Monday, April 4, 2005

Robert Parry on CIA 'Reform'

This is too much coincidence to be coincidence ... so I had better lay it all on the table now and avoid any fuss later: I'm partially in synch with Robert Parry. By this I mean: Sometimes when I visit his site I find that his most recent column pertains to something about which I have written recently. How bizarre is that? I hope none of my readers are conspiracy theorists because they might start to get ideas.

I said "partially in synch" because sometimes when I visit Robert Parry's site I find that his most recent column pertains to subjects I have never even touched. So I could never say Robert Parry and I were fully in synch -- unless I had less respect for the truth than ... [oh stop me!]

But having said that, I've merely established a foundation for the following observation: Robert Parry clearly knows a heck of a lot more than this lowly and nearly frozen winter patriot, and I think he writes a lot better than I do, too ... so I've been thinking ... of asking him to take over my blog!

Just kidding, of course. He'd probably refuse anyway. Probably.

Just three days ago I was writing about [or at least thinking of writing about] the so-called reform that is being [or has been] imposed on the C.I.A. and I quoted Maureen Dowd, light-heartedly.

Two days later, here comes Robert Parry, writing about the same subject but in a slightly different mood:
If the American people want to prevent another intelligence failure like the one that has sent more than 1,500 U.S. soldiers to die in Iraq, it will take more than just shaking up the CIA. Much of Washington’s political and media elites would need to be sacked as well.

Indeed, it is a sign of how deep the problem goes that neoconservative Republican Laurence Silberman chaired a presidential commission evaluating the CIA’s failures, since he also oversaw the Reagan-Bush intelligence transition team in 1980 that struck one of the first blows against the intellectual integrity of the CIA’s analytical division. [See below]

The commission’s co-chairman, former Sen. Charles Robb, represents another part of the problem: the go-along-to-get-along Democrats who did little to stop the Reagan-Bush-era politicization of U.S. intelligence.

But the crisis goes deeper still. The Silberman-Robb report, which faults the CIA for providing “dead wrong” intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, was delivered to George W. Bush, who has built his presidency on an unprecedented use of pseudo-facts over a wide range of issues, from the federal budget to global warming to the Iraq War.

Bush’s contempt for information that went against his preconceived notions was the chief warning from Bush’s first Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill as recounted to author Ron Suskind in the 2004 book, The Price of Loyalty.

O’Neill, who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations and later ran Alcoa, was startled to find Bush setting policies that “were impenetrable by facts” and based on little more than his ideological certainties. O’Neill also said the Bush administration had been planning a war with Iraq since Bush’s first days in office.
Here's one of the things I like most about Robert Parry: if I had written the paragraphs I've just quoted, I'd have thought I was finished. Robert Parry just keeps on going.

In this column, there's a history lesson, a closer look at the present situation, and even a glimpse of a possible future. I think you should read the whole article but I am afraid you won't ... so I'll give you one more excerpt and hope it entices you to click here:
[E]ven as the death toll of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis mounted, there was almost no accountability in Washington. That was, in large part, because almost the entire political-media establishment had been wrong.


In the end, virtually no one was punished for leading the nation into the disastrous war. Bush got his second term; Tenet resigned but got the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the pro-war TV commentators and WMD-believing journalists kept their jobs, too.

Since then, the major recommendations for change have centered on structural reform within the intelligence community. Congress created a National Intelligence Director, who supposedly will work closely with the president in overseeing the intelligence community.

But adding just another box to the organizational chart doesn’t address what appears to be the core problem: the politicization of the U.S. intelligence product over the past quarter century, while honest intelligence analysts were driven out of the CIA. The problem is cultural, systemic, even ethical – not structural.
Irony these days comes from Washington in big batches, and it might not take a lowly and nearly frozen cynic to mention that the structural change being performed -- in Robert Parry's words "to put the intelligence product more directly under Bush’s control" -- is exactly the opposite of what should be happening. How unusual is that?

There are some writers whom I can summarize for you and others whom I can quote effectively enough to save you a mouse-click and maybe even a few minutes. Robert Parry is not one of them. Not even close. Please read the whole article for yourself.