Apr 22 2006

Mary McCarthy Plame Source For Knight Ridder?

One story in the Plame Game that always tantalized me was the Knight Ridder story that came out June 12, 2003. It is one of the first three stories (the other two being the Kristof and Pincus articles) that dealt with the Joe Wilson story. No one really discusses this story much anymore, but it struck me as unique in its accuracy regarding the inside scoop into the CIA at this critical time – nearly a month before Joe Wilson outed himself. First look at the sourcing and the thrust:

A senior CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the intelligence agency informed the White House on March 9, 2002 – 10 months before Bush’s nationally televised speech – that an agency source who had traveled to Niger couldn’t confirm European intelligence reports that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from the West African country.

Emphasis mine. This is so in tune with the anti-Bush cabal we have come to recognize it seems obvious. But only a few people ever were clumsy enough to link the Niger forgeries to Wilson’s Niger trip. In fact, only certain people with an agenda would leak include the forgeries. So we know someone with a certain bent leaked here:

Three senior administration officials said Vice President Dick Cheney and some officials on the National Security Council staff and at the Pentagon ignored the CIA’s reservations and argued that the president and others should include the allegation in their case against Saddam.

The claim later turned out to be based on crude forgeries that an African diplomat had sold to Italian intelligence officials.

Well, the three officials are not necessarily discussing the forgeries, they are discussing the infighting. We have possible names like Grossman and Armitage to put to these nameless sources. Another could be McCarthy. Check out the detail the senior CIA official is able to accurately present:

The CIA’s March 2002 warning about Iraq’s alleged uranium-shopping expedition in Niger was sent to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Justice Department and the FBI the same day it went to the White House, the senior CIA official said.

This would be the NIE I gather (not sure). But few people at this stage of the story had this detailed of knowledge. It would take the Senate a year to produce this kind of insight. And the CIA official appears to be the one in the story harping on the Niger uranium:

In the months before Bush’s State of the Union speech, the senior CIA official said, agency officials also told the State Department, National Security Council staffers and members of Congress that they doubted that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium from Niger.

Since this was a CIA source the only one I could think of who would carry this water was Valerie – except she was not a senior CIA official. When I read Spook86’s insights to McCarthy’s incredibly high level positions it seemed we had a perfect suspect. There is a lot of detail relating to the Wilson trip and reporting that was just being pulled together at the CIA – and there is one word that blows this whole theory out of the water:

The senior CIA official said the agency first heard about an alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal in reports from unidentified European intelligence services in late 2001 and early 2002.

“There were people who had questions about the overall story. It didn’t make sense. It was sketchy information that was not validated by other means,” he said.

Nevertheless, continued interest in Cheney’s office, the NSC, the State Department and other agencies prompted the CIA to ask a retired U.S. ambassador to Niger to go there in February 2002 to inquire into the alleged deal, he said.

The CIA kept any reference to the former diplomat’s identity out of its March 2002 message to the White House.

The message quoted a CIA “source” as saying he had spoken to people close to the Niger government, former senior officials and people involved in the country’s mining industry, who all rejected the reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. The former ambassador said he believed what they were telling him.

The message contained the names of people to whom the source spoke, said the senior CIA official.

It wasn’t until February 2003 that the CIA obtained the original Iraq-Niger documents on which the uranium story was based, he said.

The word of course is ‘he’, which could have been correct (which is why I have said this must be from Tenet), but then again it could be a deliberate misinformation plant. All the way through this the sex of sources is well hidden. Most journalist know better than to expose this much about a source. This looks like such a clumsy mistake it doesn’t feel right.

So I am wondering if Mary McCarthy’s leaking ways began way back in June 2003, while the CIA was investigating the then anonymous claims of Joe Wilson – most likely through the Inspector General’s office where Mary worked.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Mary McCarthy Plame Source For Knight Ridder?”

  1. topsecretk9@AJ says:


    Dana Priest and Walter Pincus have collabaratted on a lot of CIA reporting…I would not be surprised if she were a source for Pincus as well.

  2. topsecretk9@AJ says:


  3. truthtime says:

    Actually “he” is used for attribution at least 3 times in this excerpt. Don’t know what to make of it, but it can’t be a slip.
    Also, maybe Mary McCarthy is the person who referred the Plame “leak” case for special investigation. That would make sense.

  4. truthtime says:

    Actually “he” is used at least 3 times in this excerpt.
    Also, maybe McCarthy is the persosn who requested the Plame “leak” investigation.

  5. AJStrata says:


    Thanks for the catch. There are so many sources scattered in this.

  6. truthtime says:

    Sorry for the double posting; had received an error message after first.

  7. Tnactitan says:

    Another interesting Plame-Wilson link. Here is a PDF of CIP’s winter 2003-2004 Newsletter. (Remember, Dana Priest’s husband is the exec. dir. of CIP) Look at the photoes of the “Cowboy Diplomacy” conference held at the US Senate in October 2003. That’s Melvin Goodman sitting right next to Dana Priest. And then go to page 5 –where you’ll see none other that Amb. Joe Wilson shared the stage with Ms. Priest-Goodfellow and Goodman.


    The more we find out about Ms. Priest, the more I think she deserved her Pulitzer–just like Walter Duranty did in the 1930s.