Bryan at Why Now? provides a look at why a CIA operative might blow the whistle on an operation like Abu Ghraib.
In the military and most government jobs, if something happens that you think is wrong there are procedures in place to deal with the problem. First you go up your chain of command to fix the problem. If that doesn’t work, or the problem deals with your chain of command, you then go to your Inspector General.
Mary McCarthy was an analyst who was in a pre-retirement job; she wasn’t in CIA operations. The problem wasn’t hers; it was reported to her as a member of the Inspector General’s staff. She recognized what was happening as a problem, and, apparently, nothing was being done about it.
Mary McCarthy was the last resort for someone reporting illegal behavior, and she saw that it was being ignored. She did the only thing she knew that would fix the problem: she went public.
The right-wing is all over Ms. McCarthy, labeling her as a traitor on the level of Aldrich Ames and Alger Hiss. The difference is, of course, that what Ms. McCarthy leaked was a report of illegal activity that resulted in criminal charges and prosecutions. History has proven that using the shield of “classified” to cover up illegal activities has always come back to bite us in the ass.