The agency said on Friday that the dismissal of an officer over a media leak was extremely rare and resulted from a three-month-old in-house investigation aimed at agency operations that had been the subject of recent media leaks.
Sources familiar with the case said the firing stemmed from the Washington Post’s reporting last November about secret CIA prisons for terrorism suspects. The coverage sparked an international outcry over US detainee policies and also won a Pulitzer Prize, America‘s leading journalism award.
The CIA would not say what the leak involved, and declined to identify the officer or describe the officer’s duties at the agency, saying that such disclosures would violate the Privacy Act of 1974.
“This CIA officer acknowledged having unauthorized discussions with the media in which the officer knowingly shared classified intelligence, including operational information”
Michele Neff,CIA spokeswoman
“This CIA officer acknowledged having unauthorized discussions with the media in which the officer knowingly shared classified intelligence, including operational information,” Michele Neff, CIA spokeswoman, said.
Neff said the officer’s actions violated a secrecy agreement that CIA employees sign when they begin working for the agency.
The Washington Post reported that the CIA operated a network of secret prisons for terrorism suspects in countries overseas, including some in Eastern Europe.
The report spawned a number of investigations in Europe that have yet to produce definitive evidence that the secret prisons did exist.
It was not clear whether the dismissed CIA officer could face charges as part of a Justice Department investigation that a US official said has been launched into the prisons leak. A Justice Department spokesman had no comment.
CIA internal probe
Porter Goss (L) made a strong case
Meanwhile, the CIA said its own internal investigation into leaks was continuing. The probe began in January.
Porter Goss, the CIA director, made a strong case against media leaks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in February.
“I’m sorry to tell you that the damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission. I use the words ‘very severe’ intentionally. That is my belief. And I think that the evidence will show that,” Goss said.
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, called for prosecution in the case and said vigorous leak investigations should continue across the international community.
“Clearly, those guilty of improperly disclosing classified information should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said in a statement.