Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 2 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/7/09

Another Bush Intelligence Failure

By       (Page 2 of 2 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.
(# of views)   5 comments
Author 1553
Message Robert Parry
Become a Fan
  (84 fans)
The IG also concluded that the DNI spends too much time briefing the President rather than managing the intelligence bureaucracy--and that officials inside the DNI still grapple with what their role is supposed to be.

Also implicit in the report is vindication for critics of the 9/11 Commission who questioned whether the creation of the new DNI post--as the commission recommended--would do much to address the politicization of the U.S. intelligence community, which lost its old commitment to objective analysis under the ideological and political pressures of the 1980s and 1990s.

In earlier days, the U.S. intelligence ethos was to provide objective information to the policymakers with "the bark on." However, during Ronald Reagan's presidency--and especially under the reign of CIA Director Bill Casey and his deputy Robert Gates--that traditional ethos was broken down, replaced by a more compliant, finger-to-the-wind style of analysis.

For instance, when the Reagan administration wanted to justify major increases in military spending in the 1980s, Casey and Gates purged the CIA's Moscow specialists who were detecting dramatic signs of Soviet decline and promoted more malleable analysts who were willing to issue alarmist projections about Soviet capabilities and intent.

The politicization worked so well that the CIA's Soviet division largely "missed" the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

A New Culture

In 1993, when President Bill Clinton ignored this cultural change at the CIA--indeed he deepened it by treating the CIA directorship as something of a patronage plum to be awarded to Democratic neoconservatives who wanted the job for their favorite James Woolsey--the Casey-Gates politicization became institutionalized.

So, it was not surprising that when Clinton left office in 2001, George W. Bush inherited as CIA director George Tenet, a back-slapping former congressional aide who had risen through the ranks on Capitol Hill by serving the needs of his political mentors.

Though Tenet did press on President Bush the growing threat from al-Qaeda--especially in the President's Daily Brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US"--the CIA director also was careful not to wear out his welcome by confronting Bush too directly.

After failing to thwart the 9/11 attacks, Tenet was so thankful to Bush for not firing him that Tenet helpfully promoted false and dubious intelligence to justify Bush's desire to invade Iraq, famously telling Bush that the Iraq-WMD case was a "slam dunk."

Despite these two intelligence disasters, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission operated within its own narrow concept of what was politically acceptable, meaning that it couldn't very easily decry the politicization that Ronald Reagan molded and Bill Clinton hardened.

Instead, the commission recommended putting a new bureaucratic box on top of the old flow chart. After all, addressing an institutional culture--in this case, politicization--is much tougher. It would have required rehabilitating many old CIA hands who refused to go with the flow and removing the younger generation which had learned how to play ball.

So, the post of DNI was born, essentially replacing the CIA director as the head of the U.S. intelligence community. But the quality of U.S. intelligence will improve only if analysts are committed to telling the truth rather than saying what politicians want to hear.

And the first major attempt by President Obama's DNI, Dennis Blair, to select a top analyst who didn't fear speaking truth to power ended up with that choice, former U.S. Ambassador Charles "Chas" Freeman, effectively being blackballed by the Israel Lobby and its many supporters in the Washington press corps and on Capitol Hill.

However, as the inspector general's report makes clear, the U.S. intelligence community needs more than just a bureaucratic reshuffling--or reliance on dubious Bush-Cheney methods--to protect the nation. There must be a serious commitment to doing the job right.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Rate It | View Ratings

Robert Parry Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
(more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter

What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?

Ron Paul's Appalling World View

Ronald Reagan: Worst President Ever?

The Disappearance of Keith Olbermann

A Perjurer on the US Supreme Court

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: