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How to Create a WIA — Worthless Intelligence Agency


Two weeks after George Bush’s reelection, Porter J. Goss, the newly appointed Director of Central Intelligence, wrote an internal memorandum to all employees of his agency telling them, “[Our job is to] support the administration and its policies in our work. As agency employees, we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.”[1] Translated from bureaucrat-speak, this directive says, “You now work for the Republican Party. The intelligence you produce must first and foremost protect the President from being held accountable for the delusions he has concerning Iraq, Osama bin Laden, preventive war, torturing captives, democracy growing from the barrel of a gun, and the ‘war on terror.’”

 

This approach is not new, even though former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman declares that “the current situation is the worst intelligence scandal in the nation’s history.”[2] Back in 1973, when James Schlesinger briefly succeeded Richard Helms as CIA director, he proclaimed on arrival at the agency’s Virginia “campus”: “I am here to see that you guys don’t screw Richard Nixon.”[3] Schlesinger underscored his point by saying that he would be reporting directly to White House political adviser Bob Haldeman and not to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. In the contemporary White House, Goss need not bother going directly to Karl Rove since Bush’s outgoing and incoming National Security Advisers, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, have both been working for months under Rove’s direction primarily to reelect the President.

 

In 1973, Schlesinger wanted to protect Nixon from revelations that the CIA had broken into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and illegally infiltrated the antiwar movement within the United States. His actual achievement was to perpetuate Washington‘s idée fixe that the United States could still win the Vietnam War despite overwhelming intelligence to the contrary. The same is likely to be true today and the outcome is likely to be similar. Just as thirty years ago, an administration refused to pay attention to its own internal intelligence assessments and lost the Vietnam War, so another administration has again wrapped itself in a fantasy bubble of wishful thinking and so is losing the war it started in Iraq.

 

Intelligence and the Truth-teller

 

Part of the background to the Goss memo is a widespread misunderstanding of why the CIA was created and what it actually does. For example, Bush apostle David Brooks writes in the New York Times that the CIA is engaged “in slow-motion brazen insubordination, which violate[s] all standards of honorable public service. . . . It is time to reassert some harsh authority so CIA employees know they must defer to the people who win elections. . . . If they [people in the CIA] ever want their information to be trusted, they can’t break the law with self-serving leaks of classified data.”[4] Brooks seems to think that the CIA is the President’s personal advertising agency and that its employees owe their livelihoods to him. About Michael Scheuer, the head of the “bin Laden Unit” in the agency’s Counterterrorism Center from 1996 to 1999 and the anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, Brooks fumes, “Here was an official on the president’s payroll publicly campaigning against his boss.”

 

Leave aside the fact that the President doesn’t pay any government official’s salary, at least not legally, and that Scheuer was more interested in educating the public about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, on which he is an authority, than in covering up the President’s mistakes; the point is that the issue of the CIA’s intelligence on the Iraq war is bringing back into our political life once again the figure most feared by presidents: the truth-teller. During a previous period of falsified intelligence, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger said in the Oval Office in front of President Nixon and his Special Counsel Charles Colson, “Daniel Ellsberg is the most dangerous man in America. He must be stopped at all costs.”[5] Kissinger and Nixon subsequently ordered up felonies, such as a break-in at Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office, in order to try to smear and discredit the man who had revealed to the public the systematic lying of three presidents — Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson — about the war in Vietnam.

 

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had ordered a special staff to write a top secret History of U.S.

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