Saturday, April 22, 2006

CIA Intel Officer, McCarthy: her firing smells....

From :

April 22, 2006
The Firing of Mary McCarthy
byLarry C Johnson

The case against the CIA Intelligence Officer, Mary McCarthy, fired for her alleged role in leaking information about secret prisons to the Washington Post's Dana Priest smells a little fishy. Let me state at the outset that the officer in question, Mary McCarthy, is an old acquaintance. I hasten to add that I do not consider her a friend. She was my immediate boss in 1988-89 and was instrumental in my decision to leave the CIA and take a job at the State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism. Mary, in my experience, was a terrible manager. I left the CIA in 1989 despite having received two exceptional performance awards during my last eight months on the job because I could not stand working under her.

That said, I take no delight in the news that she was fired. In fact, there are some things about the case that puzzle me. For starters, Mary never worked on the Operations side of the house. In other words, she never worked a job where she would have had first hand operational knowledge about secret prisons. She worked the analytical side of the CIA and served with the National Intelligence Council. According to press reports, she subsequently worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 2001 thru 2005. That is a type of academic/policy wonk position and, again, would not put her in a position to know anything first hand about secret prisons.

Sometime within the last year she returned to CIA on a terminal assignment. I've heard through the grapevine that she was attending the seminar for officers who are retiring while working with the Inspector General (IG). Now things get interesting. 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.

I am struck by the irony that Mary McCarthy may have been fired for blowing the whistle and ensuring that the truth about an abuse was told to the American people. There is something potentially honorable in that action; particularly when you consider that George Bush authorized Scooter Libby to leak misleading information for the purpose of deceiving the American people about the grounds for going to war in Iraq. While I'm neither a fan nor friend of Mary's, she may have done a service for her country. She was a lousy manager in my experience, but she is not a traitor and has not betrayed the identity of an undercover intelligence officer. That dirty work was done by the minions of George Bush and Dick Cheney. It is important to keep that fact in the forefront as the judgment on Mary McCarthy's acts is rendered.

Posted by Larry Johnson on April 22, 2006 at 08:07 AM


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