Monday, April 24, 2006

Mary McCarthy Update

A couple of new insights into the saga of Mary McCarthy, the CIA employee who reportedly leaked classified intelligence about the U.S. gulag of secret prisons to journalists. I've written about the charges against her here, and addressed the wingnut blogosphere's preposterous and inconsistent backlash here and here.

Today, there's a report that McCarthy might NOT be the one who leaked the info -- even though the CIA (which officially won't talk about it) has leaked a confirmation that its original leak confirming McCarthy's identity is correct. (Yes, that's a ridiculous sentence. Yes, it's true: the CIA is leaking info about its efforts to plug leaks. God bless the Bushies.)

If it WAS McCarthy, a 21-year CIA veteran who writes for a Christian ecumenical organization -- any rightwing bloggers have credentials that sound? -- affirms on TomPaine.com that contrary to some reports the CIA's culture is "not to leak" but speculates that McCarthy must have seen no other recourse inside the agency and made the moral choice: to reveal war crimes. He remembers what happened to CIA employees who try to operate within agency channels, as the rightwing blogosphere says McCarthy should have done:

That’s what my colleague, CIA analyst Sam Adams, did 40 years ago—and came to rue the day. Through painstaking research, Adams discovered that Gen. William Westmoreland’s staff in Saigon had been ordered to keep Communist force figures artificially low—about half the actual strength—in order to project a picture of progress. When the countrywide offensive at Tet in early 1968 gave the lie to Westmoreland’s figures and vindicated Adams, Sam tried manfully to hold the culprits accountable by going to the CIA’s and the Pentagon’s inspectors general. He got the proverbial run-around, and some 30,000 additional U.S. troops and a million more Vietnamese fell before the war was over six years later. Adams was never able to shake his nagging remorse at the thought that he might have helped prevent further carnage, had he gone out of “official channels” and briefed his findings to the then-free mainstream press. He died at 55 when his heart gave out.

The tragedy of Sam Adams is well known, even to those, like Mary McCarthy, who joined the CIA many years after Sam left. From his present perch, I relish the thought that he is pleased that Mary may have learned a valuable lesson from the frustration he encountered by “staying within official grievance channels.”


We demanded, at Nuremburg, that German government officials not hide behind the "I was just following orders" defense. There is a higher moral code than mere law, we insisted then, and when human rights are being abused, it's a crime not to report them no matter what the law says. We were right then. I still stand by my position that Mary McCarthy -- whoever she is, and no matter how many there are of her -- did the right, moral, and American thing.

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1 comment:

lucretia said...

I heartily agree. If a government employee, whether or not an intelligence employee, gains information about operations detrimental to the American people, that employee is doing their duty to reveal it.
The announcer on C-Span Washington Journal this morning when this subject was discussed showed a newspaper reporting a bill somewhat unknown so far they said that would require all government employees to be indicted who did leaks. This is most terrible news. The Bushies/Rove are taking out our civil liberties/free speech like a juggernaut that refuses to be stopped and will crush anyone in its way. When will the people in the U.S. get scared???