The Central Intelligence Agency, far from supporting the War on Terror, became an obstacle to the inplementation of the policies of the United States government. At last, this situation may be corrected. In Bush v. the Beltway, Laurie Mylroie detailed the sabotage of the Bush Administration and its policies by opponents buried in the CIA and elsewhere. We have seen that effort at undermining continue more overtly and more viciously, culminating in this week's leaks against Porter Goss and his efforts at institutional reform of the Agency.
On one level this conduct may be viewed as personal animus or political infighting. But it has been designed to make it difficult for the Bush Administration to articulate coherently its justification for the war in Iraq, and even to fight it .
On its own, and without notifying the White House it was doing so, the CIA sent former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate a report of yellowcake sales to Iraq. He was a man with no experience in WMD, and he returned with only an oral report, not conveyed to the White House in a timely fashion. When he sprang his counterclaim to the Bush assertion that Saddam had sought to buy yellowcake in Africa, and later falsely said the Bush claim had been based on forged documents (the French forged documents, as it turns out, but they were not the basis for the claims of the Administration), the White House was caught off guard. In response to Robert Novak's question about the choice of Wilson for this task, Administration officials replied that Wilson had been selected at his wife's suggestion. Someone, probably at the CIA, told Novak that Plame was an agent. Who revealed this secret information and why is unknown. Incredibly, instead of an internal inquiry into the outing of one of its agents, the CIA director asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether there had been a leak at the White House, an investigation still ongoing, and one which —— as Novak's own article suggests —— will point right back at the very agency which made the request in the first place. In the meantime, Wilson became the Bush critic de jour, at least until the 9/11 Commission discredited him. Welcomed at the height of the flap to the warm bosom of the Kerry camp, he was then scrubbed from its web page and consigned to a well—deserved oblivion, at least among those who saw the few press notices of his disgrace.
Equally breathtaking was the erstwhile grant to "Anonymous", a CIA analyst, permission to publish his policy critique of the Administration, Imperial Hubris. Hubris, indeed has its limits, however, When he tried to lend the public his scathing views of the Agency's policies and practices, that permission was withheld and he left.
Beneath these obvious perfidies was a great deal that was slightly less obvious: the daily press reports attacking or questioning the Bush Administration, based on information leaked from the CIA. Readers who approached these stories as objects of study noted the fact that behind virtually every damaging tale was an "anonymous CIA official" —— from the preposterous claim that Ahmed Chalabi was spying for Iran to some of the disastrous predicted post—war situations in Iraq, these stories found their way to the nation's front pages and evening news broadcasts.
Aside from the intended political damage to President Bush, these leaks had a much more serious effect: they made it difficult for his administration to articulate publicly its reasons for invading Iraq, and to properly engage the enemy. Virtually every time the Administration mentioned an Iraqi link to al Qaeda or to 9/11, Agency saboteurs would leak contrary information (and there always is some — that is the nature of intelligence work).
The most easily demonstrated case involves 9/11 ring leader Mohammed Atta's trip to Prague to meet with an Iraqi intelligence agent prior to 9/11. The Czechs insist this meeting took place. No one can place Atta anywhere else at that time. When the 9/11 Commission considered this —— in passing —— someone in the CIA conveyed to it the information that calls from Atta's cell phone showed he was in Florida at the time. Of course, it was far from impossible for him to have left the phone in Florida and for someone else to have used it. But we are talking about an Agency which missed altogether the Libyan nuclear program, assured the President that finding WMDs was a "slam dunk", and thought that Saddam was hidden in a non—existent bunker at the onset of the war.
The major media reported the CIA—provided information as fact, neglecting altogether the more credible Tenet and Cheney testimony that we don't know if he was in Prague at that date or not. Frankly, the evidence that he was is stronger than the claim that he wasn't.
Even more significantly, there has been an ongoing under—the—table dispute about the very nature of the continuing war in Iraq. Centcom's view is that the major force in the resistence is Baathists (Former Regime Elements). This is consistent with the view Laurie Mylroie set forth in The War Against America, in which she noted that both the 1993 WTC bombing and 9/11 were masterminded by a handful of men which the CIA contended was actually a family, and which she argues more credibly are really irreligious Sunnis with ties to Saddam and his intelligence service. The CIA believes the FRE's play a less significant role and the jihadis a bigger one. And which side of the debate you take informs how, and if, you think you can destroy the enemy. (Reports following Falluja place the foreign jihadis at only about 5% of the insurgent fighting force, by the way.)
Some of the CIA's efforts to undermine the Administration may well be damnable, and merely partisan in motivation. Its most treacherous acts, however, can only be understood as an effort to hide the basic mistake which has guided its entire approach to the War on Terror —— the mistaken Clinton era notion that acts of war against us were not state—sponsored, but the work of amorphous religious fanatics, impossible to defend against except after the fact, in a law enforcement mode.
Whatever the motivation, the Agency once called 'the nation's most secret service" has morphed into our overt disservice. Porter Goss must be supported in his effort to turn it around. Victory on the War on Terror depends on his success.