April 21, 2006

CIA Officer Didn't CYA

A CIA agent has been fired for leaking classified information to the media:

CIA officials will not reveal the officer's name, assignment, or the information that was leaked. The firing is a highly unusual move, although there has been an ongoing investigation into leaks in the CIA.

One official called this a "damaging leak" that deals with operational information and said the fired officer "knowingly and willfully" leaked the information to the media and "was caught."

The CIA officer was not in the public affairs office, nor was he someone authorized to talk to the media. The investigation was launched in January by the CIA's security center. It was directed to look at employees who had been exposed to certain intelligence programs. In the course of the investigation, the fired officer admitted discussing classified information including information about classified operations.

The investigation is ongoing.

A Justice Department spokesman said "no comment" on the firing. The spokesman also would not say whether the agency was looking into any criminal action against the officer.

Gee... I wonder who it was?

In all seriousness, this is damaging for certain political factions within the CIA, and was almost certainly a shot across the proverbial bow by Porter Goss, the former agent hired by the President to clean up the Agency. It will be very interesting in the days to come to see if this was an isolated incident, or if this is simply the first in a series of house-cleaning moves long overdue.

Note: A.J. Strata concludes that the CIA was fired for leaks that led to the N.Y. Times publishing the original NSA wire-tapping story. The CIA does appear in the NY Times article, but this AP story ties the firing to the Washington Post's secret prison story from late last year.

Update: Rick Moran brings up the very interesting possibility that since no evidence that the secret prisons ever existed, that the operation that brought down CIA officer Mary McCarthy may have been a sophisticated "sting" to target leakers (h/t Captain Ed).

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 21, 2006 03:02 PM | TrackBack

Fired? Is that all?

My employment could be terminated if I photocopy classified material on an unclassified photocopier.

I would think termination is a gimme.

Posted by: stprice at April 21, 2006 04:07 PM

When I worked at the IRS with taxpayer information I was advised that disclosing information to anyone outside the agency could result in a prison term around ten years in length.

But, you know, this CIA stuff was just a national security matter, so I can see how they'd think just firing them would be sufficient.

Posted by: jmr at April 21, 2006 04:12 PM

Termination at a minimum. If this is a federal crime, the person would be charged, but the authorities would determine that.

But I am not sure how this is any worse than Al Gore going to Saudi Arabia to speak negatively about US anti-terror activities.

Posted by: Twok at April 21, 2006 04:17 PM

"Porter Goss, the former agent hired by the President to clean up the Agency." Don't you think that's a tad disingenuous? Porter Goss is a crony of the President, hired by Bush to purge the CIA of any elements that might resist its further politiciztion.

Posted by: Retief at April 21, 2006 04:24 PM

We won't have to wait long to find out who it is. They will be on the TV this Sunday for the Sunday follies.

Posted by: davod at April 21, 2006 04:27 PM


Your embellishments do not change the fact that Porter Goss was a former agent hired by the President. Oh! by the way. He was also a congressman who was in charge of one of the intelligence committees. I would say that gives him a reasonable background for the job.

Sorry. I understand now. He was from the party of Lincoln, a Republican, therefore he must be a crony. As opposed to someone from the Democrat Party, who would of course be an unbiased dyed-in-the wool patriot.

Posted by: davod at April 21, 2006 04:35 PM

Ha,ha ha, Retief (and I get the reference having reads those books). Yeah sure buddy, be a good little anti war drone.

Robert Ludlum once remarked that CIA stands for "Caught in the Act". I preferred the other equaly apt phrase "Clowns in Action".

The CIA was already politicized and were shilling for their petty little political realist empire. The old go along get along, do not very much, blow up donkeys in the desert, sell out to whatever dictator was riding high at the time, type of ops. So a bunch of these idiots got caught in their little kingmaker schemes. Pardon me, but cry me a river for these little snots who put their personal interests ahead of their country.

Posted by: capt joe at April 21, 2006 04:42 PM

Captain, you have misunderstood Retief. He is not remotely interested in the actual events at the CIA. His concern is to blame Bush, using powerful motive-reading rays.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at April 21, 2006 04:57 PM

Davod: Sure, idiot Dems are fair game, but what this prez is doing and has done is heinously incompetent. I wouldn't sully Lincolns good name through comparison, even if it just party affiliation.

Posted by: Pogue at April 21, 2006 05:30 PM

Pretty unpopular guy in his day, Lincoln. Hadn't of been for Gettysburg, he'd have lost the '64 nomination to McClellan. Who wanted to sue for peace with the south.

What's a little slavery between cousins?

Posted by: lex at April 21, 2006 05:59 PM

I'm sure this will go against the grain on this site, but I have to ask:

Is it illegal to blow the whistle on illegal actions by the government? If this is about Bush's illegal wire-tapping operation, they might not be too smart to bring it to trial because someone will have to answer that question ... on the record.

Posted by: Eclectic Floridian at April 21, 2006 06:06 PM

Nice going, Pogue! Never fail to inject the "Bush is an idiot" theme into any post, even if it has nothing to do with him. It's clearly more important than anything people may be writing about.

Posted by: gil at April 21, 2006 06:08 PM

Is it illegal to blow the whistle on illegal actions by the government?

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether spying on al Qaeda operatives during wartime is "illegal" - richly tempting though it may be - the answer is "It depends on how you 'blow the whistle'."

If you, being lawfully privy to classified information that you believe is evidence of illegal acts, decide to go to the lawful authority established to handle concerns about legality, then no, it's not illegal.

If you instead go to someone who isn't the said lawful authority but who is cleared for the information and would be minded to do something about it - like, say, a cleared Congresscritter - then it's not illegal.

If your method of whistleblowing is instead to go to the New York Times and cause classified information concerning an ongoing and critical intelligence operation to be splashed all over their front page, then yes, I'm afraid it is illegal. Even if your amateur con-law analysis happens to be correct and the operation *is* illegal.

Just speaking hypothetically, that is.

Posted by: jaed at April 21, 2006 06:34 PM

When I was in the military, you can bet your boots that anyone intentionally leaking classified information would be court-martialed. Which is equivalent to a Federal felony. The CIA personnel should be treated no differently.

Posted by: Rex at April 21, 2006 06:45 PM

When they go after these two, Wedia will be impressed:

Posted by: Wedia at April 21, 2006 06:54 PM

The leaker was Mary McCarthy who worked for the unit in the CIA designated to investigate leaks. The leak was about the secret prisons, which Dana Millbank won a Pulitzer for this week, and the European press reported today could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Nice going Dana

Posted by: Jane at April 21, 2006 07:12 PM

Not Dana Milbank, Jane. It was Dana Priest who wrote on the subject of the secret prisons - and she received a Pulitzer for her efforts.

Posted by: Retired Spy at April 21, 2006 07:46 PM

It's Dana Priest not Dana Milbank. My apologies.

Posted by: Jane W at April 21, 2006 07:56 PM


I think you meant the capture of Atlanta in 1864 and the Presidental election, not the nomination.

Posted by: Eric Jablow at April 21, 2006 08:32 PM

I wonder how much Saddam and DNC money passed hands to get this top secret information leaked to the press, after it was released to, who knows. More proof that the dim-wits cannot be trusted with the safety and security of America. They will get us all killed. They have killed half the soldiers and 90% of the Iraqi's that have died in the past two years for their own political agenda. That part is exactly like Vietnam and some of the democratic traitors are also the same. When will we say enough is enough and start shooting traitors like Hanoi John, Bagdad Jim, and Turbin Durbin? They are all traitors and have provided all the proof anyone should need streight from their own mouths.

Posted by: Scrapiron at April 21, 2006 09:28 PM

Clinton Admin Member & Kerry Supporter Fired by CIA

Well, if the MSM were even handed, that title would be what they would use...since if even janitors in this White House were to get into trouble, they would be referred to as a "member of the Bush Administration".

It appears she was a holdover from the Clinton administration. Yeah, that was a good choice, just like Richard Clarke.

While it may or may not have any relevance on the situation, it is telling what Miss McCarthy did with her money when it came to political donations....

Posted by: Chuck Allen at April 21, 2006 10:51 PM

Here's a new twist: Now Condoleeza Rice is alleged to have leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist.

Sauce for the gander?

Posted by: Nealjking at April 22, 2006 12:03 AM

Is it treason or leaking?

Posted by: Rose Maco at April 22, 2006 08:44 AM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said Friday.
Prosecutors disputed the claim.

If the prosecuters dispute and it is a claim made by defense counsel you need to take it with a glacier sized grain of salt, nice strawman though.

Posted by: Oldcrow at April 22, 2006 11:16 PM