Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bush administration works to gut CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency has a long history of controversy. Many on the left have called for its abolition. However, there is an old say that you should be careful for what you wish for. While the Bush administration is not proposing to abolish the CIA, it has certainly worked to undermine it.

Sidney Blumenthal wrote a piece for Salon, which now appears in the online edition of Der Speigel, about the demise of the CIA under the Bush administration. According to Blumenthal,

On April 21, 2005, his mission dictated by Bush's political imperatives, Goss became CIA director. Immediately, he sent a memo to all employees, ordering them to "support the administration and its policies in our work." He underscored the supremacy of the party line: "As agency employees we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies."

He installed four political aides to run the agency from his offices on the seventh floor at Langley. Within weeks, an exodus of professionals began and then turned into a flood. In the Directorate of Operations, he lost the director, two deputies, and more than a dozen department and division directors and station chiefs out in the field. In the Directorate of Intelligence, dozens took early retirement. Four former operations chiefs, horrified by the carnage, sought to meet with Goss, but he refused.

The vacuum created by the gutting of the CIA by Porter Goss has led to the take over of more and more intelligence work by the Pentagon. Whatever faults the CIA may have (and there are many), it is a civilian agency trained to make wide overviews of intelligence whether they are economic, political or military. Blumenthal makes the point the military is trained for one kind of analysis for which they have one type of solution:

The militarization of intelligence under Bush is likely to guarantee military solutions above other options. Uniformed officers trained to identity military threats and trends will take over economic and political intelligence for which they are untrained and often incapable, and their priorities will skew analysis. But the bias toward the military option will be one that the military in the end will dislike. It will find itself increasingly bearing the brunt of foreign policy and stretched beyond endurance. The vicious cycle leads to a downward spiral.

Read the article by Sidney Blumenthal here.

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