Monday, May 29, 2006

Hayden Speaks

By Melissa Boyle Mahle
The confirmation hearing for General Hayden as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) offered a lot of food for thought—all six hours of it. I was disappointed in the quality of questions from many of our elected leaders, but I guess that just indicates the degree to which partisan politics outweigh substance in Washington. Without doing a blow by blow, or referring back to the transcripts as a crib sheet, I offer the following impressions:

Loyalty

Hayden opened with a statement of appreciation to the workforce of his former agency, the National Security Agency. Wow! This was a powerful demonstration that the boss is supportive of his troops, in good and in difficult times, even when he no longer is their boss. This message will not be lost on the folks at CIA.

Honesty

Hayden did not wobble on his pro-reform message. He did it in an in-your-face way by praising the work and person of the out-going director, Porter Goss. He basically said that he (Hayden) will continue on the same reform path that Goss paved. Let’s be specific here: He will not back away from integrating the CIA into the Intelligence Community (IC). Operations (now call National Collection Service-NCS) will not reign supreme. Analysts will share.

Backbone

Hayden was very respectful and engaging during the confirmation hearing. In the many questions about his role in the domestic surveillance program, he explained what and when he did and why he did it. When he ran up against secrecy requirements, he pledged to answer the questions in closed session. When our elected representatives got a bit hostile, Hayden showed his backbone, staying his ground, ultimately telling them that they would have to judge his character. That was a nuclear strike as far as I was concerned. Here is a guy who has devoted his entire life to serving his country, made the rank of general, under hostile questions when the nation is at war, played the big card of ‘look at me and my past—do you think I’d be sitting in this chair today, with the full confidence of the DNI and the President, if I did not have the character to serve?!’

Vision

This is where I think our representatives failed in their questioning. We only got a glimpse of Hayden’s vision. But I must admit that I like what I heard.

Hayden said he wants to get the CIA back to work and out of the news. As a leader, he will provide head coverage so that the workforce can take the risks they need to do their job. He said it is time to end the “archaeology” of examining past failures and successes. When he said that, I immediately flashed back to George Tenet’s confirmation hearing as DCI. It sounded good then, just as it sounds good now. There is only one problem with this. Until the CIA figures out what it is doing wrong and why, it will not be able to fix it. There is no lessons learned process at Langley. Furthermore, until the CIA rebuilds its public credibility and public trust, it will not be out of the news. Hayden will need a big success to turn the public debate around. Again, remembering the Tenet years, he had a huge success right away, the apprehension of the guy that killed the CIA officers on Langley’s front door step.

Hayden did not support breaking up the CIA. Good. He seemed open to the idea of a new super secret organization for non-traditional human collection, but also seemed to want to make the current structure work first.

Oversight

Hayden pledged to work closely with the oversight committees. All directors do this. What I found more interesting was Roberts little tantrum about how the oversight committee handled the limited briefing on the wireless tapping op by NSA. He did not like the flak he was getting from the Democrats on the committee that were not included in the initial briefings. He insisted that he was knowledgeable, asking all the right questions and that oversight was in great shape.

The lady doeth protest too much. Oversight is broken, has always been broken and will likely always be broken. The model is wrong. The whole wiretap problem is an example of Congress not doing its job. The President was correct that we need to be able to look inside the US for threats. Congress’ job is to create the legislative framework to keep the nation safe and protect civil liberties. Congress needs to fix FISA so that this and other domestic intelligence collection operations can function under judicial review.

Confirmation
For those who thought it would be a hard confirmation, you were wrong. The politics involved guaranteed quick confirmation. The mid-term elections are rapidly approaching. No one wants to look soft on national security right now. Delaying the confirmation would look bad. Hayden was an excellent choice given his credentials. Now he just has to prove that he can do the job.

General Hayden, we are all watching you and good luck!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Domestic Spying and the NSA

By Melissa Boyle Mahle

In the New York Times this Sunday, 14 May, I will have an op-ed on the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden as the new head of the CIA. I am certain that I will get some negative feedback related to emerging press stories about the NSA and domestic spying. I stand by my assessment in the op-ed even more because this latest story of NSA out of the box thinking tells me that Hayden is creative, recognizes a good idea when he sees one and will bring fresh air to the CIA.

First of all, I think the NSA program to collect domestic telephone records to be exactly the kind of program that we need to have in the global war on terror. People forget very quickly it seems that on 9/11 we found ourselves blind domestically. We had no idea what terrorists might be doing inside the USA. Worse yet, we had a ton of intelligence indicating contact between known terrorists overseas and individuals in the USA.

There are several aspects of the operation that legitimately should be questioned because it is essentially a large fishing operation. Intel agencies are free to fish overseas, but domestically it runs counter to our ethos and sometimes our laws. Are civil liberties sufficiently protected? Is it legal? Has Congress been briefed? Is the gain worth the risk?

In order to answer these questions, you need to understand how the program works. Richard Falkenrath’s op-ed in the Washington Post today provides a good description.

The Right Call on Phone Records
The NSA's Program Safeguards Security -- and Civil Liberties
By Richard A. Falkenrath
Washington Post
Saturday, May 13, 2006; A17

On Thursday, USA Today reported that three U.S. telecommunications companies have been voluntarily providing the National Security Agency with anonymized domestic telephone records -- that is, records stripped of individually identifiable data, such as names and place of residence. If true, the architect of this program deserves our thanks and probably a medal. That architect was presumably Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and President Bush's nominee to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The potential value of such anonymized domestic telephone records is best understood through a hypothetical example. Suppose a telephone associated with Mohamed Atta had called a domestic telephone number A. And then suppose that A had called domestic telephone number B. And then suppose that B had called C. And then suppose that domestic telephone number C had called a telephone number associated with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The most effective way to recognize such patterns is the computerized analysis of billions of phone records. The large-scale analysis of anonymized data can pinpoint individuals -- at home or abroad -- who warrant more intrusive investigative or intelligence techniques, subject to all safeguards normally associated with those techniques.

Clearly, there is a compelling national interest in understanding and penetrating such terrorist networks. If the people associated with domestic telephone numbers A, B and C are inside the United States and had facilitated the Sept. 11 attacks, perhaps they are facilitating a terrorist plot now. The American people rightly expect their government to detect and prevent such plots…


Protection of Civil Liberties?

Nobody wants to have their telephone conversations taped and held for posterity in some USG vault. This program does not do that. It is simply a data base of tolling records stripped of every thing but telephone calls made and received, date and time. This is a very efficient design and gives utmost protection to personal privacy. Polling indicates most Americans feel sufficiently protected with the controls set up in the system as described publicly. But oversight of the program by Congress is critical to ensure abuses do not occur.

Is it Legal?

I am no lawyer and others must weigh in on this. But is seems to me that the Patriot Act covers this type of collection. Coming on the heels of the warrantless wiretap controversy, I think that we should run this question to ground. If it is not legal, then Congress needs to create legislation to address it.

Has Congress Been Briefed?

Our representatives are being a bit coy on this. It is a secret program. It is difficult to confirm that there have been briefings without confirming that there is a secret program. Reading the tea leaves, however, it sounds like it was briefed to the oversight committees, not just the Gang of Eight. Oversight should address issues of legality and appropriateness. Oversight should also address controls. What happens to the data? Is it stored indefinitely? Who has access to it and under what circumstances? Can law enforcement use the data base for criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism?

Is the Gain worth the Risks?

As a fishing operation, there must be a net assessment at some point that the operation is worth continuing. Collecting data for years that never or only seldom produces a significant intelligence lead is a poor use of resources. NSA will have to make the assessment, but Congress must be diligent in demanding to see periodic reviews. From my past experience, I know that terrorist toll data information is very useful in connecting cells and figuring out the command and control structure. Having a data base that goes back years gives you confidence that you are seeing a large piece of the fabric. But at the end of the day, the data base must demonstrate its usefulness or you make the mental note that it is not worth the time to check it every time you get a phone number.

And Leaks

Why are we even talking about this? This is a secret program. I don’t think terrorists are stupid and they know that we are monitoring the phones and the internet in the US and around the world. However, I know terrorists can get lazy, use bad tradecraft and leave footprints behind. Telephone calls are footprints. Not only what is said in them, but the very fact that they took place. Why do we have to remind the bad guys that we are looking for these particular kinds of footprints?

Once again, all leaks are bad.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Another Short Chapter: D/CIA Porter Goss

By Melissa Boyle Mahle


President Bush announced the resignation of D/CIA Porter Goss Friday afternoon. There was little in explanation in answer to why and why now. First I would note that Friday afternoon CIA news is getting to be routine. Maybe the mainstream press goes to bed for the weekend, but not the blogosphere. So by Monday morning, the tone of the commentary will already be set.

Why Resign?

This folks is Washington accountability. We have called for it. Prayed for it. And finally are seeing it. Goss was sent to the CIA to turn around a big ship that was lost in the storm post 9/11. He arrived as the Director of Central Intelligence and left heading a much smaller portfolio of Director of the CIA. Despite a whittling down of his job description, he never took control of the ship.

We should be fair. Goss arrived with a reform agenda. The CIA is terribly resistant to reform. Early mis-steps, however, resulted in a lack of trust between the Seventh Floor and the rest of the organization. We all know that if you don’t trust somebody, you will not agree to be led down a long dark alley way to an unknown destination on the basis of “orders from above”. So, Goss got a lot of push back when he presented his vision for reform.

What Goss wanted to do was to transform basic structures on how the CIA did its business. Henceforth, the CIA would integrate internally and externally. The Directorate of Operations transformed in name to the National Clandestine Services (NCS), but senior managers resisted the vision because ultimately they were not to be part of it. No, they would not lose their jobs, but their career would no longer be the model for success. The terms of reference would be so different, what kind of jobs offered prestige, what meant success, who would influence and shape the new path, they would become bit players, has-beens of another age.

So we saw resignations of senior officials, falling on their swords to prevent Goss from “ruining” the service. We saw a lot of fireworks about the Gosslings (staff surrounding Goss), on how disrespectful there were of seasoned officers. We saw a hemorrhage of mid-level officers leaving the CIA for greener pastures at DOD. We saw growing criticism from outside, questioning why Goss was not transforming the Agency along the lines of his vision. Finally, we saw greater discussion of perhaps the better way was to break up the CIA, so that it could be a HUMINT agency and really specialize. Goss resisted this, maybe his Case Officer instincts or political antenna told him to do so. Breaking up the CIA is the first step to abolishing it.

So, a critical mass of misdeeds, poor performance and growing disappointment, probably shared by Goss, led to the resignation.

Why Now?

There has been much speculation in the press that there was a triggering event. This may be true. However, I would note that there have rumors for months now that Goss wanted to resign.

There has been speculation that his resignation was related to a growing internal scandal that threatens to implicate a senior CIA official, Dusty Foggo, in a corruption scandal connected to the bribery case of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Did Goss fall on his sword to protect Foggo from being fired? Personally, I doubt it. Goss is not the kind of guy that falls on his sword to protect a controversial figure inside the NCS. The firing of Foggo would stir internal criticism, especially coming on the heels of the firing of Mary McCarthy, but I don’t think it would have been a uniting issue for the work force that would have caused a mutiny, particularly within the NCS.

I suspect the timing has to do with politics. Bolton is hard at work putting together a new team for the Bush Administration that will take it through to the end of the term. Bolton is taking rapid action because time is short; the mid-term elections are just a few months away. Since Goss was not expected to stay on, now was the time to leave.

What Next?

There is a lot of speculation on who will be the next head of the CIA. Interestingly, the press is reporting that it will likely be General Hayden, the Deputy Director for National Intelligence. When the ODNI was set up, I doubt that anyone thought of it as the spawning ground for IC agency chiefs, but it may very well have this function.

What the CIA really needs in its next leader is a non-political, strong leader, with influence. Hayden could provide this. He has a military background, which is always a plus—look at the history of who has populated senior positions at the CIA. He is a strong leader and has a reputation for doing well in hard jobs. He is a technical guy, which might be a problem for the NCS. It reminds me of the DCI Deutch years. Deutch did not value HUMINT as much as he did technical collection. He put at the head of the DO someone who did not really understand the DO, or think it particularly special. It was not a very good time for DO officers. This will be something to watch if indeed Gen. Hayden in anointed.

Other names from the ODNI are being floated as well. Personally, I think Hayden is the best bet. Anyone coming from the ODNI will have the ear of DNI Negroponte, which will strengthen the new structure.

All in all, I see this transition in a positive light. Goss was not working out. Here is a chance to get it right, re-invigorate the CIA, right-set morale and get everybody back to the business at hand: building the most capable IC.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Leakscape

By Melissa Boyle Mahle

In the past week, numerous individuals have commented publicly and privately on the leak investigation and firing of CIA official Mary McCarthy. The political right has weighed in accusing the CIA once more of playing politics. The political left and the media have stepped forward to defend the "need to leak" if not the “right to leak”. Ms. McCarthy, through her lawyer, has denied being the source of the leak on secret CIA prisons. If it wasn’t such a serious topic, I’d be on the floor laughing at Washington once again gone amok.

But first of all, I want to offer an apology to Ms. McCarthy. In my blog last week, I grappled with the impossible idea of a CIA official willfully leaking to destroy an on-going operation. I had a hard time getting my mind around the idea, like so many other former insiders. Ms. McCarthy says she didn’t do it and the CIA has now clarified its statement not directly linking Ms. McCarthy to the Dana Priest Washington Post article on secret prisons. The operative issue is contacts with the press, not leaking.

While I must say this is all still very murky, a different picture emerges of a CIA in a targeted security program of identifying officers with unauthorized contacts with the press. This is a much larger program and indeed it fits with the statements of D/CIA Goss on his intention to stop leaks. All leaks. This includes statements critical of his leadership to books and articles on the inner workings at the CIA or on foreign and intelligence policy issues in general.

The polygraph is a very blunt instrument and not accurate. If an officer registers any discomfort on a question, the polygrapher will hone in on the issue. After being asked the same question 100 times, the poor person on the box is feeling so beat up that the emotional reaction gets stronger and stronger as a function of the test, not the issue. Once there is suspicion, it is impossible to make it go away. The CIA just does not accept exculpatory information, even if it comes from a CIA counterintelligence investigation. Suspicion equals guilt. Putting this in the context of Ms. McCarthy, it is easy to imagine that an admission of contacts with the press becomes a presumption of leaks to the press. How do you prove a negative?

Was Ms. McCarthy’s firing intended to be an example for the work force? A signal that the CIA is serious about stopping all leaks? Yes. Will it make the CIA even more insular? Yes. Will it help or harm morale? It depends. They are against leaks of classified information. The workforce does not think that this kind of leaking is a serious problem. Views on internal management, politicization, dissent and intelligence policy—many don’t consider these as classified and therefore not leaks. Goss, however, has a different view. If officers cannot find internal ways to address issues and they cannot use external levers for change, they will simply vote with their feet—which they are already doing.

The press has been full of articles and opinion pieces of leaking, the CIA and security in general. Below is a sampling of the more interesting ones.

Washington Post
Polygraph Results Often in Question
CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes
By Dan Eggen and Shankar Vedantam
Monday, May 1, 2006; A01

The CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies are using polygraph machines more than ever to screen applicants and hunt for lawbreakers, even as scientists have become more certain that the equipment is ineffective in accurately detecting when people are lying.

Instead, many experts say, the real utility of the polygraph machine, or "lie detector," is that many of the tens of thousands of people who are subjected to it each year believe that it works -- and thus will frequently admit to things they might not otherwise acknowledge during an interview or interrogation.

Many researchers and defense attorneys say the technology is prone to a high number of false results that have stalled or derailed hundreds of careers and have prevented many qualified applicants from joining the fight against terrorism. At the FBI, for example, about 25 percent of applicants fail a polygraph exam each year, according to the bureau's security director.

The polygraph has emerged as a pivotal tool in the CIA's aggressive effort to identify suspected leakers after embarrassing disclosures about government anti-terrorism tactics. The agency fired a veteran officer, Mary O. McCarthy, on April 20, alleging that she had shared classified information and operational details with The Washington Post and other news organizations, a charge her lawyer disputes.

CIA officials have said that McCarthy failed more than one polygraph examination administered by the CIA, but the details surrounding those interviews remain unclear. Dozens of senior-level CIA officials have been subjected to polygraph tests as part of the inquiry, which is aimed at identifying employees who may have talked to reporters about classified programs, including providing information about the agency's network of secret prisons for terrorism suspects.

"The reason an officer at CIA was terminated was for having unauthorized contact with the media and the improper release of classified information," said Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman. "Don't think in terms of a failure of a polygraph being the reason for termination -- the polygraph is one tool in an investigative process."

In the popular mind, fueled by Hollywood representations, polygraphs are lie-detection machines that can peer inside people's heads to determine whether they are telling the truth.

The scientific reality is far different: The machines measure various physiological changes, including in blood pressure and heart rate, to determine when subjects are getting anxious, based on the idea that deception involves an element of anxiety. But because an emotion such as anxiety can be triggered by many factors other than lying, experts worry that the tests can overlook smooth-talking liars while pointing a finger at innocent people who just happen to be rattled.

In settings in which large numbers of employees are screened to determine whether they are spies, the polygraph produces results that are extremely problematic, according to a comprehensive 2002 review by a federal panel of distinguished scientists. The study found that if polygraphs were administered to a group of 10,000 people that included 10 spies, nearly 1,600 innocent people would fail the test -- and two of the spies would pass.

"Its accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies," the panel concluded.

Polygraph test results are also generally inadmissible in federal courts and in most state courts because of doubts about their reliability. Statements or admissions made by test subjects during a polygraph session, however, can often be used by prosecutors at trial, according to legal experts.

But even critics of the polygraph concede that it can help managers learn things about employees that would otherwise remain hidden. That aspect of polygraph testing lies at the heart of its continuing appeal, said Alan Zelicoff, a former scientist at Sandia National Laboratories who quit because he believed that polygraphs are unethical.

Although polygraph tests involving national security are supposed to be about a handful of questions involving espionage, Zelicoff said the tests take hours: "In each and every test, what happens is after question two or three the questioner will pause and very deliberately take a long hard look at the chart and take a deep breath and sigh and say, 'You did really well on question one, but on the second question, about whether you released classified information, I am getting a strange reading. Tell you what -- I am going to turn the machine off and I am going to ask whether there is something you want to get off your chest.' "

"That is what the polygraph is about," said Zelicoff, who has testimony from several employees who are angry about the tests. "It is about an excuse to conduct a wide-ranging inquisition."

The subjective opinions of polygraph examiners play a huge role in whether people are said to pass or fail, said William Iacono, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota who has extensively studied the technique. As evidence, Iacono said that polygraph tests rarely find problems among senior staff members at organizations, even as 30 to 40 percent of applicants for entry-level positions fail.

"The director of the CIA just took a test," said Iacono. "How would you like to be the examiner who gave him a test and say he failed? What kind of a career would you have?"

The president of the American Polygraph Association, T.V. O'Malley, said polygraph technology is held to an unfair standard in many cases, and he compared it to mammograms and other medical screening procedures that are imperfect but valuable in detecting problems. He also acknowledged that some of the polygraph's value is simply in prompting people to tell the truth.

"It's kind of like confessing . . . to a priest: You feel a little better by getting rid of your baggage," O'Malley said. "The same thing often happens with a polygraph examination."

Charles S. Phalen Jr., the FBI's assistant director for security, said the polygraph is a vital component of the bureau's security program.

"This is the most effective collection tool that we have in our arsenal of security tools to identify disqualifying behavior and disqualifying activities," Phalen said. "I will never sit here and say this is a perfect tool because it's not. . . . In and of itself it won't produce the truth, but it's a way at getting at the truth."

The ubiquity of polygraph testing in the federal government is due in large part to spy scandals that rocked the government over the past dozen years, including those involving Aldrich Ames at the CIA and Robert P. Hanssen at the FBI. Ames was allowed to continue working despite questionable polygraph results, whereas Hanssen was never given a lie-detector exam during his long FBI career.

Previous efforts to implement wide-scale testing were met with fierce opposition not only from rank-and-file employees but also from senior government officials. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan scaled back an order requiring thousands of government employees to submit to polygraphs after Secretary of State George P. Shultz threatened to resign if ordered to take one.

As part of changes implemented after Hanssen's arrest in 2001, the FBI now conducts about 8,000 polygraph tests each year, most of which involve current employees, applicants and contractors. All applicants and new employees undergo a polygraph at the FBI, and nearly every employee -- including the director -- is subject to a new test every five years, officials said.

The CIA enacted broader testing policies after Ames's unmasking. At the Department of Energy, which implemented changes as a result of the Wen Ho Lee case, about 20,000 employees are currently eligible for mandatory polygraph screening tests. (Lee, a former nuclear weapons scientist, was held by the government for purportedly smuggling weapon-design secrets to China; all but one charge was dropped.)

The Department of Energy is considering scaling back its program to focus on 4,500 employees with access to the most sensitive information, in large part because of the 2002 analysis by the federal panel, according to a congressional report released last week.

Many scientists who criticize polygraphs as a screening tool say the machines can be effective when used as part of a "guilty-knowledge test." In a bank robbery investigation, for example, suspects could be quizzed in multiple-choice tests on whether they knew if the weapon used was a gun or a knife, whether the money taken was $10, $1,000 or $10,000.

Focused questions that test whether people have memory of an event yield far more reliable results than open-ended screening tests that rely on emotions that can be triggered by a wide range of factors, said Iacono, who added that the federal government has resolutely refused to use the guilty-knowledge test. Officials have declined to describe the kind of tests McCarthy underwent at the CIA.

Iacono said conventional polygraph tests have little scientific validity but allow examiners to say, "I am getting the sense you are holding something back; is there something you want to tell me?"

"When people hear that, they admit things it would be difficult to get in any other way," he said. "People will confess to crimes or make admissions about themselves or other people. They may reveal suspicions about a co-worker or explain they did something they should not have done. The government loves that."

Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


New York Times
There Are Leaks. And Then There Are Leaks.
By SCOTT SHANE
April 30, 2006

WASHINGTON

AN intelligence leaker is a hero, risking career and more to reveal warrantless eavesdropping, interrogations bordering on torture, prisons out of reach of American law. Or the leaker is a villain, whose treachery endangers the lives of American operatives, exposes intelligence methods and scares off foreign agents.

Or a little bit of both.

In fact, American intelligence leaks have created divisions since the Revolutionary War, when the pamphleteer Thomas Paine publicized documents containing a state secret: that the United States received covert aid from France before it openly became an ally. Paine was forced to resign as secretary of a Congressional committee in 1779.

America's mixed feelings on leaks have rarely been on such striking display as they were this month. Three days after The Washington Post and The New York Times won Pulitzer Prizes for articles based on classified intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency fired a senior official, Mary O. McCarthy, for unauthorized disclosure of secrets to the press. And last week, Karl Rove, President Bush's political adviser, was back before a grand jury investigating whether administration officials had leaked a covert C.I.A. official's identity.

Without leaks, says Anthony A. Lapham, a former C.I.A. general counsel, there might never have been public debate over some measures used by intelligence agencies to fight terrorism. He thinks the debate may be worth whatever damage the leaks have done. But he cannot bring himself to approve of the leakers.

"There's a premise that it's O.K. for someone to leak because they're serving a higher purpose, a higher loyalty," he said. "Well, the next thing you know, you have a whole building full of people with a higher loyalty, each to a different principle. And pretty soon you don't have a functioning intelligence agency."

In the last three decades, there have been several other episodes in which an intelligence leak generated a national debate over the benefits and harm of such disclosures.

In 1974, for example, Seymour Hersh, then a reporter for The New York Times, chronicled the details of what government sources had leaked to him: a 690-page compilation of agency break-ins, wiretapping and reading of mail, plus files on 10,000 Americans.

Mr. Hersh began his Dec. 22, 1974, article: "The Central Intelligence Agency, directly violating its charter, conducted a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation during the Nixon Administration against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States, according to well-placed government sources."

The article prompted a presidential commission and two Congressional inquiries, leading to new laws governing the spy agencies. Mr. Hersh, now with The New Yorker, declined to comment on his reporting or on leaks. "I never talk about sources," he said.

But Loch K. Johnson, an intelligence expert at the University of Georgia who served as a staff member on the Senate's Church Committee in 1975, did. "It's a beautiful example of how the press is really the most important overseer of intelligence in this country," Mr. Johnson said.

Then there was the case of Philip Agee, a C.I.A. officer from 1957 to 1969, serving mostly in Latin America. Mr. Agee gradually became not just a critic, but an avowed enemy of the agency and its mission. In a series of articles and books, he published the names of undercover C.I.A. officers and their agents. His books named more than 4,000 alleged C.I.A. operatives. "Millions of people all over the world had been killed or at least had had their lives destroyed by the C.I.A. and the institutions it supports," Mr. Agee told a Playboy interviewer in 1975. "I couldn't just sit by and do nothing."

But Mr. Agee's actions were widely condemned as leaking for the purpose of destruction, not reform; he was a leading figure in a practice that became a cottage industry for some radical publications in the 1970's. Most notoriously, a magazine called CounterSpy identified Richard Welch as the C.I.A. station chief in Athens and 18 months later, he was assassinated there. Mr. Agee has denied any responsibility for the death.

The work of Mr. Agee, who in recent years has run a travel agency in Cuba, inspired its own reform: the Intelligence Identities Act of 1982, which banned the disclosure of the names of undercover officers. One of the few investigations conducted under the law is the one in which Mr. Rove is now involved.

While liberals have generally been more inclined to suspicion of intelligence agencies, leaks have also come from conservatives. David S. Sullivan, for example, was forced to resign as an agency analyst in 1978 after he gave classified documents on strategic arms limitation talks with the Soviet Union to Richard Perle, then an aide to Senator Henry M. Jackson. Like Mr. Jackson, Mr. Sullivan was a hawk who believed, as he argued in a 1978 article, that the Soviets used arms talks as a "smokescreen" to hide their nuclear superiority.

Mr. Perle had a security clearance, but the leak to him was unauthorized.

Stansfield Turner, then director of central intelligence, later told a reporter that Mr. Sullivan had "jeopardized important secrets for our country." "He quit 30 seconds before I fired him," Mr. Turner said. Mr. Sullivan's conservative admirers disagreed, and he was hired as a Senate staffer.

A leaker does not have to work for an intelligence agency to face discipline. In 1996, the C.I.A. forced Richard A. Nuccio, a State Department official, out of his job by stripping him of his security clearance.

Mr. Nuccio had found evidence that a Guatemalan Army officer and C.I.A. informant, Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez, might have played a role in the death of Efraín Bamaca, a Guatemalan guerrilla leader married to an American, Jennifer Harbury.

Mr. Nuccio gave the information to Senator Robert G. Torricelli , Democract of New Jersey, who quickly made it public. The C.I.A. director, John Deutch , fired two agency officials for their roles in the Guatemala affair. But he upheld a decision to revoke Mr. Nuccio's clearance.

Mr. Deutch also began to require special approval for the use of unsavory characters as agency informants — a policy suspended after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when officers argued that only terrorists would know of plans for the next attack.

The change in policy was immediately leaked to the press.


USA Today Editorial
All leaks aren't equal; it's the meaning that matters
Posted 4/27/2006 6:35 PM ET

For those not paying close daily attention, here's a catch-up on the Bush administration's hunt to uncover people who leak information it wants hidden:

•Wednesday, President Bush's closest political ally, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, was called for the fifth time before a grand jury exploring the leak of a CIA operative's name. Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff is already under indictment as part of this probe; he says Bush himself authorized his disclosures.

•Last week, in an unrelated incident, the CIA very publicly fired a high-ranking CIA officer for unspecified leaks — which she denies.

•Meanwhile, hunts continue to discover who provided information to The Washington Post and The New York Times for two stories that embarrassed the administration. One disclosed that the CIA had been operating a covert prison system for gloves-off interrogation of terrorism suspects, possibly violating U.S. and international laws. The other revealed the government was eavesdropping without court warrants on telephone conversations of thousands of U.S. residents.

Are these, as the administration claims, outrageous leaks that jeopardize national security? Or are they attempts by honest people to expose abuse of power?

The vast majority of Washington leaks are neither. They usually have nothing to do with national security, and they come from a politician, bureaucrat or lobbyist trying to manipulate the news media into peddling a selective version of reality on a no-name basis.

But occasionally, a leak is something more.

Coincidentally, a memoir arrived this week from Watergate's "Deep Throat." It reminds us that some leaks are leaks of conscience, from public-spirited individuals trying to blow the whistle on government practices at odds with American ideals.

W. Mark Felt, then second-in-command at the FBI, writes: "From the start, it was clear that senior administration officials were up to their necks in this mess, and that they would stop at nothing to sabotage our investigation." Events proved how right he was.

Felt is one of many. Defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon papers in 1971, after he couldn't get anyone in the administration or Congress to take seriously the implications of the detailed history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam that he had compiled.

More recently, a still-unidentified person leaked the photos of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib, sensing that the only way to stop such practices was to appeal to the sensibilities of the public.

Harmful to U.S. interests? Definitely. Essential to protect U.S. values? No doubt. The same dichotomy applies in the secret-prison and wiretapping stories.

Nor is the leak of conscience limited to government. Embarrassed employees of the tobacco industry exposed its coverup aimed at denying the deadliness of their product.

That is not to say that employees anywhere should have free rein to say anything. At the CIA, for instance, employees are generally prohibited from talking to the news media or writing about their experiences. Even in more normal circumstances, confidentiality is essential to conducting business.

But as the leak probes continue, it's important to maintain a distinction between those who leak to help themselves and those who leak, at personal risk, to let the public know its leaders are flouting law or abusing power.

People can decide whether the programs and policies exposed are noble or shameful — just as they were able to draw conclusions about Watergate, Vietnam, Abu Ghraib and the tobacco industry. And despite the cries of those who would operate in secret, isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?


Wall Street Journal COMMENTARY
Leak Soup
By VICTORIA TOENSING
April 29, 2006; Page A8

No, there's not a recent deluge of leaks of classified information. The numbers are consistent with those in the past couple of decades. What is different today is that the kid gloves are off regarding the government's treatment of reporters. Thanks to the clamoring by editorial pages of many major newspapers -- which resulted in Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald investigating the publishing of CIA employee Valerie Plame's name -- case law makes it clear that journalists can be hauled before the grand jury and forced to cough up their sources, or face Miller time in jail.

Editorial writers professed to be shocked and appalled by the leaking that led to columnist Bob Novak publishing Ms. Plame's name (in the context that perhaps nepotism was involved in the CIA sending her husband on a mission for which he was unqualified). The Chicago Tribune ranted that "there is a burden on the Justice Department and the White House to prove that they will pursue this aggressively and honestly. . . . If someone in leaked classified information . . . boot him out and let the prosecutors deal with him." "The leakers should be prosecuted," railed the Dallas Morning News, joyful that the CIA asked the Justice Department to investigate. The Los Angeles Times echoed that sentiment.

The Providence Journal declared that if people at the White House leaked, "heads should roll" and called Bob Novak's reporting "despicable." The most legally unsophisticated response was from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, characterizing the charges as "perilously close to treason." The only debate for the media in the fall of 2003 was whether the Justice Department or a special counsel should investigate the matter.

John Ashcroft's Justice Department bowed to the pressure and appointed Mr. Fitzgerald, a prosecutor who pursued alleged leakers with the same vigor, legal tools and blinders he had used against terrorists. Without ever establishing an underlying crime, he managed to tie in knots numerous media giants, including Time magazine and the New York Times. Time's Matthew Cooper agreed to testify just before the jail cell clanked shut, but the Times's Judith Miller spent 85 days in the clink. In the process, Mr. Fitzgerald firmly established that when the government pursues a leak of merely alleged classified information, the reporter loses.

Now the press wants to backpedal on leak investigations. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say it is only a coincidence that their initial ardor for a leak investigation -- when a conservative columnist "exposed" a spouse of a media darling because he criticized the Bush administration -- cooled once the New York Times and the Washington Post published stories "exposing" a National Security Agency surveillance program and purported secret prisons outside the United States.

Today the debate is about what constitutes a "good" or "bad" leak. And it's the White House's fault that classified information is leaked. According to Washington Post columnist David Broder, only when the administration is ready "to explain itself . . . will there be fewer Mary McCarthys contemplating the costs -- and burdens -- of leaking to the press." Sympathy is being elicited as the press characterizes her termination as "not fair" because, by contrast, the reporter got a Pulitzer for publishing the same information she had leaked. One MSNBC anchor even asked whether she should be described as a "sacrificial lamb." So much for "booting out" the leaker.

Doesn't the press know that if Ms. McCarthy, or any other government employee, is concerned about conduct involving classified information, there is a federal whistleblower statute that permits her to report it to either the agency's inspector general or Congress? The decision to prosecute leaks of classified information cannot be distorted through a moralistic prism of whether the leaks are "right" or "wrong." To do so ignores the damage done in the same way as excusing a violent terrorist attack because those who maimed and killed innocent civilians did so for a "good reason."

The government must decide whether to prosecute leaks by evaluating the following factors: the gravity of harm to national security because of the information compromised, whether there is a law prohibiting the disclosure of that information, and whether a prosecution would further harm national security by disclosing even more classified information. The factor that used to be a deterrent to a criminal leak investigation when I worked for the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department -- whether to subpoena a journalist -- is no longer that much of a hindrance.

During my tenure in government a leak investigation might begin, but everyone knew that when it got down to the nitty-gritty of subpoenaing the reporter the investigation would grind to a halt. By that time, whoever had called for the investigation, usually a member of Congress (but never the press), had moved on to other matters. And the Justice Department would get credit for at least having gone through the motions.

When my husband and law partner, Joseph diGenova, was independent counsel for the leak of information about President Clinton's passport, he decided not to subpoena the journalists who had published the information after he contacted them and they said they would refuse to name their sources. He made the decision by weighing the seriousness of an actual crime -- a Privacy Act violation -- against possibly sending reporters to jail. Concern for the reporters prevailed.

In Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation, he has yet to provide any evidence there was an actual crime committed in the course of providing Ms. Plame's name to the press. And yet he still sent a journalist to jail. By so doing, he has shifted the presumption of whether to subpoena journalists. If the media want to know whom to blame for the spate in serious investigations of their reporting classified information, they should look in the mirror.

Ms. Toensing, a Washington lawyer, is a former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration.


LA Times Commentary
Read the news, go to jail
Most Americans possess classified information, whether they know it or not.
By David Wise
April 30, 2006

Unencumbered by a 1st Amendment, Britain for almost 100 years has had an Official Secrets Act to prevent leaks to the media and to prosecute offenders, including journalists.

Some Bush administration officials and members of Congress are casting a longing eye at the British law. If only the United States had a similar law, their reasoning goes, the reporters who revealed CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe and the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping of terrorism suspects would be prosecuted instead of receiving Pulitzer Prizes.

The Constitution remains a barrier to those who would restrict the flow of information to the media — and thus to the public. But administration policies are gradually chipping away at its protections. The nation is in danger of having an Official Secrets Act not through passage of a law — although that is still a possibility — but through incremental steps.

The evidence is mounting:

• Judith Miller, as a reporter for the New York Times, spent 85 days in jail after refusing to name a confidential source in the investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald into the leak of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Miller and half a dozen other reporters have been questioned by the prosecutor.

• Two former staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, are on trial in federal court on charges of conspiring to violate espionage statutes by obtaining defense information from a Pentagon official. Both lobbyists are civilians, and the government does not claim they received any documents, classified or otherwise.

• The National Archives and Records Administration has been embarrassed by the revelation that at least 55,000 documents formerly available to researchers have been withdrawn and reclassified under secret agreements with the military and the CIA. The deals were so secretive that the documents simply disappeared from the shelves. Historian Matthew Aid, who discovered the reclassification, pointed out that because he possesses some of the documents, he might be in violation of the Espionage Act. Allen Weinstein, who heads the National Archives, has halted the documents' reclassification.

• The FBI is seeking access to the papers of the late muckraking columnist Jack Anderson in order to seize any classified documents in his files. Anderson broke many stories the government tried to keep secret. His family, citing the 1st Amendment, has refused the agency's request. It is unclear how far the FBI plans to push the matter, or whether the government will next try to examine the files of other journalists, dead or alive.

• Porter J. Goss, director of the CIA, has testified that "it is my aim and it is my hope" that reporters who receive leaks on intelligence subjects are hauled before a grand jury and forced "to reveal who is leaking this information." The CIA dismissed Mary O. McCarthy, a senior official, for allegedly having unauthorized contacts with the media and disclosing classified information to reporters. The agency let stand the impression that she had leaked the story of the CIA secret prisons for terrorists in Eastern Europe to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her account. McCarthy's attorney says she was not the source of the story and has never leaked classified information.

• Congress is considering legislation that would enable the intelligence agencies to revoke the pensions of employees who make unauthorized disclosures. The measure also would allow the CIA and NSA to arrest suspicious people outside their gates without a warrant.

Although the indictment of the two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is replete with references to "classified information," the espionage laws, with one narrow exception, refer only to "information relating to the national defense." The spy laws were passed in 1917 during World War I. A 1951 presidential executive order created the current system of classifying documents.

There is no law specifically prohibiting leaks, so the government has used the espionage laws to try to combat the practice. President Clinton vetoed anti-leak legislation passed in 2000 that would have made it a crime for a government official to disclose classified information.

To criminalize leaks of government information simply because the information is marked "classified" is absurd on its face. In 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, the government classified 15,294,087 documents. It is hardly likely that the government has that many real secrets to withhold from its citizens.

Unnecessarily classifying documents is a fact of life in Washington. Many bureaucrats know that unless they stamp a document "secret" or "top secret," their superiors may not even bother to read it. One government agency classified the fact that water does not flow uphill. During World War II, the Army labeled the bow and arrow as a secret, calling it a "silent flashless weapon."

The government's theory in the lobbyists' prosecution could, if it stands, change the nature of how news is gathered in Washington and how lobbyists and academics interact with the government.

"What makes the AIPAC case so alarming," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy of the Federation of American Scientists, "is the defendants are not being charged with being agents of a foreign power but with receiving classified information without authorization. Most Americans who read the newspaper are also in possession of classified information, whether they know it or not. The scope of the charges is incredibly broad."

Officials in Washington talk to reporters every day about matters that may, in some government file cabinet, in some agency, somewhere, be stamped with a secrecy classification. How would a journalist be expected to know that he or she was a "recipient" of classified information, and in theory subject to prosecution under a law that was meant to catch spies?

The original British Official Secrets Act, passed in 1911, allowed the crown to prosecute anyone, even a journalist, who published a railroad timetable. The act was made less draconian in 1989, but it still carries tough provisions and can apply to journalists.

Fleet Street also is guided by Defense Advisory Notices that warn the media against publishing data about military operations, nuclear or other weapons, codes, "sensitive installations" or the intelligence services.

At least until recently, the U.S. government applied the espionage laws to officials who leaked, not to the recipients. "Otherwise," Aftergood said, "Bob Woodward would not be a wealthy, bestselling author. He would be serving a life sentence."

DAVID WISE writes frequently about intelligence and secrecy. He is the author of "Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America."


Washington Post
Little Is Clear in Laws on Leaks
Statutes Regarding Classified Data Called Hard to Prosecute
By Dan Eggen
Friday, April 28, 2006; A07

The firing of a veteran CIA officer for unauthorized contacts with the press has focused attention on the patchwork of federal laws that govern disclosures of classified information, which are written broadly but are difficult to enforce and have historically been used sparingly in cases involving journalists.

Numerous experts on national security law said Mary O. McCarthy, whom the CIA fired 10 days before her retirement for allegedly having undisclosed contacts with reporters, could conceivably be prosecuted under a number of statutes, including those governing espionage, disclosures of classified information and even theft of government property.

Yet those experts warned that any such prosecution is fraught with obstacles, including the difficulty in showing that disclosures were made with knowledge that they would harm national security or were intended to benefit a foreign power.

In addition, McCarthy's attorney, Ty Cobb, said on Monday that she did not leak classified information to reporters, disputing a key accusation in a CIA statement issued last week. Cobb also said McCarthy did not disclose the existence of secret CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe to a Washington Post reporter, which has been a primary focus of an internal leak investigation ordered by CIA Director Porter J. Goss.

"From the criminal side, there are a lot of difficulties with respect to this case," said Mark S. Zaid, a Washington lawyer who has represented many former employees in disputes with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. "I wouldn't be surprised if they decline prosecution, because it might create more problems than it's worth."

The case comes amid renewed debate in Congress over whether to increase penalties for leaking or to consider rewriting espionage and classified information laws. This week, the House approved a bill requiring the director of national intelligence to study yanking pensions for those caught revealing secrets.

Unlike in similar cases, such as the New York Times's disclosure of a warrantless eavesdropping program run by the National Security Agency, the CIA has not formally asked the Justice Department or the FBI to open a criminal probe into The Post's article on prisons, law enforcement officials said this week. Reporters at The Post and the Times were awarded Pulitzer Prizes this month for those articles.

In the latter half of the 20th century, including the Cold War years, the government prosecuted only one non-espionage leak case in federal courts. But the Justice Department has more recently signaled its willingness to test the boundaries of espionage law in a case involving two pro-Israel lobbyists, and the CIA and other intelligence agencies have launched aggressive internal probes to detect and punish leakers.

No statute in the U.S. criminal code covers all unauthorized disclosures of classified information, and Congress has debated whether an overarching law should be enacted. President Bill Clinton vetoed one such attempt shortly before he left office, and the Justice Department opposed a similar proposal in 2002, saying most, if not all, incidents can be dealt with under existing laws and administrative procedures.

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act outlaws deliberate identification of covert agents; other laws focus on electronic communications, codes, atomic secrets and other sensitive data.

The pivotal statute is the Espionage Act of 1917, which was aimed at traditional foreign spies when written but, according to the government, is broad enough to encompass a much wider array of situations.

The law outlaws unauthorized disclosure or receipt of a wide range of information "relating to the national defense" and is not explicitly limited to classified data. Many legal experts and defense lawyers argue that the law is so expansive it may be unconstitutional and, said Syracuse University law professor William C. Banks, "shot full of holes."

"It's been very difficult for the government to use the Espionage Act to obtain a conviction for simply leaking information," said Banks, who also runs the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse. "It was written to cover conventional espionage and spying, not conventional leaking within the government."

But the government was successful in using the statute in the case of Samuel L. Morison, a former Navy intelligence analyst convicted of espionage and theft during the Reagan administration for leaking secret U.S. spy satellite photographs to Jane's Defense Weekly. A judge in the case ruled against defense assertions that the Espionage Act was unconstitutionally vague.

Currently, two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are accused of receiving classified information during conversations with government officials, including former Pentagon employee Lawrence A. Franklin, who has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. In bringing the case, the government for the first time indicted two nongovernmental employees under the espionage law.

Prosecutors have also alarmed journalism groups and free-speech advocates by asserting that reporters could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for receiving and publishing classified information. The laws governing classified material do not make it illegal to publish such material except in specific circumstances; for example, one statute outlaws reproducing or publishing photographs or drawings of designated military installations without government permission.

But in a brief filed in the AIPAC case, Justice Department lawyers argued there "plainly is no exemption in the statutes for the press," saying the Espionage Act and some Supreme Court opinions indicate that journalists can be prosecuted for revealing classified information.

At the same time, the lawyers said that prosecuting a reporter "would raise legitimate and serious issues and would not be undertaken lightly," adding that "the fact that there has never been such a prosecution speaks for itself."

Such disputes have renewed calls to revise the laws on classified information and espionage.

"The system is ossified, complicated and a relic of the Cold War period," said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former CIA and NSA general counsel who is dean of the University of the Pacific's law school and was recently named to a government board formed to oversee classification issues. "I think it needs to be looked at seriously again."

Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


Financial Times
CIA warns ex-agents over talking to media
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington
Published: April 26 2006 22:05 | Last updated: April 26 2006 23:51

The Central Intelligence Agency has warned former employees not to have unapproved contacts with reporters, as part of a mounting campaign by the administration to crack down on officials who leak information on national security issues.
A former official said the CIA recently warned several retired employees who have consulting contracts with the agency that they could lose their pensions by talking to reporters without permission. He added that while the threats might be legally “hollow,” they were having a chilling effect on former employees.
The CIA called the allegations “rubbish”. Jennifer Millerwise Dyke, spokeswoman for CIA director Porter Goss, said former employees with consulting deals could lose their contracts for violating the CIA secrecy agreement by having unauthorised conversations with reporters. But she stressed that under current law, “termination of a contract does not affect pensions”.
The clampdown represents the latest move in what observers describe as the most aggressive government campaign against leaks in years. The Justice Department is investigating the disclosure to the media of secret overseas CIA prisons and a highly classified National Security Agency domestic spying programme authorised by President George W. Bush. Last week, the CIA fired Mary McCarthy, an intelligence officer, for allegedly leaking classified information and having undisclosed contacts with reporters.
Mr Goss has increased the number of “single issue” polygraphs – lie detector tests aimed at ferreting out leaking employees. A second former official said Mr Goss was trying to “scare everybody” by using polygraphs aggressively.
Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former CIA general counsel, said Mr Goss was “obviously taking a much more forward-leaning stance than any of us have seen for years”. But another former intelligence official said the agency was simply returning to a “more conservative regimen” to remind employees that they work for a secret organisation.
The House intelligence committee has asked John Negroponte, the director for national intelligence who oversees the 16 intelligence agencies, to study whether retirees could lose their pensions for disclosing classified information even when not prosecuted.
The attempt to silence former employees extends beyond those who still have consulting contracts. Larry Johnson, a former CIA official who blogs at www.TPMCafe.com, said he recently received a “threatening” letter reminding him about his confidentiality agreements.
Mr Johnson – who has criticised the White House for not aggressively investigating the outing of Valerie Plame, a former covert operative, said it was the first such letter he had received despite regularly commenting in the media on intelligence matters since his retirement in 1989. He said other former employees also received letters.
He said the CIA was also “very forceful” in intimidating a retired official who maintains ties to the agency after he signed a letter criticising the administration over the Plame leak.
Mr Gimigliano said CIA staff officers and contractors must sign a secrecy agreement which compelled them to seek prepublication permission for anything they wrote involving the CIA, intelligence matters, and classified material.
Mr Gimigliano added: “When a former officer or contractor fails to honour the legally binding agreement ... our Publications Review Board may send the individual a written reminder. That reminder includes the statement that ‘permission to publish will not be denied solely because information may be embarrassing to or critical of the agency’ ... Obviously, such letters contain no threats.”
But Mr Johnson and other critics say the campaign is also intended to crack down on politically embarrassing comments from former officials.
“They are trying to intimidate the press and trying to intimidate employees,” said Mr Johnson. “Anybody who has been critical of the Bush administration is getting letters.”
Another former CIA employee who maintains links to the agency said it did not need to be blatant about threats because contractors and retirees who had relationships with agency officials understood that talking to reporters could have repercussions for future work.
“People at the agency are bright enough to see that is going on, they don’t need to be reminded,” the former official said.
Stanley Sporkin, former CIA general counsel during the Reagan administration and a retired judge, said it was “ridiculous” that the agency was trying to limit contacts with the media.
He said the only restriction should be that they do not reveal classified information. Something has got to be done to address this. These days it is almost like a witch hunt,” said Mr Sporkin.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Plugging Leaks

By Melissa Boyle Mahle

Late Friday afternoon, after the political pundits had signed off their computer for the weekend and the news cycle closed, the CIA announced the firing of a CIA officer for unauthorized contacts with the media and disclosure of classified information. According to press reports the officer in question is Mary O’Neil McCarthy.

I do not personally know Ms. McCarthy, but she was a senior analyst who had worked on the National Security Council (NSC) for five years during the Clinton years. According to the press, her last position with the CIA was in the Office of the Inspector General.

Let me offer several observations. First of all, this is unprecedented. CIA officers don’t leak because 1) it is against the ethos; 2) it means revocation of your security clearance (and job); and it likely results in complete ostracization by your former colleagues. There is another issue that may or may not loom large for Ms. McCarthy, it is illegal.

When I was on the inside, I completely avoided contact with the press. I also lived in a bubble that helped insolate me from associating with the Washington chattering class. But I was a clandestine officer. Ms. McCarthy was an overt analyst who lived in Washington and, more importantly, worked in policy circles given her stint at the NSC. She was likely a political appointee, given her long stint at the NSC.

So Ms. McCarthy had access to and was known by the chattering class. There are hundreds of intelligence community analysts that meet this description. They don’t leak. So what is the operative issue, this assuming that the allegations against Ms. McCarthy are true?

Ms. McCarthy’s last position was with the Office of the Inspector General (IG). This is the investigative and oversight arm of the CIA. When there are allegations of organizational wrongdoing, the IG—either at its own behest, at the request of the Director of Central Intelligence or from Congress—the IG does an investigation. The only way Ms. McCarthy would have had access to compartmentalized intelligence on US counterterrorism operations was if she was part of an investigating team.

The IG writes reports for D/CIA and Congressional oversight committees. Why would Ms. McCarthy feel compelled to act outside of the oversight and investigative process? The only reason I can imagine is that she took exception to a program that neither the CIA nor Congress wanted to shut down or limit: secret prisons and enforced disappearances.

As I have written in this blog, I am against leaks. There is no such thing as a good leak or a bad leak. They are all bad. When there are suddenly a ton of leaks, this is a good indicator that something is rotten in the system.

So, did Ms. McCarthy find herself in a rotting or rotten system? I suspect we will hear much more about this. The grumblings from CIA are loud and clear. My former colleagues are unhappy and many are jumping ship.

But let me add a tidbit on the secret prison front.

At the end of November 2005, I submitted a draft conference paper for the Intelligence and Ethics Conference, scheduled for lat January 2006. I provided more than the 30 days of review to the CIA Publications Review Board to ensure the conference paper contained no classified information. We are now approaching the end of April and my conference paper has yet to be cleared.

The title of my paper is, “Renditions: The Ethics and National Security Debate”. The CIA initially redacted (cut out as classified) the entire portion of the paper dealing with secret prisons. My research was conducted on the Internet drawing from open source information. My classified work never included secret prisons and in the draft conference paper I never said that there were any, but just addressed the ethical implications of the allegations.

Why is the CIA sitting on this? Because they don’t want any debate on the topic and they don’t want anybody with credibility talking about the implications of the policy, should it exist. Given the new information that Ms. McCarthy was the source of the Dana Priest's Washington Post story, I would say that she would be a rather credible source on the existence of the policy of secret detentions and enforced disappearances. I would also say that this makes my conference paper extremely relevant. This, however, will not impact in the least the clearance process at the CIA. They will continue to sit on it until either I give up or I sue.

Washington Post
CIA Officer Is Fired for Media Leaks
The Post Was Among Outlets That Gained Classified Data
By Dafna Linzer
Saturday, April 22, 2006; A01

The CIA fired a long-serving intelligence officer for sharing classified information with The Washington Post and other news organizations, officials said yesterday, as the agency continued an aggressive internal search for anyone who may have discussed intelligence with the news media.

CIA officials said the career intelligence officer failed more than one polygraph test and acknowledged unauthorized contacts with reporters. The "officer knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence, including operational information" with journalists, the agency said in a statement yesterday.

The CIA did not reveal the identity of the employee, who was dismissed Thursday, but NBC News reported last night she is Mary McCarthy. An intelligence source confirmed that the report was accurate.

McCarthy began her career in government as an analyst at the CIA in 1984, public documents show. She served as special assistant to the president and senior director for intelligence programs at the White House during the Clinton administration and the first few months of the Bush administration. She later returned to the CIA. Attempts to reach her last night were unsuccessful.

The CIA's statement did not name the reporters it believes were involved, but several intelligence officials said The Post's Dana Priest was among them. This week, Priest won the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting for articles about the agency, including one that revealed the existence of secret, CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate intelligence committee in February that the agency was determined to get to the bottom of recent leaks, and wanted journalists brought before a federal grand jury to reveal their sources. Regarding disclosures about CIA detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects at secret sites abroad, Goss, the former chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that "the damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission."

The CIA has filed several reports to the Justice Department since last fall regarding the publication of classified information and has launched its own internal inquiries which include administering polygraphs to dozens of employees.

The intelligence agency is sharing its findings with the Justice Department but is continuing to pursue some avenues of investigation on its own.

"It's up to the Justice Department to decide whether they want to pursue investigations separately," an intelligence source said.

The Justice Department is conducting several leak inquiries, including one into reports last December in the New York Times about a secret domestic surveillance program by the National Security Agency. Officials said it is possible the department could file criminal charges in connection with that investigation and others, but it is unclear whether the department is also investigating the disclosures about CIA-run prisons.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse declined to comment yesterday. "We do not confirm investigations on intelligence-related matters," he said, because of the information's sensitivity.

Intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the dismissed officer identified by others as McCarthy has not been charged with any crime and is not believed to be the subject of a Justice Department investigation.

The officer's employment was terminated for violating a secrecy agreement all employees are required to sign when they join the agency. The agreement prohibits them from sharing classified information with unauthorized individuals.

The CIA said the firing was the result of an internal investigation initiated in late January of all "officers who were involved in or exposed to certain intelligence programs."

"Through the course of these investigations a CIA official acknowledged having unauthorized discussion with the media" and was terminated, the CIA statement said.
Priest, who also won the George Polk Award and a prize from the Overseas Press Club this week for her articles, declined to comment yesterday.

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said people who provide citizens the information they need to hold their government accountable should not "come to harm for that."

"The reporting that Dana did was very important accountability reporting about how the CIA and the rest of the U.S. government have been conducting the war on terror," Downie said. "Whether or not the actions of the CIA or other agencies have interfered with anyone's civil liberties is important information for Americans to know and is an important part of our jobs."

In an effort to stem leaks, the Bush administration launched several initiatives earlier this year targeting journalists and national security employees. They include FBI probes, extensive polygraphing inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

The effort has been widely seen among members of the media, and some legal experts, as the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and has worsened the already-tense relationship between mainstream news organizations and the White House.

Dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office. Others have been prohibited, in writing, from discussing even unclassified issues related to the domestic surveillance program. Some GOP lawmakers are also considering tougher penalties for leaking.

Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate intelligence panel, welcomed the CIA's actions. In a statement, he said leaks had "hindered our efforts in the war against al Qaeda," although he did not say how.

"I am pleased that the Central Intelligence Agency has identified the source of certain unauthorized disclosures, and I hope that the agency, and the [intelligence] community as a whole, will continue to vigorously investigate other outstanding leak cases," Roberts said.

Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu and research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.


April 23, 2006
The New York Times
Colleagues Say C.I.A. Analyst Played by Rules
By DAVID S. CLOUD
WASHINGTON, April 22 — Mary O. McCarthy, the intelligence officer dismissed on Friday after being accused of leaking information to reporters about the Central Intelligence Agency's overseas prisons, once was responsible for guarding some of the nation's most sensitive secrets.

As a senior National Security Council aide for intelligence from 1996 to 2001, Ms. McCarthy was known as a low-key professional who paid special attention to preventing White House leaks of classified information and covert operations, several current and former government officials said.

When she disagreed with decisions on intelligence operations, they say, she registered her complaints through internal government channels.

But on Thursday she was stripped of her security clearance and escorted out of C.I.A. headquarters, government officials said, after failing a polygraph examination and confessing that she had disclosed classified information to reporters, including material for The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning articles about secret C.I.A. facilities in Eastern Europe used to interrogate captured Al Qaeda members and other terror suspects.

Ms. McCarthy, who has not been charged with any crime, did not respond to telephone calls and an e-mail message. But former colleagues who worked with her at the C.I.A. and the White House say they had trouble fathoming her as a leaker. Some said they flatly refused to believe the accusations.

"We're talking about a person with great integrity who played by the book and, as far as I know, never deviated from the rules," said Steven Simon, a National Security Council aide in the Clinton administration who worked closely with Ms. McCarthy.

Others said it was possible that Ms. McCarthy, who began attending law school at night several years ago and had announced her intention to retire from the C.I.A., had grown disenchanted with the methods that the Bush administration used for handling Al Qaeda prisoners since the September 2001 terror attacks and felt she had no alternative except to go to the press.

"I have no idea what her motive was, but there is a lot of dissension within the agency and it seems to be a rather unhappy place," said Richard J. Kerr, a former C.I.A. deputy director. Mr. Kerr called Ms. McCarthy "quite a good, substantive person on the issues I dealt with her on."

She also gradually came to have one foot in the secret world of intelligence and another in the public world of policy.

She went from lower-level analyst working in obscurity at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va,. to someone at home "downtown," as Washington is called by agency veterans, where policy is more openly fought over and leaks are far more common.
Though she was a C.I.A. employee for more than 20 years, associates said, her early professional experience was not in the world of spying and covert operations.

After a previous career that one former colleague said included time as a flight attendant, she earned a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota. She worked for a Swiss company "conducting risk assessments for international businesses and banks," Ms. McCarthy wrote in a brief biography she provided to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also called the 9/11 Commission. She testified before the commission in 2003. Her biography notes that she once wrote "a book on the social history of Ghana."

Even after joining the C.I.A. in 1984, Ms. McCarthy, who was hired as intelligence analyst for Africa, was far from a covert operative. In the late 1980's, she was promoted to management, taking over as chief of the Central America and Caribbean section, though she had no previous experience in the region, said a former officer who worked with her.

By 1991, she was working as deputy to one of the agency's most senior analysts, Charles E. Allen, whose job as "National Intelligence Officer for Warning" was to anticipate major national security threats. Ms. McCarthy took over the job from Mr. Allen in 1994 and moved to the Clinton White House two years later.

Rand Beers, who at the time was Mr. Clinton's senior intelligence aide on the National Security Council, said he hired Ms. McCarthy to be his deputy. "Anybody who works for Charlie Allen and then replaces him has got to be good," said Mr. Beers, who went on to serve as an adviser to the 2004 presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate. She took over from Mr. Beers as the senior director for intelligence programs in 1998.

Though she was not among the C.I.A. officials who briefed Mr. Clinton every morning on the latest intelligence, she "worked on some of the most sensitive programs," a former White House aide said, and was responsible for notifying Congress when covert action was being undertaken.

The aide and some others who spoke about Ms. McCarthy were granted anonymity because they did not want to be identified as discussing her official duties because she be under criminal investigation.

When the Bush administration took office in 2001, Ms. McCarthy's career seemed to stall. A former Bush administration official who worked with her said that, although she was a career C.I.A. employee, as a holdover from the Clinton administration she was regarded with suspicion and was gradually eased out of her job as senior director for intelligence programs. She left several months into Mr. Bush's first term.

But she did not return immediately to a new assignment at C.I.A. headquarters. She took an extended sabbatical at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research organization. In late 2003, she testified publicly before the 9/11 Commission about ways to reorganize the intelligence agencies to prevent another major terror attack.

She served on the Markle Foundation's "Task Force on National Security in the Information Age," a group of academics as well as current and former government officials working on recommendations for sharing classified information more widely within the government, according to a report issued by the group. The report identifies Ms. McCarthy as a "nongovernment" expert.

H. Andrew Schwartz, a spokesman for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that Ms. McCarthy's relationship with the organization lasted from 2001 to 2003. Several associates of Ms. McCarthy say she returned to the C.I.A. in 2004, taking a job in the inspector general's office. That year, public records show, she contributed $2,000 to Mr. Kerry's presidential campaign.

Married with one child, she also began attending law school at night, two former co-workers said, and talked about switching to a career in public interest law.

After an article last November in The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A. was sending terror suspects to clandestine detention centers in several countries, including some in Eastern Europe, Porter J. Goss, the agency's director, ordered polygraphs for intelligence officers who knew about certain "compartmented" programs, including the secret detention centers for terror suspects.

Polygraphs are given routinely to agency employees at least every five years, but special ones can be ordered when a security breach is suspected.

Government officials said that after Ms. McCarthy's polygraph examination showed the possibility of deception, the examiner confronted her and she disclosed having conversations with reporters.

But some former C.I.A. employees who know Ms. McCarthy remain unconvinced, arguing that the pressure from Mr. Goss and others in the Bush administration to plug leaks may have led the agency to focus on an employee on the verge of retirement, whose work at the White House during the Clinton administration had long raised suspicions within the current administration.

"It looks to me like Mary is being used as a sacrificial lamb," said Larry Johnson, a former C.I.A. officer who worked for Ms. McCarthy in the agency's Latin America section.

April 22, 2006
The New York Times
C.I.A. Fires Senior Officer Over Leaks
By DAVID JOHNSTON and SCOTT SHANE
WASHINGTON, April 21 — The Central Intelligence Agency has dismissed a senior career officer for disclosing classified information to reporters, including material for Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in The Washington Post about the agency's secret overseas prisons for terror suspects, intelligence officials said Friday.

The C.I.A. would not identify the officer, but several government officials said it was Mary O. McCarthy, a veteran intelligence analyst who until 2001 was senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, where she served under President Bill Clinton and into the Bush administration.

At the time of her dismissal, Ms. McCarthy was working in the agency's inspector general's office, after a stint at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an organization in Washington that examines global security issues.

The dismissal of Ms. McCarthy provided fresh evidence of the Bush administration's determined efforts to stanch leaks of classified information. The Justice Department has separately opened preliminary investigations into the disclosure of information to The Post, for its articles about secret prisons, as well as to The New York Times, for articles last fall that disclosed the existence of a program of domestic eavesdropping without warrants supervised by the National Security Agency. Those articles were also recognized this week with a Pulitzer Prize.

Several former veteran C.I.A. officials said the dismissal of an agency employee over a leak was rare and perhaps unprecedented. One official recalled the firing of a small number of agency contractors, including retirees, for leaking several years ago.

The dismissal was announced Thursday at the C.I.A. in an e-mail message sent by Porter J. Goss, the agency's director, who has made the effort to stop unauthorized disclosure of secrets a priority. News of the dismissal was first reported Friday by MSNBC.

Ms. McCarthy's departure followed an internal investigation by the C.I.A.'s Security Center, as part of an intensified effort that began in January to scrutinize employees who had access to particularly classified information. She was given a polygraph examination, confronted about answers given to the polygraph examiner and confessed, the government officials said. On Thursday, she was stripped of her security clearance and escorted out of C.I.A. headquarters. Ms. McCarthy did not reply Friday evening to messages left by e-mail and telephone.

"A C.I.A. officer has been fired for unauthorized contact with the media and for the unauthorized disclosure of classified information," said a C.I.A. spokesman, Paul Gimigliano. "This is a violation of the secrecy agreement that is the condition of employment with C.I.A. The officer has acknowledged the contact and the disclosures."
Mr. Gimigliano said the Privacy Act prohibited him from identifying the employee.

Intelligence officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said that the dismissal resulted from "a pattern of conduct" and not from a single leak, but that the case involved in part information about secret C.I.A. detention centers that was given to The Washington Post.

Ms. McCarthy's departure was another unsettling jolt for the C.I.A., battered in recent years over faulty prewar intelligence in Iraq, waves of senior echelon departures after the appointment of Mr. Goss as director and the diminished standing of the agency under the reorganization of the country's intelligence agencies.

The C.I.A.'s inquiry focused in part on identifying Ms. McCarthy's role in supplying information for a Nov. 2, 2005, article in The Post by Dana Priest, a national security reporter. The article reported that the intelligence agency was sending terror suspects to clandestine detention centers in several countries, including sites in Eastern Europe.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, said on its Web site that he could not comment on the firing because he did not know the details. "As a general principle," he said, "obviously I am opposed to criminalizing the dissemination of government information to the press."

Eric C. Grant, a spokesman for the newspaper, would not address whether any C.I.A. employee was a source for the secret prison articles, but said, "No Post reporter has been subpoenaed or talked to investigators in connection with this matter."

The disclosures about the prisons provoked an outcry among European allies and set off protests among Democrats in Congress. The leak prompted the C.I.A. to send a criminal referral to the Justice Department. Lawyers at the Justice Department were notified of Ms. McCarthy's dismissal, but no new referral was issued, law enforcement officials said. They said that they would review the case, but that her termination could mean she would be spared criminal prosecution.

In January, current and former government officials said, Mr. Goss ordered polygraphs for intelligence officers who knew about certain "compartmented" programs, including the secret detention centers for terrorist suspects. Polygraphs are routinely given to agency employees at least every five years, but special polygraphs can be ordered when a security breach is suspected.

The results of such exams are regarded as important indicators of deception among some intelligence officials. But they are not admissible as evidence in court — and the C.I.A.'s reliance on the polygraph in Ms. McCarthy's case could make it more difficult for the government to prosecute her.

"This was a very aggressive internal investigation," said one former C.I.A. officer with more than 20 years' experience. "Goss was determined to find the source of the secret-jails story."

With the encouragement of the White House and some Republicans in Congress, Mr. Goss has repeatedly spoken out against leaks, saying foreign intelligence officials had asked him whether his agency was incapable of keeping secrets.

In February, Mr. Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee that "the damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission." He said it was his hope "that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information."

"I believe the safety of this nation and the people of this country deserves nothing less," he said.

Ms. McCarthy has been a well-known figure in intelligence circles. She began her career at the agency as an analyst and then was a manager in the intelligence directorate, working at the African and Latin America desks, according to a biography by the strategic studies center. With an advanced degree from the University of Minnesota, she has taught, written a book on the Gold Coast and was director of the social science data archive at Yale University.

Public records show that Ms. McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee.

Republican lawmakers praised the C.I.A. effort. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "I am pleased that the Central Intelligence Agency has identified the source of certain unauthorized disclosures, and I hope that the agency, and the community as a whole, will continue to vigorously investigate other outstanding leak cases."

Several former intelligence officials — who were granted anonymity after requesting it for what they said were obvious reasons under the circumstances — were divided over the likely effect of the dismissal on morale. One veteran said the firing would not be well-received coming so soon after the disclosure of grand jury testimony by Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff that President Bush in 2003 approved the leak of portions of a secret national intelligence estimate on Iraqi weapons.

"It's a terrible situation when the president approves the leak of a highly classified N.I.E., and people at the agency see management as so disastrous that they feel compelled to talk to the press," said one former C.I.A. officer with extensive overseas experience.

But another official, whose experience was at headquarters, said most employees would approve Mr. Goss's action. "I think for the vast majority of people this will be good for morale," the official said. "People didn't like some of their colleagues deciding for themselves what secrets should be in The Washington Post or The New York Times."

Paul R. Pillar, who was the agency's senior analyst for the Middle East until he retired late last year, said: "Classified information is classified information. It's not to be leaked. It's not to be divulged." He has recently criticized the Bush administration's handling of prewar intelligence about Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons programs.

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting for this article.


White House
17 June 1998
BERGER APPOINTS MCCARTHY SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR INTELLIGENCE
(And senior director on NSC Staff for intelligence programs) (370)

Washington -- National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger announced June 16 the appointment of Mary O'Neil McCarthy as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs.

She succeeds Rand Beers in that post, an announcement by the office of the White House Press Secretary said.

Mary McCarthy had been Director of Intelligence Programs on the National Security Council Staff since July 1996. Previously, said the White House, Mrs. McCarthy served as the National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1994-1996 and as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1991-1994. She began government service in 1984 as an analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency.

McCarthy has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Michigan State University and an M.A and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Following is the White House text:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 16, 1998

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger announced today the appointment of Mary O'Neil McCarthy as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs. Mrs. McCarthy succeeds Rand Beers.

Mary McCarthy had been Director of Intelligence Programs on the National Security Council Staff since July 1996. Previously, Mrs. McCarthy served as the National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1994-1996 and as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1991-1994. She began government service in 1984 as an analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Prior to her government service, Mrs. McCarthy held positions in both the private sector and academia. She was a Director, then Vice President of BERI, SA, a firm conducting financial and political risk assessments, from 1979-1984. Previously, she had taught at the University of Minnesota and was Director of the Social Science Data
Archive at Yale University.

Mrs. McCarthy has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Michigan State University and an M.A and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband Michael McCarthy have a son, Michael.