BLOWBACK FOR THE MEDIA: Mary McCarthy is a hero? Howzzat? *UPDATE*

April 25, 2006


Check out Michael Barone’s piece today Here.
Mary Mc Carthy is the now former CIA employee who worked in the CIA inspector general’s office–an office formed to look into the actions of disreptutable agents among other things–
who now admits to having unauthorized [read leaked] contacts with Dana Priest of the Washington Post among other reporters. It is believed, but disputed by her friends, that Mc Carthy handed over info and/or reports to Priest ostensibly showing that the US was running secret prisons holding Al Qaeda big wigs. Apparently holding Al Qaeda big wigs in prison is bad. That they’re secret is apparently bad, too. An oath to secrecy and ten year sentence if you tell secrets notwithstanding, apparently secrecy is a not so dearly held commodity at spook central.
Dana Priest won a Pulitzer Prize for her stories on the secret prisons last week. (See this article here about the general theme running through the Pulitizer selection process here.)
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page weighs in today.

The case of Ms. McCarthy appears to be as egregious as it gets as a matter of partisan politics. She played a prominent role in the Clinton national security apparatus and public records show she gave $2,000 to John Kerry’s Presidential campaign and even more to the Democratic Party. Such is her right. But rather than salute and help implement policy after her candidate lost, she apparently sought to damage the Bush Administration by canoodling with the press.
There is little doubt that the Washington Post story on alleged prisons in Europe has done enormous damage–at a minimum, to our ability to secure future cooperation in the war on terror from countries that don’t want their assistance to be exposed. Likewise, the New York Times wiretapping expos√© may have ruined one of our most effective anti-al Qaeda surveillance programs. Ms. McCarthy denies being the source of these stories. But somebody inside the intelligence community was.

Christopher Hitchens weighs in here:

But now, instead of being rewarded
for her probity, Mary McCarthy has been given the sack. And the
New York
rushes to her aid, with a three-hankie story on April 23, moistly titled “Colleagues Say Fired CIA Analyst Played by the Rules.”
This is only strictly true if she confined her disagreement to official channels, as she did when she wrote to
Clinton in 1998. Sadly enough, the same article concedes that McCarthy may have lied and then eventually told the truth about having unauthorized contact with members of the press.

Well! In that case the remedy is clear. A special counsel must be appointed forthwith, to discover whether the CIA has been manipulating the media. All civil servants and all reporters with knowledge must be urged to comply, and to produce their notes or see the inside of a jail. No effort must be spared to discover the leaker. This is, after all, the line sternly proposed by the New York Times and many other media outlets in the matter of the blessed Joseph Wilson and his martyred CIA spouse, Valerie Plame.

Here’s Hitchens later on the McCarthy analog to Wilson/Plame:
One can argue that national security is damaged by unauthorized leaks, or one can argue that democracy is enhanced by them. But one cannot argue, in the case of a man who says that his CIA wife did not send him to Niger, that the proof that his wife did send him to Niger must remain a state secret. If one concerned official can brief the press off the record, then so can another.
A campaign that furthermore invokes the most reactionary law against disclosure this century: the Intelligence Identities Protection Act?
It was obvious from the first that the press, in taking Wilson and Plame at their own estimation, was fashioning a rod for its own back. I await the squeals that will follow when this rod is applied, which it will be again and again.

See Hitchens’ whole article here.
Here is his reportage of the Niger meetings which Joe Wilson makes light of here and here.
Thomas Josecelyn connects the Mary McCarthy dots here.
Check out this conversation with the WaPo ombudsman here that is quite illuminating.

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