Reprinted from consortiumnews.com
The original idea of the CIA was to have independent-minded experts assessing both short- and longer-term threats to U.S. national security. Mixing with operations and politics was always a danger, which is now highlighted by CIA Director Brennan's reorganization, opposed by a group of U.S. intelligence veterans.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: John Brennan's Restructuring Plan for CIA
Mr. President, the CIA reorganization plan announced by Director John Brennan on Friday is a potentially deadly blow to the objective, fact-based intelligence needed to support fully informed decisions on foreign policy. We suggest turning this danger into an opportunity to create an independent entity for CIA intelligence analysis immune from the operational demands of the "war on terror."
On Feb. 5, 2003, immediately after Colin Powell's address to the UN, members of VIPS sent our first VIPS memorandum, urging President George W. Bush to widen the policy debate "beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic."
The "former senior officers" whom Brennan asked for input on the restructuring plan are a similar closed, blinkered circle, as is the "outstanding group of officers from across the Agency" picked by Brennan to look at the Agency's mission and future. He did not include any of the intelligence community dissidents and alumni who fought against the disastrous politicization of intelligence before the attack on Iraq. Nor does Brennan's plan reflect the lessons learned from that debacle.
You have continued to express confidence in Brennan despite the CIA's mediocre record under his leadership. We urge you to weigh Brennan's plan against the backdrop of Harry Truman's prophetic vision for the CIA. We need to stop wasting time and energy trying to prevent the baby Truman never wanted from being thrown out with the bathwater. Let the bathwater run off, with the baby high and dry.
An independent group for intelligence analysis would be free to produce for you and your National Security Council the medium- and long-term strategic intelligence analysis that can help our country steer clear of future strategic disasters. And we offer ourselves as advisers as to how this might be accomplished.
Our concern over what we see as the likely consequences stemming from what Brennan intends, together with our many years of experience in intelligence work, have prompted this memo, which we believe can profit from some historical perspective.
President Harry Truman wanted an agency structure able to meet a president's need for "the most accurate " information on what's going on everywhere in the world, and particularly of the trends and developments in all the danger spots." In an op-ed appearing in the Washington Post exactly one month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Truman added, "I have been disturbed by " the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment " and has become an operational and at times policy-making arm of the Government."
Truman added that the "most important thing" was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or lead the President into unwise decisions. His warning is equally relevant now -- 52 years later.
Bay of Pigs
Truman was referring to how CIA Director Allen Dulles tried to mousetrap President Kennedy into committing U.S. armed forces to finish what a rag-tag band of CIA-trained invaders of Cuba began by landing at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, a few months before you were born. Kennedy had repeatedly warned the CIA brass and covert action planners that under no circumstances would he commit U.S. forces. But they were old hands; they knew better; they thought the young President could be had.