November 18, 2004


Goss aims to rein in the rogues (ROBERT NOVAK, November 18, 2004, Chicago SUN-TIMES)

After President Bush nominated him to be director of Central Intelligence, Rep. Porter Goss walked across the Capitol to meet with a senator he hardly knew and who had criticized him: John McCain. There he received advice confirming his determination to take a course that soon became the talk of Washington.

McCain told Goss the CIA is ''a dysfunctional organization. It has to be cleaned out.'' That is, the CIA does not perform its missions. McCain told Goss that as director, he must get rid of the old boys and bring in a new team at Langley. Moreover, McCain told me this week, ''with CIA leaks intended to harm the re-election campaign of the president of the United States, it is not only dysfunctional but a rogue organization.''

Following a mandate from the president for what McCain advised, Goss is cleaning house. [...]

Traditional bipartisanship in intelligence has been the victim, with Democrats cheering the CIA Bush-bashing. Rep. Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, abandoned pretense of bipartisanship, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Senate committee's vice chairman, never pretended. Both are attacking former colleague Goss.

McCain's use of the word ''rogue'' carries historical implications. A long, debilitating time of troubles began for the CIA in 1975 after Sen. Frank Church called it ''a rogue elephant'' that is out of control causing trouble around the world. The current use of the word refers to the intelligence agency playing domestic politics, which is an even more disturbing aberration.

The press has built Senator McCain into such a mythic hero that when he disagrees with them they're left completely flummoxed. His forceful backing of Goss's house-cleaning is an especially delicious instance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2004 10:54 AM

McCain gets a lot of flak from conservatives. Some of it he deserves, some he doesn't. But he truly does want the government to perform it's tasks competently, and he does believe that some things are more important than winning the next election.

Posted by: Brandon at November 18, 2004 11:08 AM


He did himself much damage to the Right by trying to curry favor with the press on issues like abortion in 2000.

Posted by: oj at November 18, 2004 11:11 AM

But I think he now recognizes that Bush's Core is more popular than he is, so if he wants to get the '08 nomination, he needs to support the party & president, not just be a gadfly.

And in situations like this, he's proving himself to be quite helpful, for the reasons OJ noted.

Posted by: Timothy at November 18, 2004 11:18 AM

I suspect that his loyalty will be repaid. If he wants the nomination in 2008, I expect that he'll get it.

Posted by: John Thacker at November 18, 2004 11:19 AM

He needs to eat humble pie on CFR and toss it overboard for a much simpler system.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 18, 2004 11:20 AM

Moynihan was the earlier, more vocal critic of the CIA's work, and despite his party affiliation he was already trashed by the left for his "benign neglect" and "defining deviancy down" remarks, let alone for serving at the U.N. under Republicans. So if McCain becomes too GOP-orthodox for their tastes, they'll turn on a dime and trash him as well in the long run, though for now his CIA comments are a little discombobulating for them to process easily.

Posted by: John at November 18, 2004 11:36 AM

When will Krugman mention the Keating Five?

Posted by: Brian (MN) at November 18, 2004 11:41 AM

McCain is doing the right thing. His voice alone will give Porter Goss all the cover he needs on Capitol Hill.

I would have thought better of Jane Harman - however, Jay Rockefeller is nothing but a windbag.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 18, 2004 11:49 AM

I'm still not sure that McCain is running in '08 - he'll be in his 70s. Perhaps his recent support for Bush reflects the election results and/or that he isn't running. Or perhaps because there are some cabinet posts opening up.

One thing McCain has been good at is targetting govt waste. Bush should have McCain head a commission to reduce govt waste/spending and then actually follow-through on it.

Posted by: AWW at November 18, 2004 12:25 PM

Just when I'm convinced that Senator McCain is showing all the signs of having The Stockholm Syndrome, he does something like this.

He's got not only the Left flummoxed.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at November 18, 2004 12:29 PM


He needs to eat humble pie on CFR and toss it overboard for a much simpler system.

How about we just go back to the First Amendment? That seems simple enough to me.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at November 18, 2004 12:53 PM

CFR is a real problem. I'd simply go to a system of full disclosure, where you could spend as much as you want and you could raise as much as you want and you can say as much as you want, but you have to disclose the names and addresses of your contributors. Corporations and charities and tax-exempts would not be able to contribute because they are not persons. Issue groups would have the same disclosure obligation.

Posted by: Bart at November 18, 2004 1:12 PM


What's the difference between an issue group and the NYT?

Posted by: mike earl at November 18, 2004 1:31 PM

The press will fight to the death to keep their 'special' status under campaign finance laws.

Something needs to change in the relationship between the press and politicians. Perhaps it is time for WRNC and WDNC and a host of other 'political' networks to set up shop and take cover under the media umbrella.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 18, 2004 1:37 PM


The New York Times is a for-profit entity, and has a masthead.

Posted by: Bart at November 18, 2004 2:04 PM

McCain would make a nice VP for Condi.

Posted by: Mike Morley at November 18, 2004 4:07 PM

I agree with Bart with the simple exception that a candidate can list as many donations as he wants without names. The voters should declne to vote for a candidate with too many anonymous donations. However, any money received but not reported is a serious offense resulting in jail time.

Posted by: bbb at November 19, 2004 1:20 PM