I read two things this morning that make me want to repeat a question I asked last week. Here's the question I asked:
I wonder, Porter Goss. Two weeks ago, when you fired Mary McCarthy just weeks shy of her retirement, did you have any idea you'd be resigning yourself so quickly?
I'm asking it again partly because I read this Laura Rozen post from today...
In some ways, Wilkes has a lot in common with Jack Abramoff,
The most controversial covert policies of that era and this one are connected to the excesses and the corruption we're seeing investigated and exposed now. What's the common theme, between the alleged pay offs and prostitutes and bribery, and running the policies that can't easily withstand public exposure and Congressional scrutiny? It's not an obvious one. Why is it in some ways the more prosaic, superficial issue -- the corruption -- that gets surfaced and investigated -- rather than the policies connected to it?
... and re-read a post she linked to from the end of April:
And from what I've heard of the very large contract Wilkes was in discussions to potentially receive from the CIA, to set up an off the books plane network for the Agency, and Wilkes and Foggo's earlier activities, for instance, supporting covert US efforts to arm and fund the contras, that fits right into the paradigm, the off-the-books secret policy that the tough guys run steering under the radar of a democratic system, with an informal network of friends, profiteers, true believers and wanna-bes on the inside and the outside. Was it just about the money? Or was it about the semi deniable policy within the policy, run by those who had proved themselves over time, from Central America and Afghanistan to cigar-smoke filled Watergate suites, to be reliable members of the club that doesn't overly concern itself with the law? More than that: it's about this club's conviction that the law is an impediment to the national security cause, that the way to run things is through these informal networks.
Laura's suggesting, it seems, that when prosecutors talk about the Cunningham/Wilkes mess being a lot bigger than hookers and French commodes, they're talking about the way this bribery connects to funding and operating illicit foreign policy operations, operations that overstep law and oversight requirements.
Well, after reading those two, I read the superb story on Mary McCarthy in today's WaPo:
A senior CIA official, meeting with Senate staff in a secure room of the Capitol last June, promised repeatedly that the agency did not violate or seek to violate an international treaty that bars cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees, during interrogations it conducted in the Middle East and elsewhere.
But another CIA officer -- the agency's deputy inspector general, who for the previous year had been probing allegations of criminal mistreatment by the CIA and its contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan -- was startled to hear what she considered an outright falsehood, according to people familiar with her account. It came during the discussion of legislation that would constrain the CIA's interrogations.
That CIA officer was Mary O. McCarthy, 61, who was fired on April 20 for allegedly sharing classified information with journalists, including Washington Post journalist Dana Priest. A CIA employee of two decades, McCarthy became convinced that "CIA people had lied" in that briefing, as one of her friends said later, not only because the agency had conducted abusive interrogations but also because its policies authorized treatment that she considered cruel, inhumane or degrading.
Whether McCarthy's conviction that the CIA was hiding unpleasant truths provoked her to leak sensitive information is known only to her and the journalists she is alleged to have spoken with last year. But the picture of her that emerges from interviews with more than a dozen former colleagues is of an independent-minded analyst who became convinced that on multiple occasions the agency had not given accurate or complete information to its congressional overseers.
In addition to CIA misrepresentations at the session last summer, McCarthy told the friends, a senior agency official failed to provide a full account of the CIA's detainee-treatment policy at a closed hearing of the House intelligence committee in February 2005, under questioning by Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the senior Democrat.
McCarthy also told others she was offended that the CIA's general counsel had worked to secure a secret Justice Department opinion in 2004 authorizing the agency's creation of "ghost detainees" -- prisoners removed from Iraq for secret interrogations without notice to the International Committee of the Red Cross -- because the Geneva Conventions prohibit such practices.
McCarthy "was seeing things in some of the investigations that troubled her," said one of her friends, and she worried that neither Helgerson nor the agency's congressional overseers would fully examine what happened or why. "She had the impression that this stuff has been pretty well buried," another friend said. In McCarthy's view and that of many colleagues, two friends say, torture was not only wrong but also misguided, because it rarely produced useful results. [my emphasis]
Go read the entire article--it's an enlightening profile of McCarthy's career, including details of her earlier objections to some of the previous mistakes in the WOT.
The article, finally, only suggests a conclusion, it doesn't connect the dots. It suggests that McCarthy was fired because she was trying to make it clear that the CIA was lying about its activities related to ghost detainees, extraordinary renditions, and torture. But those dots are clear: McCarthy may have been blowing a whistle on ongoing illegal activities related to the WOT.
But let's put the dots about McCarthy together with Laura's dots.
- McCarthy may have been fired because she was blowing the whistle on, among other things, extraordinary renditions
- The underlying scandal of the Cunningham/Wilkes case may be the way the bribes funded covert activities, including (but not limited to) running plane companies used for extraordinary rendition
McCarthy gets fired, new dirt on Wilkes comes out, and we begin to learn that the real story is planes for extraordinary rendition. Yeah, I'd say those may be dots.
One more detail. I'm still mystified as to the Kremlinology on these events. Did the White House remove Goss so they could more easily cover up this covert stuff? Who's backing Hayden and why? Well, the McCarthy article provides one clue:
Officials at the CIA and the White House declined to say whether McCarthy's firing, which came 10 days before her planned retirement, was discussed between them in advance. But a CIA official said that when Goss himself was asked to resign two weeks later, Bush thanked Goss indirectly for the action when he said Goss had "instilled a sense of professionalism" at the agency.
Goss got shown the door. But he was escorted to the door, not kicked out of it. And as Cheney's (Negroponte's?) thugs were escorting Goss to the door, they were thanking him for showing McCarthy the door, two weeks earlier.
Lots of dots here, but I'm not sure what to make of them.