Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The Bush Administration is clearly trying to set up the CIA to take the fall for the problem they have over being caught lying about the reasons for the attack on Iraq. Condoleezza Rice made this perfectly clear on Sunday when she said that Bush "gets his intelligence from his director of central intelligence, who runs a disciplined process that takes into account the views of the different intelligence agencies." Other Presidents who have tried to mess with the CIA (Kennedy, Carter) have found it to be a dangerous game, and the CIA has begun to retaliate by releasing information (or here) that supposedly shows that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. This is a direct shot at the Bush Administration, who have consistently relied on this connection in the face of all evidence to the contrary, presumably as it is the only way to connect Saddam to 9-11. The CIA's information is based on the interrogations of two al Qaeda members who are said to be in American custody, although, since one of them is supposed to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, I have to question the source of this information. In any event, the timely release is obviously a 'shot accross the bow' to ensure that the Bush Administration backs off on its passing the blame onto the CIA. It is interesting that Tony Blair tried the same trick of blaming his intelligence agencies, but then backtracked and sent over an apology for the 'dodgy dossier' which mixed good MI6 intelligence with the Chalabi crap that Blair got from Bush, presumably after Blair was told what secrets would be released if he didn't back down. The CIA is being squeezed in all directions:

  1. It is being blamed, expressly or implicitly, for misleading the Bush Administration about the weapons of mass destruction. This must be particularly hard to take as it appears that the CIA actually tried to argue against the credibility of the evidence for such weapons produced by Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress pals (it is interesting that the CIA avoided manufacturing false intelligence for the attack on Iraq because it rightly didn't trust Chalabi, and it didn't get heavily involved in Iran-Contra because it rightly didn't trust Manucher Ghorbanifar; I'm working on a post on what Iran-Contra can teach us about 9-11). The CIA is responsible for the 'aluminum tubes' story, and has some still obscure role in the forgery of the Niger nuclear documents, but appears to have had no part in the Chalabi lies of WMD.

  2. It is being squeezed out of intelligence gathering, which it frankly isn't much good at, by Rumsfeld's use of jokers like Chalabi to provide an end run of intelligence that suits Rumsfeld's purposes.

  3. It is clearly being squeezed out of intelligence analysis by Rumsfeld's new Pentagon intelligence agencies, custom-made to provide the 'right' answer.

  4. It is gradually being squeezed out of the 'dirty tricks' operations, much of which was invented by the CIA, by Rumsfeld's increasing reliance on Pentagon Special Operations forces (Rumsfeld's new army chief of staff used to head Special Operations forces, which is probably an indication of future developments). The Pentagon and the CIA used to have understandings about who controlled what turf in unconventional warfare, but under the Bush Administration the Pentagon is clearly dominant.

  5. After September 11, it lost a lot of ground in the investigation of terrorism outside of the United States to the FBI, which is why you hear so often about FBI agents wandering around Pakistan (or course, it should be restricted from investigating terrorism inside the United States; some feel that the infamous Israeli art students were being used by the Mossad on behalf of the CIA to do intelligence work in the U. S. that the CIA wasn't allowed to do itself).

  6. It has essentially lost its statutory role as a central intelligence agency, responsible for funnelling all intelligence to the Administration.

This will eventually leave the CIA limited to what it remains good at: 1) the odd assassination of the duly elected leader of a foreign country; and 2) dealing illegal drugs. It is hard to believe, but American politics has shifted so far right so quickly that the old gold standard of psychopathic bloodthirsty monsters exemplified by the CIA of the 70's and 80's is now regarded by the Rumsfeld's of the world as irreparably soft, liberal, and old-fashioned. The namby-pamby pinko East Coast Establishment CIA is no longer sufficiently insane to do the types of things required by the Bushites. Unless the CIA starts leaking some information fast it may quickly fade into quiet irrelevance. To start with, it should leak the CIA report given to Bush at Crawford in early August 2001 - the one which warned of specific imminent threats against American targets by hijacked commercial airplanes used as missiles (the report which explicitly warned against what Condoleezza Rice later said was impossible for anyone to anticipate). That ought to put them back in the game.