More on McCarthy and the Washington Post
This NBC News article, about the firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy for leaking to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, mentions an interesting tidbit or two.
It seems that McCarthy had flunked a polygraph test earlier when queried. This, of course (assuming the polygraph was accurate), should come as no surprise--but it's another illustration of the depth of her commitment to protecting herself rather than her oath of office. She appears to have wanted to have her cake and eat it too, and to continue at her post in the CIA while violating its most basic tenet.
Unlike McCarthy, the CIA is playing by the rules:
Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officer’s identity or assignments.
The article contains the following information about the effects of McCarthy's disclosures:
The Washington Post report caused an international uproar, and government officials have said it did significant damage to relationships between the U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.
CIA Director Porter Goss told the Senate in February that leaks to the media had damaged national security. Subsequently, Goss ordered an internal investigation on leaks involving classified security data.
Ah, but true to form, the Washington Post is unrepentant about its role in presumably undermining national security. Following the traditional lines of the MSM in such matters in these post-Watergate decades, the Post thinks we owe it a debt of gratitude (and a pass) for protecting us from what it appears to regard as the far greater threat of possible government overreach:
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."
McCarthy violated an oath, but the press has taken no such oath. Therefore it uses its judgment about what to disclose and what not to disclose. Traditionally, the press has been immune from any repercussions for its disclosures, even if they violate national security. There are checks and balances on the government, but so far virtually none on the press, except its own discretion.
However, this might change. In the Post article, the Bush administration is presented as an antagonist to the press and its mission, and the one to blame for the current bad relations between the press and the administration. In addition, the press has been warned that it could be liable to prosecution for espionage. (My own guess is that the latter will never come to pass; "could be" is a far cry from "will be," and the burden of proof for espionage is probably not met in cases such as this one) :
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.
Note that verb "targeting." Ah, the poor MSM, once again innocent victims of a marauding executive branch out to get them!