November 19, 2004


The purge at CIA (H.D.S. Greenway, November 19, 2004, Boston Globe)

PORTER GOSS, President Bush's new director of central intelligence, has told his staff that their job is to "support the administration and its policies" and cautioned them not to "identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration." OK, the Central Intelligence Agency is part of the executive branch of government, and it goes without saying that it should support its foreign policy goals.

But wait a minute. CIA, of all the branches of executive power, is not paid simply to charge ahead blindly in the direction the administration points like the Light Brigade at Balaclava: "Theirs not to make reply/ Theirs not to reason why/ Theirs but to do and die." The CIA's job is to use its head and advise, not just blind obedience.

The CIA has been hemorrhaging top-level personnel. Some of the best-trained and senior officers are being forced out. For weeks the administration has been whispering to any journalist within earshot how CIA has not been sufficiently on the president's team, abetted by Senator John McCain's calling CIA a "rogue agency" that leaked information detrimental to Bush's reelection -- "dysfunctional and unaccountable" -- and refusing to change.

There certainly were intelligence failures in the lead-up to 9/11 and the Iraq war. And you can say at any given time and in any given year that someone needs to clean up the mess at CIA. It's like the mess in Washington. There always is one. Goss did go on to say in his memo to the staff that CIA should "provide intelligence as we see it -- and let the facts alone speak to the policymaker." And, on the whole, a good shake-up of any organization helps from time to time.


Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2004 10:07 AM

Mr./Ms. Greenway:

A "mess at the CIA" can be a lot more dangerous to Americans than "..the mess in Washington. There always is one."

Mr. Goss: More. And, faster please.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at November 19, 2004 12:29 PM

The CIA is supposed to keep its mouth shut about what it does. Maybe, just maybe, they should be reminded of that. And reminded that the people's elected representatives set policy, not them.

Posted by: Mikey at November 19, 2004 1:55 PM

End it don't mend it!

Posted by: Bart at November 19, 2004 5:23 PM

It's pretty rich to see the Left, which once upon a time was pillorying the CIA as the evil architect and executioner of the National Security State, now posing as its great defender. But then, of course, the CIA is fighting Bushitler, so that covers a multitude of past sins.

Posted by: Joe at November 20, 2004 10:38 AM