all and we'd demand Congress get to the bottom of it. Now, as long as it doesn't confront our sheltered lives, we don't much give a shit....

posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on April 22, 2006


The fact that all people are talking about is her and them--instead of the horrible things they're doing-- that she revealed -- tells all.
posted by amberglow at 12:41 PM on April 22, 2006




From the Mary McCarthy link above: She could find out about secret prisons if Intelligence Officers involved with that program had filed a complaint with the IG or if there was some incident that compelled senior CIA officials to determine an investigation was warranted. In other words, this program did not come to Mary's attention (if the allegations are true) because she worked on it as an ops officer. Instead, it appears an investigation of the practice had been proposed or was underway. That's another story reporters probably ought to be tracking down.

Looks like there may be a few more CIA officials who still have a conscience. If she found out about this matter through an investigation, it would seem that she felt the investigation wouldn't lead to sufficient changes and took the story to the media instead.
posted by sacrilicious at 3:23 PM on April 22, 2006


All Right, Not All Right
posted by homunculus at 9:59 AM on April 23, 2006




IOKIYAR

The White House is in the midst of purging ALL agents who are not politically and ideologically to their liking.

Remind you of any other leaders/countries in history?
posted by nofundy at 8:24 AM on April 24, 2006




More from Larry Johnson: Between Conscience and Unconscionable
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on April 25, 2006


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