Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thanks, Andrea

Probably without realizing it, NBC News talking head Andrea Mitchell has shed additional light on the Mary McCarthy leak scandal. Appearing last night on "Hardball," Ms. Mitchell, erstwhile "trophy wife" of retired Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan (pun intended) lamented that Ms. McCarthy had been fired "only one week" before her scheduled retirement date of 30 April.

According to Mitchell, Ms. McCarthy announced her retirement back on February 7th of this year, revealing her plans to become a family practice attorney, specializing in adoptions (there's got to be a joke in there somewhere). As I understand it, departing CIA employees cease their normal duties soon after the announcement, and enter the agency's career transition program. That would suggest that Ms. McCarthy departed the IG's office in late January or early February. Factoring in the transition program and "terminal leave" (using up remaining vacation time or sick days), that would have carried McCarthy until the end of April.

Let's see...the series on secret CIA prisons first appeared in the Washington Post last November. Assuming that reporter Dana Priest spent some time assembling that package, that means that her research and reporting went back a few months in 2005--the same period when McCarthy was still assigned to the IG office. Could McCarthy have been one of Priest's sources? As we noted yesterday, McCarthy has denied that charge, and the CIA indicates that she was fired for "unauthorized" contact with reporters, and not specifically the prison leak.

That means McCarthy potentially had access to the information. But again, a cautionary note: McCarthy had been attending law school at night for several years, and passed the bar last November. Given the rigors of that exam, I'm guessing that McCarthy took a lot of vacation time last summer and fall, preparing for the bar. That would make her a less likely source for Dana Priest. And, as we observed yesterday, it would make little sense to assign such a sensitive issue to a departing staffer. If McCarthy had any role in the leak, it was probably to confirm the basic facts of the story--the details probably came from other staffers, who have yet to be identified.

There are probably some nervous folks around Langley these days. Mary McCarthy may be less the "tip of the iceberg" than another, smaller berg floating in the CIA ocean. And it looks like the "icebreaker" Porter Goss is taking dead aim at the larger berg that provided the bulk of Dana Priest's story. Full steam ahead.


Anonymous said...

One speculation that I've seen on blogs has been that McCarthy may have been disgruntled at perhaps being "demoted" from NIO to the IG position. But if she has been going to law school at night for the past several years then she may have accepted a less prestigious and less demanding position to have more time for law school.

Unknown said...

Very true...the question is: was her decision to pursue a new career in law something she arrived at independently, or a choice she was forced to make, due to a demotion under the Bush Administration. My money's on the latter.

blert said...

She was shifting her career INTO politics/ lobbying.

A law degree would be most helpful on the CV.

Focussing on adoptions would entail zero dirt on her shoes; long term entanglements would be few.

She'd be a mandarin-attorney of adoption paperwork: what a breeze.