By: The Associated Press and E&P Staff
The CIA has fired an employee for leaking classified information to the news media, an agency official said Friday.
Agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano said an officer had been fired for having unauthorized contacts with the media and disclosing classified information to reporters, including details about intelligence operations.
“The officer has acknowledged unauthorized discussions with the media and the unauthorized sharing of classified information,” Gimigliano said. “That is a violation of the secrecy agreement that everyone signs as a condition of employment with the CIA.”
It was not immediately clear if the person would face prosecution.
The New York Times reported late Friday: “The C.I.A. would not identify the leaker, 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 Presidents Clinton and Bush.
“At the time of her dismissal, Ms. McCarthy was working in the agency’s inspector general’s office, after a four-year stint at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based organization that examines global security issues. “
NBC reported that the officer flunked a polygraph exam before being fired on Wednesday. It is alleged that she leaked information used in the story on the CIA’s “black sites” in Europe by the Washington Post’s Dana Priest that won a Pulitzer Prize this week. Sources said the CIA believes the officer had more than a dozen unauthorized contacts with Priest. Information about subjects other than the prisons may have been leaked as well.
“CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise said she was unsure whether there had ever been a firing before at the agency for leaking to the media. Priest had no comment.
Justice Department officials declined to comment on the firing and whether the matter had been referred to federal prosecutors for possible criminal charges. One law enforcement official said there were dozens of leak investigations under way.
A second law enforcement official said the CIA officer had provided information that contributed to a Washington Post story last year saying there were secret U.S. prisons in Eastern Europe.
Both of those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
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 has pressed for aggressive investigations. In his latest appearance before Congress, Goss condemned the unauthorized disclosure of information.
“The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission,” Goss said in February, adding that a federal grand jury should be impaneled to determine “who is leaking this information.”