Sunday, November 14, 2004

A "Purge" at the CIA?

Over the course of the last few years it has become apparent that there are employess at the CIA for whom partisanship has become a motivating factor in leaking to the press information that could be viewed as critical or damaging to the Bush Administration. In fact, the CIA authorized an employee to publish two books critical of the Bush Administration. The books were published under "Anonymous", because the author was still an employee of the agency. The athor has since been revealed to be Michael Scheuer, an analyst.

Yesterday in the New York Times, David Brooks wrote an op-ed on this very issue. An excerpt:

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.

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.

The White House-C.I.A. relationship became dysfunctional, and while the blame was certainly not all on one side, Langley was engaged in slow-motion, brazen insubordination, which violated all standards of honorable public service. It was also incredibly stupid, since C.I.A. officials were betting their agency on a Kerry victory.

As the presidential race heated up, the C.I.A. permitted an analyst - who, we now know, is Michael Scheuer - to publish anonymously a book called "Imperial Hubris," which criticized the Iraq war. Here was an official on the president's payroll publicly campaigning against his boss. As Scheuer told The Washington Post this week, "As long as the book was being used to bash the president, they [the C.I.A. honchos] gave me carte blanche to talk to the media."

As should be expected, the "slow-motion, brazen insubordination" has been noted by the White House. Newsday reported today that the President has ordered the new CIA chief, Porter Goss, to "purge" the agency of any employees who have proven to be disloyal to the President for partisan reasons, or who have leaked classified information to the media.

If this article is true, the public should be glad that the purge is happening. The employess of the CIA are charged with protecting the citizens of the United States. It seems fairly clear that if employees actions are guided by personal, partisan politics, they would not be able to perform their task as effectively as possible. In a time when the United States is confronting the possibility that a terrorist group could smuggle a nuclear weapon into the country for the purpose of destroying a city, there is no room for petty politics. If the Presdient deems that a purge is necessary to make the CIA a more effective agency, then purge he should. Leaks to the media could easily threaten the security of the country. It seems that some in the this country's leading intelligence agency have forgotten the old mantra, "Loose Lips Sink Ships".

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.