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April 21, 2006
Plugging The Leak

The CIA has terminated an intelligence officer after discovering his communications with the media that resulted in leaking classified information. The agency has not identified the officer or the project from which information was leaked but characterized the disclosures as "damaging":

A CIA officer has been relieved of his duty after being caught leaking classified information to the media.

Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officer's identity or assignments. It was not immediately clear if the person would face prosecution. The firing is a highly unusual move, although there has been an ongoing investigation into leaks in the CIA.

"The officer has acknowledged unauthorized discussions with the media and the unauthorized sharing of classified information," said CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano. "That is a violation of the secrecy agreement that everyone signs as a condition of employment with the CIA." ...

The CIA officer was not in the public affairs office, nor was he someone authorized to talk to the media. The investigation was launched in January by the CIA's security center. It was directed to look at employees who had been exposed to certain intelligence programs. In the course of the investigation, the fired officer admitted discussing classified information including information about classified operations.

This becomes the first major instance of outing a leaker within the intelligence community since Porter Goss took over at Langley with a mandate to clean house. The CIA has had several leaks during the war on terror, including a particularly damaging one that revealed CIA detention centers in Europe for interrogating captured terrorists. Not only did this cause political damage among our European allies regarding their support of our war efforts, it also apparently caused the program's termination, at least delaying the acquisition of intel from detainees that could have impacted American and Western security. Worst of all, other intel agencies had to rethink their cooperation with American agencies in light of the fact that people within them couldn't keep their mouths shut.

The Department of Justice needs to prosecute these leakers to the full extent of the law. We already have the precedent of a two-year special prosecutor who spent millions of dollars investigating a leak of minimal import that resulted from what looks like a deliberate misinformation campaign quarterbacked by the CIA's non-proliferation desk. Those within the agency that attempt to leak classified information to the press to serve their own political ends deserve a long vacation at Club Fed as a lesson to others who might consider trying their own rogue operations later.

UPDATE: MS-NBC says that the fired agent was the source for Dana Priest's story on the detention centers:

The leak pertained to stories on the CIA’s rumored secret prisons in Eastern Europe, sources told NBC. The information was allegedly provided to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who wrote about CIA prisons in November and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for her reporting.

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.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 21, 2006 4:30 PM

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» CIA officer fired over “secret CIA prisons in Europe” leak from Sister Toldjah
Excellent. Via NBC: WASHINGTON - In a rare occurrence, the CIA fired an officer who acknowledged giving classified information to a reporter, NBC News learned Friday. The officer flunked a polygraph exam before being fired on Thursday and is now unde... [Read More]

Tracked on April 22, 2006 1:49 AM

» McCarthyism from GroupIntel
Another kind of CIA-related “outing” took place late yesterday: Mary McCarthy was identified as at least one of Dana Priest’s sources in the CIA “secret prisons” article. That would be the story that earned Ms. Priest a Pulitzer Prize. I wrot... [Read More]

Tracked on April 22, 2006 4:04 PM


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