WASHINGTON — In a rare occurrence, the CIA fired an officer who acknowledged giving classified information to a reporter, NBC News learned Friday.
The officer flunked a polygraph exam before being fired on Thursday and is now under investigation by the Justice Department, NBC has learned.
Intelligence sources tell NBC News the accused officer, Mary McCarthy, worked in the CIA's inspector general's office and had worked for the National Security Council under the Clinton and and George W. Bush administrations.
The leak pertained to stories on the CIA’s rumored secret prisons in Eastern Europe, sources told NBC. The information was allegedly provided to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who wrote about CIA prisons in November and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for her reporting.
Sources said the CIA believes McCarthy had more than a dozen unauthorized contacts with Priest. Information about subjects other than the prisons may have been leaked as well.
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the firing.
CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise confirmed the dismissal. Millerwise said she was unsure whether there had ever been a firing before at the agency for leaking to the media.
Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officer’s identity or assignments.
All CIA employees are required to sign a secrecy agreement upon being hired stating they are prohibited from discussing classified information with anyone not cleared to receive the material.
Before going public with her name, NBC News reached McCarthy's husband, Michael. He said he could not confirm that his wife had been fired from her career post. He declined further comment.
Priest said she could not comment on the firing, which she said she learned about from NBC News.
The Washington Post report caused an international uproar, and government officials have said it did significant damage to relationships between the U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.
CIA Director Porter Goss told the Senate in February that leaks to the media had damaged national security. Subsequently, Goss ordered an internal investigation on leaks involving classified security data.
The probe led to the fired CIA officer, sources told NBC.
This leak is not linked to the recent scandal in the CIA involving undercover agent Valerie Plame’s identity’s being revealed, NBC reported.
Separately, the Justice Department is investigating New York Times stories about the National Security Agency’s domestic warrantless eavesdropping. Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau won a Pulitzer on Monday for their reporting on the issue.
The NSA and other agencies had requested the probe, sources told NBC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.