Apr 23 2006

Media’s McCarthyism

Update: Mac Ranger has an interesting take on all this, always subtexted with ‘there is more coming’. Michelle has her usual link round up here.

End Update

Don’t take the title pf this post too seriously folks, as usual my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek. The Washington Post and NY Times, two news media outlets deeply involved in leaking national security secrets within error ridden stories, address the Mary McCarthy story with some interesting aspects. First up, the Washington Post, which still gives too much voice to EEO-misfits like Larry Johnson (basically someone who does not have the temperment for the job, but because of EEO rules cannot be turned away). The lead in says it all:

The rare firing last week of a CIA officer accused of leaking information to the news media stems both from the sensitivity of the subjects she allegedly discussed and the Bush administration’s forceful efforts to block national security disclosures that have proved embarrassing or caused operational problems, according to current and former intelligence officials.

Nothing about the law, the promise she made when she took the job, the risk to the nation and to our efforts to deal with truly insane people willing to die to take a few hundred of us with them. It was stress.

This is the excuse you will see from the ‘misfits’ throughout this story. Those folks who cannot work within our legal and political system. The folks who cannot tolerate a world not conforming to their views so they feel empowered to change reality as they see fit. It is the new tack for the waning liberal movement. It is their last desperation gasp on the way out. They say so themselves! The policies and guidance of this duly elected administration were too much to bear.

I say: too bad you have no self control, now go to jail. I say the same to people who speed, who rob, who murder. They all have some lame excuse as to why they decided on a life of crime.

But the WaPo does add some nuggets that put the misfits in their proper place and which provide perspective on the Intellience Community in general.

Several former senior intelligence officials said yesterday they could not recall a similar sanction being levied against a serving CIA officer in the past several decades, although they said they would have supported such an action if the agency had been able to trace a leak of a similar nature back to its source.

A majority of CIA officers would probably “find the action taken [against McCarthy] correct,” said a former senior intelligence official who said he had discussed the matter with former colleagues in the past day. “A small number might support her, but the ethic of the business is not to” leak, and instead to express one’s dissenting views through internal grievance channels.

…sources described mixed initial reactions inside the agency to the disclosure of McCarthy’s firing: a widespread condemnation that an intelligence officer was allegedly involved in leaking classified information, in clear violation of CIA rules, coupled with frustration at the set of events that may have provoked it.

This must be a stunning revelation for the news media. I would gather we are talking ratios of 9 to 1 here. The media better understand quickly that the minority they deal with are truly the misfits, hot heads, ax grinders, etc. Will they? I am not sure the news media appreciates what these paragraphs mean to them and to the country. And it will be hard for the press to minimalize the leaks when they get quotes like this:

CIA officials, without confirming the information in the article, have said the disclosure harmed the agency’s relations with unspecified foreign intelligence services. “The consequences of this leak were more serious than other leaks,” said a former intelligence official in touch with senior agency officials.

On the bell curve we see the top ten percent and the bottom ten percent. Typically the top ten get what they want through their own efforts and working with the majority of us normal types to agree and provide support. The ones who fail at convincing the team to go their way go crying to mommy-media. Mommy-media is, of course, only interested in Pulitzers. The whining losers are not whistleblowers, and even the post can only point to their perspnal frustrations for some lame rationale:

To some analysts, the firing is also a sign of unprecedented pressures on officials not to have contacts with the media outside of authorized channels where they convey approved messages.

They extend this ‘it was all too much’ excuse to poor Mary McCarthy:

The inspector general’s combination of independence and access may have been combustible in McCarthy’s case, if allegations about her involvement in leaks prove true.


Larry Johnson, a former State Department counterterrorism expert who worked briefly for McCarthy at the CIA in 1988, said yesterday that if McCarthy were really involved in leaks, she may have concluded that the investigation was “a whitewash, and why not tell the press?

Well, because that was not her call or her job, and none of us elected her President Larry. In fact, the WaPo illustrates the professional, mature path Larry (for future reference):

A former intelligence official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said he knew of CIA officials who had refused to attend meetings related to the rendition — or capture and transfer — of suspected terrorists, because of opposition or anxiety about the legality of the practice.

This is a perfectly legitimate response to such situations. I have used this before myself when asked to do something I was not sure was on the up and up. It sends a signal – to everyone. It is tough to do, but the higher up you are the louder and clearer the signal is. Mary was very high up.

Now on to the NY Times, which takes an even stronger tone against Mary McCarthy’s actions (surprised?). Well, this article is hard to find on the NY Times site. I detected it through Google. The headline article is a pro-McCarthy propoganda piece I dealt with yesterday. This one starts with a bang:

The firing of a veteran Central Intelligence Agency officer who has been accused of leaking classified information is a rare and dramatic move, yet C.I.A. officials say it is only the beginning of a campaign to stanch the unauthorized flow of information from the spy agency.

Emphasis mine again. Well, that is some good news to hear from the NY Times. More McCarthy’s to come.

Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director, has for three months carried out one of the most intensive leak investigations in the agency’s history, using polygraph tests to determine who at the agency may be behind what Mr. Goss says is an explosion of damaging leaks to the news media.

Get the feeling the CIA is serious this time around? Maybe the NY Times feels it is important to warn all their moles to lay low for a while. The NY Times had the most aggregious leak of them all on the NSA story. The only accurate information in that one was what the terrorists needed to know to avoid detection on their way to kill Americans. The rest was a serious of mistatements and inability to grasp what goes on in the government. Like a blind man feeling the tail of an elephant.

Again, in this story, the word hitting the news media is the leaking is NOT considered a time honored tradition in the Intelligence Community:

A former intelligence official who remains in contact with many current C.I.A. officers said Mr. Goss was still viewed as an outsider. “There’s a great sense among C.I.A. folks that the administration regards them as the enemy,” the former official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he said his current employer did not want him to comment publicly on controversial issues. But he said most intelligence officers were “horrified” at leaks and would support the dismissal of leakers.

What I see this morning, in the two newspapers at the center of this storm, is some serious hesitation. There are the normal stories about how all this ‘information’ leaking (which always seems to forget to add the word ‘classified) is a patriotic duty. But we also see these stories, which tell me their sources are telling them this is going to end, and this is not right. We shall see which side wins out. But the impression this leaves on the media must be unsettling. The Intel Community is not with them on this one.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Media’s McCarthyism”

  1. The Web of Leaks…

    Porter Goss has made it a priority to clean up the CIA and eliminate leaks of classified information. That’s what a good director is supposed to do. So, predictably it has meant hard feelings for those who don’t like the fact that the agency is inves…

  2. alcibiades says:

    I don’t think Larry Johnson has done McCarthy much of a favor with his “it was all too much for the little woman to handle” defense.

    That would really argue against having someone like her in her position of responsibility.

  3. Jlmadyson says:

    A nice fiery debate on the Fox News all stars this morning.

  4. Kerry: “Glad” McCarthy “Told The Truth” (Video) …

    Click to Download (.wmv) There is no doubt that the leak of classified information concerning possible CIA prisons in Europe by CIA analyst Mary McCarthy has harmed U.S. national security and put our relationships with European allies on the……