Gulag Politics

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Bush Administration

Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff report for Newsweek that Mary McCarthy “has denied she was the source of a controversial Washington Post story about alleged CIA secret detention operations in Eastern Europe.” Further,

McCarthy’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, told NEWSWEEK this afternoon that contrary to public statements by the CIA late last week, McCarthy never confessed to agency interrogators that she had divulged classified information and “didn’t even have access to the information” in The Washington Post story in question.

Larry Johnson had said as much on his blog a couple of days ago:

In fact, there are some things about the case that puzzle me. For starters, Mary never worked on the Operations side of the house. In other words, she never worked a job where she would have had first hand operational knowledge about secret prisons. She worked the analytical side of the CIA and served with the National Intelligence Council. According to press reports, she subsequently worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 2001 thru 2005. That is a type of academic/policy wonk position and, again, would not put her in a position to know anything first hand about secret prisons.

According to Hosenball and Isikoff, “McCarthy did acknowledge that she had failed to report contacts with Washington Post reporter Dana Priest and at least one other reporter. … McCarthy has known Priest for some time. … the CIA was not necessarily accusing her of being the principal, original, or sole leaker of any particular story.” (Emphasis added.)

It is possible, then, that McCarthy had absolutely nothing to do with the secret prison story. In fact, Hosenball and Isikoff report, other journalists reporting on this story say they got most of their information from unclassified sources.

Glenn Greenwald
: “Priest’s original story itself made clear said that her reporting was based upon ‘current and former U.S. intelligence officials and foreign sources.'”

When she was fired, McCarthy was told her identity would be protected. The next day it was all over the news.

Keeping in mind that everything we say is speculative … Steve M. writes,

I find myself thinking about this recent Molly Ivins column:

    …[Karl] Rove, as all the world knows, has been a longtime Republican political operative in Texas prior to heading to Washington with Bush. During that time, Texas Democrats noticed a pattern that they eventually became somewhat paranoid about: In election years, there always seemed to be an FBI investigation of some sitting Democrat either announced or leaked to the press.

    After the election was over, the allegations often vanished….

Ivins goes on to note that one particular FBI agent seemed to be Rove’s go-to guy back in Texas. Now, though, Rove has the whole federal government to play with — he doesn’t need just one pal.

If the accusations against McCarthy turn out to be one of Karl’s red herrings, this could come back to bite him, big time.

Naturally, righties are still howling for McCarthy’s blood. The rightie blog Hot Air provides a handy-dandy roundup of rightie groupthink regarding McCarthy and why the revelation proves that just about every Democrat on the planet must be guilty of something. This paragraph in particular caught my attention:

And man, did she [McCarthy] ever get caught. WaPo says she failed multiple polygraphs before confessing. AJ Strata cites reports describing a “pattern of behavior”. But what’s really got right-wing bloggers exercised is the discovery that McCarthy and her husband have donated upwards of $10,000 to Democratic political campaigns and organizations since 2004. Curiously enough, certain mainstream media outlets have had trouble nailing down the exact figure despite the fact that Ace and Tom Maguire were able to find it on OpenSecrets.org in about thirty seconds. And that’s not the only convenient omission from their predictably sympathetic coverage. Sweetness & Light looks at two of the press’s go-to guys on this story – former CIA analysts Ray McGovern and Larry Johnson – and reveals a few salient facts about their views on intelligence that somehow have managed to fly under the media’s radar.

I doubt the “certain media outlets” weren’t able to find the amount of money McCarthy and her husband donated to Democrats. Rather, to someone who’s not a blazing-hot partisan the information is not particularly significant, especially before McCarthy has actually been convicted of anything. No rational person would jump to the conclusion that someone in McCarthy’s position would risk arrest and tarnish a many-years-long career over mere party politics. And, of course, the “salient facts” about Johnson and McGovern are that they’ve spoken out against the Bush Administration’s deceitful manipulation of intelligence. In RightieWorld only other righties are allowed to be “go-to guys.”

Speaking of Larry Johnson, he writes in “Between Conscience and Unconscionable“:

And what have we learned this week? If you have contributed any money to Democrats you are a traitor if you criticize the President. Rand Beers, a senior national security advisor who served in the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush administrations was labeled a turncoat. Joe and Valerie Wilson? Guilty because they had the temerity to participate in politics and contribute to Al Gore (although they also contributed to George Bush senior). Mary McCarthy? Guilty as well for contributing to John Kerry. Of course, we can conveniently forget that she stood up to the Clinton Administration for its unjustified bombing of a factory in Sudan. Why worry about facts? Bush finds them convenient to ignore.

What we are witnessing is a political purge of the CIA. The Bush Administration is working to expel and isolate any intelligence officer who does not toe the line and profess allegiance to George. It is no longer about protecting and defending the Constitution. No. It is about protecting the indefensible reputation of George Bush.

The firing of Mary McCarthy and her trial in the media is a travesty. Particularly when George Bush continues to harbor leakers who put selfish political motives above the welfare of this nation. It remains to be seen if Mary McCarthy had anything to do with the leak of secret prisons. There is no doubt, however, that Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Stephen Hadley, Dick Cheney, and George Bush directly participated in a campaign to leak misleading intelligence information to the American people. Patrick Fitzgerald’s court filings make that point abundantly clear. Under George Bush, America is being asked to tolerate Gulag Politics. That is something I find intolerable and unconscionable.

See also:

Glenn Greenwald: “A Political Movement Built on Rage

Digby: “Agitating for a Crackdown

Taylor Marsh: “McCarthy as CIA Scapegoat

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26 Comments

24 Comments

  1. The Left  •  Apr 25, 2006 @12:43 pm

    I’ll just get this out of the way so there can be a substantive conversation: no GODDAMNED way that lawyer’s name is Ty Cobb.

  2. maha  •  Apr 25, 2006 @1:06 pm

    The Left: Are you implying that dead baseball players can’t make perfectly good lawyers? I don’t see why not.

  3. Sam  •  Apr 25, 2006 @1:17 pm

    Maha,
    First, your bottom link to Glenn Greenwald’s “A Political Movement Built on Rage” goes instead to Larry Johnson’s former link.
    But more importantly, each time I read one of your posts, I want to save it and send it to my conservative parents. Once again, you’ve clearly and irrefutably laid out disturbing information that all citizens should know. How far will this go before our nation understands exactly what path we’re on? And it isn’t the yellow brick road.

  4. joanr16  •  Apr 25, 2006 @1:22 pm

    At least you’d think Ms. McCarthy would seek representation from Joltin’ Joe.

    But seriously. This episode and the media storm has me thinking about leaks. There seems to be a groundswell of zero-tolerance for leakers (unless, I guess, the leaker is the president). That attitude worries me, since leakers seem to be our only hope for justice in the time of a secretive, lawbreaking administration.

    Criminal law makes subtle distinctions over motive, and as Larry Johnson implies, motive should be the criterion by which leakers are judged. It really isn’t that complicated: 1. Revelation to silence a critic = BAD; 2. Revelation of criminal activity = GOOD. And yes, torture is a criminal activity.

  5. justme  •  Apr 25, 2006 @1:49 pm

    My biggest problem with this entire story is that everyone is mad at mary,, saying that her speaking out about the story(if she did)amounted to treason because the information harmed our country so greatly, not to mention caused an international crisis….

    No one has bothered to consider it is not her telling that is the problem,, it is that we are torturing people in secret prisons in the first pace that is the problem.We don’t know who is in them, whether they are Americans, whether they are innocent..whatever…the right is foolish to be so fast to just accept this… lest someday they may end up in one of these secret prisons.

    Stop being mad at Mary,, and start asking the question: Do we really want to be a country who snatches people off the street from anywhere in the world and inprisons them at will?Do we want to be a nation who tortures?Do we want to know nothing our government is doing(EVEN WHEN IT’S ILLEGAL)…When your own child vanishes and no one can tell you where they are will that be ok,? because YOUR child has nothing to hide and sure they will torture him/her for a bit, but come on,, it’s for a good cause …

    The righties are FAST to point out if you have nothing to hide and you are doing nothing wrong you shouldn’t mind the government spying on you,,, the same holds true for MY employees in the federal government,,, if they are not doing anything wrong, what do they have to hide???Rather then look to Mary with shame they should look at themselves…The government belongs to the people, and if Bush and his pals are breaking the law, the American people have a right to know.

    It is nice to see righties owning up to who they really are… I hope they speak up louder so everyone will see their true colors…secret prisons and torture at will are the new christian values they stand for,,exposing the illegal activity is treason…what sick people…this is what happens when bush cuts mental health funding…they are called bush’s base

    Please someone tell me why we don’t just split up as a country????Do we want to be united with the element in the above links??????????Really???

  6. Britwit  •  Apr 25, 2006 @3:06 pm

    I love Molly Ivins as much as I hate Karl Rove. I just look at the pudgy guy and get disgusted.

  7. Sam  •  Apr 25, 2006 @3:40 pm

    Britwit –
    I know what you mean. There’s such a feeling of smarmy mean bully about him. If you read any biography about him (nonpartisan, even) you just wonder how a whole party could have accepted him so proudly as the guy closest to a president’s ear. Bush’s brain is rotten to the core.

    Maha, thanks for the corrected link to Glenn’s post – although, after reading it, I’m more worried than ever. Glenn makes a harrowing point. What would Bush do in the event of another attack? Also, election season is only now starting. We’re in for it, I have no doubt. We’re going to have to hold fast and speak out and hope that this sorry crowd will lose its footing before they bring the whole house down on top of us all.

  8. alyosha  •  Apr 25, 2006 @3:42 pm

    The righties are FAST to point out if you have nothing to hide and you are doing nothing wrong you shouldn’t mind the government spying on you.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that people who think this are naive children who know nothing about the reasons why our country was founded. Our founders had first hand experience with tyrants, and knew it was stupid to trust people in power to be “good”.

    We have to come up with an effective retort to the know-nothings who utter this dangerous cliche. Democracy is an adult pursuit; what these children want is some beneficient daddy-king to tell them what to think and how to behave, and he will keep them safe. These people are babies, unknowing, undeserving, and destructive of the great nation they’re living in, and need to have these facts pointed out to them.

  9. Ed Deevy  •  Apr 25, 2006 @4:02 pm

    This is really OT…but wanted to reference this excellent Op Ed by Zbigniew Brzezinski in today’s Herald Tribune…

    http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2006/04/25/opinion/edzbig.php

  10. justme  •  Apr 25, 2006 @5:01 pm

    #8 – Alyosha, I couldn’t agree more! Well said!!

  11. justme  •  Apr 25, 2006 @5:08 pm

    speaking of off topic,,,Whats with michelle malkin??? First I heard last week some blogger published her home address and phone number and she packed up her home and moved ??????Hmmmm…. then a new blog called hotair(fitting) and she calls her part of it “Vent”???????FYI , “vent” is what a bird releases waste from….cute she named her rant after a birds asshole,, but my parrot is not amused… stop insulting bird bottoms michelle!

  12. Donna  •  Apr 25, 2006 @6:24 pm

    If Rove is behind the Mary McCarthy situation, all he has done is throw a herring to the piranha, who are happily devouring scraps nowadays. The increasingly shrill righties are determined to avoid ‘being frustrated to the edge of enlightenment” about the Bush administration’s self-inflicted and steady fall in the polls.

    It is such a relief from shrillness to come to the Mahablog and read what trumps rovian tactics–thoughts based in maturity and sanity. Kudos re: this post especially to justme and alyosha and sam for their comments above, comments which put the lie to and help us laugh at the inanity of kool-aiders.

  13. emel  •  Apr 25, 2006 @6:48 pm

    This is beginning to have a real smell. McCarthy wasn’t in a position to know, she gave to Dems. she was 11 days from retirement.
    Sounds like Karl had to get the headlines away from the generals and Bush’s failures and back to: 1.Osama released a audio tape. 2.McCarthy, that Dem CIA woman is a traitor. 3. Zarqawi releases a video looking hale and hearty and ABC says: other tapes have been released but were seized before being broadcast.
    Now if that doesn’t add up what the hell does?

  14. Bob 'n Seattle  •  Apr 25, 2006 @11:05 pm

    What were seeing here is a successful version of the failed muzzling of Joseph Wilson. At no point in the past five days has the CIA actually said she was involved in the Prison leak…… unnamed sources certainly do…… but not the CIA. Very slick. So slick even the left bought into it.

    If these people had and integrity at all they’d acknowledge that her violations were not part of the Prison leaks…..

    but the milage is soooo good….

    why bother?

  15. Tom Maguire  •  Apr 25, 2006 @11:27 pm

    I doubt the “certain media outlets” weren’t able to find the amount of money McCarthy and her husband donated to Democrats. Rather, to someone who’s not a blazing-hot partisan the information is not particularly significant, especially before McCarthy has actually been convicted of anything.

    (1) My particular beef was with the NY Times, which has repeatedly reported her $2,000 donation to Kerry but overlooked her $5,000 donation in Oct 2004 to the Dems of Ohio.

    (2) Your point that a pattern of donations does not mean much becomes a comedy classic when put alongside this old Abramoff post lauding Krugman’s following of the money.

    More generally, without “cherchez la femme” and “Follow the money” we would lose about 90% of crime fact and fiction.

  16. maha  •  Apr 25, 2006 @11:49 pm

    More generally, without “cherchez la femme” and “Follow the money” we would lose about 90% of crime fact and fiction.

    1. Since when are legal campaign contributions a “crime”?

    2. It may be that whoever is investigating the allegations against Ms. McCarthy is following lots of money. However, making a Big Deal out of legal campaign contributions amounts to witch hunting; it’s guilt by association — she’s a Democrat, therefore she’s guilty. I’m saying rational, objective people don’t assume an association without more evidence of wrongdoing.

    Your point that a pattern of donations does not mean much becomes a comedy classic when put alongside this old Abramoff post lauding Krugman’s following of the money.

    The Krugman column was about news media misreporting the facts of the Abramoff case. Abramoff had already pleaded guilty when that column was written, and the evidence and sentence against him was in public record, and the media was still screwing it up.

    McCarthy, on the other hand, is not yet under indictment, and the campaign contributions were legal. You rightie bloggers forming your virtual lynch mobs and making unsupported assumptions about McCarthy’s motives amounts to a witch hunt.

    McCarthy: Legal campaing contributions.

    Abramoff: Fraud.

    4. If you can’t see the difference, you must be unhinged.

  17. Tom Maguire  •  Apr 26, 2006 @1:42 pm

    I’m saying rational, objective people don’t assume an association without more evidence of wrongdoing.

    Actually, in your post you were saying that there was no need for reporters to report this at all; I’m saying, report the evidence and let the reader evaluate it.

    Since when are legal campaign contributions a “crime”?

    …If you can’t see the difference, you must be unhinged.

    Good job arguing against strawmen, although “unhinged” suggests we are drifting towards ad hominem as a subsitute for logic. That may be a shrewd tactic in this instance. Obviously, I am not arguing that her contributions are a crime; I am arguing that they are relevant, objective, verifiable evidence of her *possible* partisan inclinations.

    In my world, folks looking for indications of Ms. McCarthy’s possible partisanship will find her contribution pattern interesting, leagal or not.

    Or try another way – would you think it noteworthy if public records showed she had contributed to Bush in 2004?

    Here is an example of the NY Times pondering her partisanship but overlooking the facts:

    The case has increasingly taken on distinct partisan coloring. Ms. McCarthy gave $2,000 to Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and conservative commentators suggested that Ms. McCarthy had deliberately tried to sabotage President Bush’s policies by leaking to the news media.

    In his Monday broadcast, Rush Limbaugh, the radio personality, called Ms. McCarthy a “Clinton person” and part of a “shadow government in opposition,” suggesting that she was one of a number of C.I.A. officers who had worked against the White House. “When we’ve said that the C.I.A. was at war with the White House, we were more right than we knew,” Mr. Limbaugh said.

    Yet friends and former colleagues have strongly challenged that partisan allegiance ever governed Ms. McCarthy’s actions.

    “That’s not the Mary McCarthy that I know,” said Rand Beers, a former colleague of Ms. McCarthy’s on the National Security Council who has spoken to her several times since her firing.

    “I’m glad she was prepared to push back,” Mr. Beers said. “I was concerned that we were only hearing one side of the story.”did not plead guilty to directing the donations of Indian tribes, why are they (per your flexible standards) part of the story? Do you, or Krugman, actually think they are evidence of his preference for Republicans? Why?

  18. maha  •  Apr 26, 2006 @2:19 pm

    Actually, in your post you were saying that there was no need for reporters to report this at all; I’m saying, report the evidence and let the reader evaluate it.

    It isn’t evidence. It’s an implication of guilt-by-association. If investigation finds that McCarthy was plotting with Democrats to smear the President, then you might say that the campaign contributions were a flag that led to evidence.

    I am arguing that they are relevant, objective, verifiable evidence of her *possible* partisan inclinations.

    As such they might be worth a brief mention, which is what they got. You want to put the contributions in a 48-point banner headline because you believe it “proves” McCarthy is a Democratic mole and operative.

    I’m assuming the New York Times piece is objectionable to you because it tells both sides of the partisan argument — you think she’s guilty and the contributions point to her guilt; we think she’s a victim of a witch hunt. Obviously it enrages you that the Times would dare publish something other than your side.

    Then we get to the Krugman story, although your comment is truncated and I’m not sure what point you want to make. I say again that the Krugman post was written after Abramoff’s guilty plea, and after all the evidence against him was a matter of public record. Krugman’s post was not about Abramoff but about the media’s botched reporting of the facts of the Abramoff case, which again are all a matter of public record. Nothing hidden, nothing that anybody has to guess at. And the facts plainly show that the Abramoff operation was about funneling large amounts of money to Republicans and only Republicans. This is a fact, not innuendo, not implication, not guilt-by-association. Just all-out, bare-assed fact.

  19. Tom Maguire  •  Apr 26, 2006 @5:24 pm

    You want to put the contributions in a 48-point banner headline because you believe it “proves” McCarthy is a Democratic mole and operative.

    …Obviously it enrages you that the Times would dare publish something other than your side.

    As such they might be worth a brief mention, which is what they got. You want to put the contributions in a 48-point banner headline because you believe it “proves” McCarthy is a Democratic mole and operative.

    I hope there is no charge for the psycho-analysis – I’m sure I couldn’t afford your rates.

    Just so you know – I am ENRAGED!!! that the Times saw fit to mention her $2,000 to Kerry but not her $5,000 contribution in Oct 2004 to the Democratic Party of Ohio.

    How the Times editors could find one to be relevant but not the other is baffling.

    Since we seem to have found common ground with your admission that “they might be worth a brief mention”, I will close by noting that the Washington Post, for example, has not yet 9to my knowledge) mentioned those contributions.

  20. maha  •  Apr 26, 2006 @5:36 pm

    How the Times editors could find one to be relevant but not the other is baffling.

    The article says she contributed money to Democrats, which may or may not be relevant to anything, but whether the amount was $2000 or $7000 makes little difference to people who aren’t working REAL HARD to find the lady guilty of something.

  21. Tom Maguire  •  Apr 27, 2006 @9:37 am

    …whether the amount was $2000 or $7000 makes little difference to people who aren’t working REAL HARD to find the lady guilty of something.

    Possible motto – “Some of the News That’s Fit to Print”. I’m intrigued that at least one member of the Reality Based Community finds actual facts to be so intrusive upon that reality.

    Any thoughts on my earlier question as to whether her contribution history would suddenly become relevant if we learned she was a Bush donor?

  22. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @9:49 am

    Any thoughts on my earlier question as to whether her contribution history would suddenly become relevant if we learned she was a Bush donor?

    I don’t think campaign contributions either way, especially small individual contributions, are significant unless there is an appearance of quid pro quo. I don’t see the quid pro quo in McCarthy’s case.

  23. Tom Maguire  •  Apr 27, 2006 @11:30 am

    I don’t see the quid pro quo in McCarthy’s case.

    Why are you looking for a quid pro quo?

    Just suppose I had a video of Ms. McCarthy standing on a street corner handing out Kerry pamphlets, wearing an “Impeach Bush Now!” button, and periodically shouting into a bullhorn “Stop the war! End the madness! Regime change begins at home!”

    Does that sound illegal? Not to me (although I am not familiar with any details of the CIA employment agreement).

    Does it sound even vaguely relevant to the question of whether her inclination to leak, and the stories she chose to leak, may have been motivated by a desire to embarrass Bush? We are looking for clues to her motivation and state of mind (I thought).

    Well, I don’t have a videotape. But I see she gave a “small amount” ($7,000) to the Democrats in 2004.

    Nothing to see here? Nothing even to report?

  24. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @11:40 am

    Just suppose I had a video of Ms. McCarthy standing on a street corner handing out Kerry pamphlets, wearing an “Impeach Bush Now!” button, and periodically shouting into a bullhorn “Stop the war! End the madness! Regime change begins at home!”

    That would be indicative of a significant degree of passion, I agree. She didn’t do that, though, did she?

    Nothing to see here? Nothing even to report?

    But it was reported. It just wasn’t blown up into the Big Deal you seem to think it is. But it only seems like a Big Deal to you because you are looking for excuses to burn the witch.

    Making a Big Deal out of the contributions in news stories would imply that the contributions indicate she did something wrong, and without more evidence we don’t know that. Maybe eventually we’ll find out she did leak classified information, but until there is more evidence a campaign contribution is just a campaign contribution, no more and no less.

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