June 11, 2006

SALT THE GROUND AT LANGLEY:

LOOK, MOM: WE BEAT THE CIA (DEREK LEEBAERT, June 11, 2006, NY Post)

[T]he CIA led the covert effort in Somalia. Indeed, both the military and the Foreign Service were reportedly "largely shut out" of the enterprise - which is certainly the agency's preferred way of doing business, despite the method's abysmal track record. (The shutout of military special-op forces is particularly reminiscent of the CIA's feckless anti-terrorist efforts of the 1990s.)

GOING it virtually alone in Somalia, that chronically lawless state on the Horn of Africa, might have made sense if the CIA were merely collecting intelligence. But it was attempting much more - namely, to leave secular warlords in control of Mogadishu. The "blowback" (as the spy world calls regrettable unintended consequences) from the CIA's failure is that our proxies have been routed by invigorated militias who know full well that the American hand opposed them. They already shelter a handful of al Qaeda's would-be martyrs; we've given them no reason to stop, and good reason to build even closer ties with the bin Laden group.

All in all, the agency proved it knew little about Somalia's bloody political kaleidoscope, and had even less ability to manipulate it. But don't expect it to express any regrets about refusing advice from State Department experts on the region, for the CIA rarely learns from such reversals. [...]

The CIA...has a culture long resistant to outside expertise - and now contemptuous of the Pentagon's new role in covert paramilitary tasks, for which Langley had exclusive responsibility before 9/11.

The CIA's traditional insularity is compounded by a refusal to learn from or even to acknowledge mistakes, a habit that grew over decades of unaccountability in the dark. Deciding to "shut out" whatever know-how it could have obtained from State or Defense in Somalia is just the latest example of what is wrong with the CIA it tries to hold onto tasks that it has performed dreadfully for 60 years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 11, 2006 12:28 PM
Comments

What's funny is the number of people who understand that the CIA is unredemable corrupt who want to give the INS more power and less oversight.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 11, 2006 4:10 PM

The most we can hope for is that staffing will level off and they relegated to meaningless tasks, like countless New Deal bureaucracies all over town.

Posted by: curt at June 11, 2006 4:45 PM

The kossaks are calling this a cold-blooded political assination!

Posted by: Jayson at June 11, 2006 10:00 PM

The failure to reform the CIA is probably the biggest failure of the Bush administration. It was a well documented problem before 9/11 - there is no excuse why a major overhaul was not done.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at June 12, 2006 1:46 PM

Chris:

Sure there is. The Agency, Democrats and the press used Valerie Plame to prevent it.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 2:58 PM
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