By Ray McGovern, Issues and Alibis
After the CIA-led fiasco at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, President John Kennedy was quoted as saying he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds." I can understand his anger, but a thousand is probably too many.
Better is a Solomon solution; divide the CIA in two. That way we can throw out the bath water and keep the baby.
Covert action and analysis do not belong together in the same agency - never have, never will. That these two very different tasks were thrown together is an accident of history, one that it is high time to acknowledge and to fix.
The effects of this structural fault became clear to President Harry Truman as he watched the agency at work in its first decade and a half. He was aghast.
Like oil on water, covert action fouls the wellspring of objective analysis - the main task for which Truman and the Congress established the CIA in 1947. The operational tail started wagging the substantive tail almost right away. It has done so ever since - with very unfortunate consequences.
An accident of history? How so?
Covert action practitioners, many of whom showed great courage and imagination in the European and Far Eastern theaters of World War II arrived home wondering whether there was still a call for their expertise.
With the Soviet Union taking over large chunks of Europe and the KGB plying its covert-action wares worldwide, the question answered itself; a counter capability was needed.
The big mistake was shoehorning it into an agency being created to fulfill an entirely different mission. As former CIA analyst Mel Goodman points out in Failure of Intelligence, there was uncertainty and confusion over where to place responsibility for this capability.
No NIE on Af-Pak
The proof is in the pudding. Were not Panetta a self-described "creature of the Congress" (be wise, compromise), he would have long since ordered up a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on prospects for Afghanistan AND - far more important - Pakistan.
Would you believe that at this stage there is still no such NIE?
And the reason Panetta and his managers are keeping their heads way down is the same reason former CIA Director George Tenet for years shied away from doing an NIE on whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The findings would smell like skunks at a picnic.
It was only after Sen. Bob Graham, then-Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the White House in September 2002, "No National Intelligence Estimate, no congressional vote on war with Iraq," that Tenet was ordered by the White House to commission an NIE with pre-ordained conclusions.
Tht NIE was to be completed in record time (less than three weeks), in order to emerge several weeks before the mid-term elections and it was to reflect the alarmist views expressed by Vice President Dick Cheney in a major speech on Aug. 26, 2002.
In Tenet's memoir he admits that Cheney "went well beyond what our analysis could support." But never mind; Tenet and his lieutenants had become quite accomplished in cooking intelligence to order. And so they did.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009
By Ray McGovern, Issues and Alibis
In The Know: Panelists discuss ways to care for the nation's paranoid schizophrenics, such as hiding cameras in their homes or audio transmitters in their ears.
More coverage at: http://www.onion.com
Sanda animation film - Ferenc Cakó
Vivaldi: Four Seasons Winter
conductor: Lamberto Gardelli
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