Last night, I also posted a new story for my day job at the National Journal, raising questions about whether there is a double standard for investigations of leaks and other disclsoures of sensitive intelligence informaton.
Is the CIA's case against Mary O. McCarthy not as strong as they and the media first seemed to indicate? A story buried way inside the NYT on Page 17 appears to say as much:
The Central Intelligence Agency on Tuesday defended the firing of Mary O. McCarthy, the veteran officer who was dismissed last week, and challenged her lawyer's own statements that Ms. McCarthy never provided information to the news media.Read the rest of the Times story here.
But intelligence officials would not say whether they believed that Ms. McCarthy had been a source for a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles in the Washington Post about secret C.I.A. detention centers abroad. Media accounts have linked Ms. McCarthy's firing to the articles, but the C.I.A. has never explicitly drawn such a connection.
In response to questions Tuesday, the intelligence officials declined to say whether discussion of the prisons has been part of what they described as a a pattern of unauthorized contacts between Ms. McCarthy and reporters.
One intelligence officials, who was granted anonymity to speak more candidly about the sensitive issue, said it was unclear how much access Ms. McCarthy, who was assigned to the agency's inspector general's office, had to specific details about the secret prison.
Two quick points: If accurate, the Times account and others that have appeared since the inital stories about McCarthy suggest that there is little if any evidence that she leaked classified information to the Washington Post and other news organizations because she simply did not have access to the information. And second, despite some press accounts, that the CIA was not even making that claim in the first place. (Howie Kurtz also did an online column a couple of days ago asking whether the press rushed to judgement.)
The Times account also noted that some "media accounts have linked Ms. McCarthy's firing" to the Post's story on the covert prisons. I wish the Times named them, but in the absence of that being the case, I hope that some media critic or blogger would do so. (As an incentive to anyone contemplating writing such a post or column, this blog will link to you-- and perhaps more than one of my five to seven readers, er, unique visitors will read your site
Another point... (what is a blog for except to go on and on, after all?) my National Journal story discloses that Mary McCarthy was often authorized and designated to speak to the media. That does not mean that she also had unauthorized contacts or perhaps leaked classified information, but there might have been a context to her inadvertently gong too far in conversations with press contacts encouraged by her bosses.
Finally, of course, there is the hypocrisy factor.
And this! This blog gets some attention!