Outed CIA analyst Mary McCarthy is denying through her lawyers that she was the source for the Washington Post's Dana Priest in revealing the secret prisons that housed terrorists overseas. McCarthy's lawyers, though, aren't throwing cold water on the notion that McCarthy may have had political inclinations and agendas that came into play with what even they termed unauthorized or undisclosed contacts with journalists.
Perhaps that's why the Howard Dean and others at the Democrat National Committee are looking to some of their donors to set up a legal defense fund for McCarthy.
"If Scooter Libby can have a legal defense fund and website, then McCarthy should have one too," says a DNC staffer. "The DNC wouldn't set it up, we'd have some of our donors do it on the outside. There are plenty of consultants willing to help on this one, we think."
The whole legal defense fund notion is interesting if only because McCarthy is claiming that there is no need for one. The FBI has not received a request from the CIA to formally investigate her activities while an active CIA employee, and McCarthy claims she wasn't the source. So case, closed, right?
Well, not quite. Republicans in both the House and the Senate view McCarthy as the first of what they believe are four or five individuals who used access to information for political purposes.
"Going back to the Presidential election in 2004, there was a lot of negative information coming out of Democratic campaigns," says a former Bush Administration staffer. "And it wasn't the kind of stuff that was readily available from opposition research. This was leaked material. A lot of it wasn't national security related, but it established a pattern that has followed form for almost two years now. There is orchestrated leaking, and the FBI, the CIA and Congress has to do something about it."
Fairly or unfairly, McCarthy may become a test case, and given her interest in the law, it should be quite the learning experience for all involved.
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