Saturday, November 13, 2004

Internal Conflicts: The CIA Versus Bush?

Much ado has been made today (and, after Sunday's Steve Kroft interview with "Anonymous" as well as after all of the talking heads shows are through, we'll be talking about this issue all of next week) between the Washington Post and The New York Times's pro-Bushie David Brooks (who, incidentally came up with "CIA versus Bush") of the internal squabbling between the Bush Administration and the CIA.

Things haven't been helped by the fact that the number two man at CIA, a man who for nearly 3 months this actually helmed the organization, resigned on a Friday, two days before the big Steve Kroft 60 Minutes piece, thus making it THE big issue on talking heads shows this weekend. As the Washington Post writes:

"The deputy director of the CIA resigned yesterday after a series of confrontations over the past week between senior operations officials and CIA Director Porter J. Goss's new chief of staff that have left the agency in turmoil, according to several current and former CIA officials."

Above: Thin lips? Check. Grave demeanor? Check? White Man? Check. The West in the Hour of the Wolf: Former CIA chief, John McLaughlin.

"John E. McLaughlin, a 32-year CIA veteran who was acting director for two months this summer until Goss took over, resigned after warning Goss that his top aide, former Capitol Hill staff member Patrick Murray, was treating senior officials disrespectfully and risked widespread resignations, the officials said. "

Brooks says of the "dysfunctional relationship" -- his terminology -- between the Administration and the Agency:

"Over the past several months, as much of official Washington looked on wide-eyed and agog, many in the C.I.A. bureaucracy have waged an unabashed effort to undermine the current administration."

This information parallels what we are hearing about internal dissention in the State Department. Quite possibly both events suggest the after effects of the lack influence of an internationalist philosophy in this administration, as, most tellingly, expressed in then-Governor Bush's 1999 address to the Ronald Reagan Library, where he repudiated nations unwilling to make bold maneuvers on the world stage, saying, "... Our goal is a fellowship of strong, not weak, nations. And this requires both more American consultation and more American leadership."

Brooks of The Times continues, about the contretemps:

"At the height of the campaign, C.I.A. officials, who are supposed to serve the president and stay out of politics and policy, served up leak after leak to discredit the president's Iraq policy. There were leaks of prewar intelligence estimates, leaks of interagency memos. In mid-September, somebody leaked a C.I.A. report predicting a gloomy or apocalyptic future for the region. Later that month, a senior C.I.A. official, Paul Pillar, reportedly made comments saying he had long felt the decision to go to war would heighten anti-American animosity in the Arab world.

"White House officials concluded that they could no longer share important arguments and information with intelligence officials. They had to parse every syllable in internal e-mail. One White House official says it felt as if the C.I.A. had turned over its internal wastebaskets and fed every shred of paper to the press."

of The New York Times writes:

"Deep, unresolved tensions between new leaders and senior career officers at the Central Intelligence Agency threaten to set off a rebellion within the agency's clandestine service, according to current and former intelligence officials.

"The tensions pit the new intelligence chief, Porter J. Goss, against the C.I.A.'s directorate of operations, the most powerful and secretive part of the agency. Winning allegiance from the career spies within the clandestine service is widely regarded as essential to the success of any intelligence chief.

"For now, former intelligence officials say, many career C.I.A. officers do not know whether to regard Mr. Goss as someone dispatched by the White House to punish the agency for past failures, or to rebuild its capabilities to make it stronger in the future.

"The officials said that discontent had reached a point not seen at the C.I.A. for more than 25 years, and they expressed concern that an atmosphere of ill-will and apprehension could distract the agency from its work in the fight against terrorism, where it plays a leading role."

The Washington Post continues:

"Yesterday, the agency official who oversees foreign operations, Deputy Director of Operations Stephen R. Kappes, tendered his resignation after a confrontation with Murray. Goss and the White House pleaded with Kappes to reconsider and he agreed to delay his decision until Monday, the officials said.

"Several other senior clandestine service officers are threatening to leave, current and former agency officials said.

"'It's the worst roiling I've ever heard of,' said one former senior official with knowledge of the events. 'There's confusion throughout the ranks and an extraordinary loss of morale and incentive.'"

All this in an era of Post Cold War asymmetrical threats.


(S)wine said...

Yea, this is big-time news. The Agency is such a rogue entity...

Glad to see you're groovin' on the political track.

P.S. It always takes FOREVER to make comments on your blog. It must be Blogger.

The Corsair said...

I promise to do more even handed poltical blogging, mindful of the fact that many of my readers are Republican. That's no problem really, as I have as much beef with the Dems as Repubs.