Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Wall Street Journal on the Hayden Nomination to Head the CIA

I'm posting The Wall Street Journal's lead editorial in today's paper on President Bush's nomination of Michael Hayden as Director of Central Intellegence. The early high-level opposition to the pick does not bode well for confirmation. Here's some flavor from WSJ:

The teeth-gnashing about yesterday's nomination of General Hayden to replace Mr. Goss is mostly misplaced. When it comes to the CIA, there is much to worry about, but the four stars on the nominee's shoulders are pretty low on the list. General Hayden has been out of the Pentagon since 1999, first running the National Security Agency and lately as Deputy Director of National Intelligence, meaning essentially at the White House. The idea that he'd be Don Rumsfeld's robot at this remove is preposterous. Next up from the bottom has to be General Hayden's creation and running of the NSA's warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists. For this he deserves not criticism but a national medal. It removes any doubt he recognizes the reality of the current threat. Arlen Specter's preening notwithstanding, Republicans should welcome the chance to let Senate Democrats prove themselves soft on terror in front of the nation.
WSJ points out that if Hayden -- who is currently John Negroponte's top assistant at the Directorate of National Intelligence -- is appointed to the top CIA post, the intelligence-gathering system would resemble the organizational structure of the intelligence bureaucracy before the round of 2004 reforms. If so, what was the purpose of the restructuring in the first place? Perhaps Bush's move might be the initial attempt to realign the clandestine services toward (re)building its human intelligence assets, and thus restoring the fundamental and vital espionage mission that was supposed to serve as the core of the agency's work through much of the post-WWII period. WSJ notes that one recent success within the clandestine services was the agency's deal that led to Libya's dismanting of its nuclear program.

The CIA's apparently deep structural problems date from well before Porter Goss took over the top job less than 18 months ago. WSJ notes that the the agency is now at a historical turning point, and it "remains to be seen whether the members of the Senate or the permanent CIA establishment are able to recognize that, or whether the Hayden nomination will strike them as another chance to revisit the political score-settling that has put U.S. intelligence-gathering dangerously behind the curve of history."

3 comments:

Gary said...

Actually, the fact of the matter is that the CIA, a predominantly civilian, academic agency, has not made any big mistakes in the past six years plus. The past two directors of the agency are culpable in propagating false intel, but the agency as a whole has continuously done its job well within the 'troops in the field'.

I suggest, instead of reading what the main stream media, and pundits write, try reading some official sources, and first hand accounts in magazines, books.

Examples:

The CIA had specific intel, from multiple sources and governments, warning of terrorists attacks on this country prior to 9-11. This is well documented in numerous books, from Richard Clark, Parry, the 9-11 commission report, etc... Many European, and the Israeli intel agencies also warned our government.

You may have watched Condi Rice et al on CSPAN during the public hearings right after 9-11. Condi testified that she had heard of Al Quieda, but denied receiving any specific threats. This of course wasnt true. At that time, the intel wasnt declassified, so, she could not answer the question honestly, and the Commissioners , as well as all members of government knew this detail. After the hearings, and just prior to the 9-11 Commission Report was published, many documents were declassified, among them, one entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike US" and " OBL plans hijacked planes to hit US monuments". These are available online now for all to read.

One great online resource which may help you in your search for truth, is called the National Security Archives, an online site devoted to posting important declassified documents thru the Freedom of Information Act. It is maintained by a staff at George Washington University.

Example 2 Iraq, prior to the US invasion, did not have a nuclear program, did not seek to buy yellow cake uranium from Nigeria, and had no means to process such things. The CIA had a preponderance of intel on Iraq, with many professional analysts for the past decades studying the situation there. After Bush's state of the union address that year, many people within the CIA were confounded at the Presidents claims, and within the agency, many expressed to George Tenet that they disagreed with the Presidents assertions. Much of this is public information now, and the source of the ongoing Fitzgerald investigation. There are also books written by former CIA analysts whom have recently retired, detailing these ideas.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks for the comment...I'm pretty familiar with example one, though isn't the bigger issue as far as WSJ goes the decline of HUMINT capabilities? Certainly CIA recommendations have to be acted upon, so Secretary Rice had good reason to be squeaming up there before the 9/11 panel. On example two, I'd have to do some fact checking, but my hunch is your point's not completely accurate. Centrifuge components were found buried in Iraqi scientists' backyards after Hussein was toppled; most of the Western intelligence agencies had similar data on Iraq's procurement program, etc. I haven't read it mind you, but check out Mahdi Obeidi's "The Bomb in My Garden: The Secret of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind" (2004). If course, I'd like to read all the official sources you mention...so many books, so little time...

Meatball One said...

Goss and Hayden are leak stoppers. Stoppers of leaks related to the pretexting of the Iraq war. Haven't any of you worked in the clandenstine services? You should give it a try. There's lots of fun to be had for able young boys and girls. It builds character and helps develop the innate but repressed ability of most to cut through BS.