September 29, 2004

Political IEDs

Our own domestic insurgency: diehards inside the Central Intelligence Agency. Is Porter Goss tough enough to take them on?

It's become obvious over the past couple of years that large swaths of the CIA oppose U.S. anti-terror policy, especially toward Iraq. But rather than keep this dispute in-house, the dissenters have taken their objections to the public, albeit usually through calculated and anonymous leaks that are always spun to make the agency look good and the Bush Administration look bad.

Their latest improvised explosive political device blew up yesterday on the front page of the New York Times, in a story proclaiming that the agency had warned back in January 2003 of a possible insurgency in Iraq. This highly selective leak... was conveniently timed for two days before the first Presidential debate.

Keep in mind that none of these CIA officials were ever elected to anything, and that they are employed to provide accurate information to officials who present their policy choices for voter judgment. Yet what the CIA insurgents are essentially doing here, with their leaks and insubordination, is engaging in a policy debate. Given the timing of the latest leaks so close to an election, they are now clearly trying to defeat President Bush and elect John Kerry. Yet somehow the White House stands accused of "politicizing" intelligence?

Our point here isn't to assail everyone at the CIA, which includes thousands of patriots doing their best to protect America. But clearly at senior rungs of the agency there is a culture that has deep policy attachments that have been offended by Mr. Bush, and these officials want him defeated. American voters need to understand this amid this election season.

Read the details.

Question: why is this NIE to be trusted implicitly while the earlier NIE which judged with high confidence that Iraq had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons has become thoroughly despised?

Question: how would these bitter critics of the President's policy decisions answer the charge by Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy director of the agency, that the CIA has fundamental problems in intelligence collection and analysis?

Question: is it significant to this dispute that scholar Herbert E. Meyer believes the CIA's fundamental problem is that the agency no longer attracts the best minds?

Related:

New York Times - Prewar Assessment on Iraq Saw Chance of Strong Divisions
Robert Novak - Is CIA at war with Bush?
Washington Post - Growing Pessimism on Iraq
National Intelligence Council

Posted by Alan at September 29, 2004 12:23 AM