Friday, May 12, 2006

Daniel Henninger Condemns the CIA Leaker's Collapse of Shared National Purpose

Daniel Henninger, in this week's "Wonderland" column at The Wall Street Journal, denounces the recent CIA leaks confirming wiretaps and other elements of the government's strategy in the ongoing terror war. The leaks illustrate the degree to which major actors within the governmment have lost any sense of fundamental common vision on the ideological threats to the U.S., such as the unifying, strident anti-communism that animated security planning during the Cold War. Says Henninger:

We used to live in simpler times. From 1950 to 1991, America's enemy took the form of a country with hundreds of ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads aimed at the U.S. mainland, and a global espionage force called the KGB with a single address, Moscow. This was the Cold War, and in those days the U.S. intelligence community had a common worldview. That ideology was laid out in the now-famous National Security Council document 68, delivered in April 1950 to President Harry Truman. The Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb the previous August.

NSC-68's first page--"Background of the Current Crisis"--describes a Soviet Union that is "animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world." NSC-68's chapter headings were not about mere policy but the basics, describing "The Fundamental Purpose of the United States" and "The Underlying Conflict in the Realm of Ideas and Values Between the U.S. Purpose and the Kremlin Design."

Who could disagree? Well, many did--ceaselessly outside the government, mostly in academic centers and policy journals. It was a lively, titanic debate. But not inside the government, or at least nothing that compares to what has been leaking out about the war on terror. The most serious bureaucratic disputes within the government's Cold War intelligence agencies involved disagreements over arms-reduction proposals in the SALT talks and the like. But there was no serious disagreement with the ideology or threat described in NSC-68.
According to Henninger, this oppositional ideology within the agency is likely to be the main hurdle to CIA institutional inform should General Hayden take over:

If confirmed, Gen. Michael Hayden's biggest problem at the CIA will be that some of his employees are the products of a culture that no longer understands or respects the sense of purpose, discipline and honor of the best Cold Warriors, who understood that the government is an elected hierarchy of constitutional responsibility and not a faculty senate free to undermine mere presidents. He will have to make clear that any official who finds internal dissent procedures inadequate to his or her "moral obligation" to overturn strategic doctrine, affect election outcomes or destroy an intelligence operation should get out or be willing to risk criminal prosecution. And it would help this country's sense of purpose if he made that clear not only to the CIA but in public to the American people.

While I'm on the topic, check out this open comment thread on the CIA at Daniel Drezner's blog. Thanks go to Drezner for the link to this article on the "Anatomy of a Turf War for the CIA."

1 comment:

Howard Stein said...

What is National purpose?

Or should we ask: Whose national purpose?

Or do we all sit in the same boat, sharing the same defining interests?