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What Became of the CIA (Clueless in Langley)
Commentary ^ | March 2005 | Gabriel Schoenfeld

Posted on 03/01/2005 2:31:03 PM PST by quidnunc

My first personal encounter with the CIA came in 1989. I was living in Washington, D.C., editing a new publication about Communist affairs under the auspices of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. There had been a spate of violence directed against the Communist authorities in Russia; I was among the first to discuss and analyze these events, publishing my findings not only in my own research bulletin but also, to wider attention, in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Shortly after my articles appeared I got a phone call from a second secretary of the Soviet embassy. He was fascinated, he told me, by what I had written, and he wanted to talk. I understood at once that a Soviet diplomat with an interest in American views of political violence in his own country would in all likelihood be a KGB officer. When we met at my office a few days later he turned out to be younger than I had expected, perhaps in his mid-thirties, with a broad smile and heavily pockmarked skin. His English was heavily accented but fluent. We had a pleasant talk for an hour. I described my findings in somewhat greater detail, and together we speculated about the future. And that seemed to be that.

Several days later I received another call, this time from someone who, explaining that he was with the CIA, said he had heard through the grapevine that I had met with a Soviet diplomat. The agency was interested in obtaining further information about him. Would I agree to get together? Despite not having much to say, I readily assented.

-snip-

(Excerpt) Read more at commentarymagazine.com ...


TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: anonymous; cia; hubris; imperial; imperialhubris; kgb; scheuer; spy

1 posted on 03/01/2005 2:31:03 PM PST by quidnunc
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To: quidnunc

Too busy trying to stay PC and afraid to stick their necks out to make decisions.

Pretty piss poor.


2 posted on 03/01/2005 2:32:49 PM PST by HMFIC (Fourth Generation American INFIDEL and PROUD OF IT!)
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To: quidnunc

"In a very real sense, the reason September eleven of '01 happened is because right behind me about five blocks the Frank Church committee hearings in the early 1970's and the Carter administration later in the 1970's largely destroyed the CIA's operations directorate." -- Tom Clancy on Kudlow and Cramer, 9/2/03

"Actually you can trace our failures in stopping global terror all the way back to Jimmy Carter and Democratic Senator Frank Church." -- Neal Boortz , 9/1/03


3 posted on 03/01/2005 2:34:58 PM PST by FreeKeys ("Carter has never met an anti-American dictator he didn't like." -- John Hinderaker)
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To: HMFIC

They didn't stick out their necks with that "it's a slam dunk" comment to Bush about Iraqi WMDs?


4 posted on 03/01/2005 2:52:22 PM PST by Yo-Yo
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To: HMFIC

Porter Goss got rid of the leftover Clinton leakers.

Just as it should be.


5 posted on 03/01/2005 2:55:25 PM PST by The Final Harvest (Pres. Bush: "Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self.")
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To: quidnunc

b


6 posted on 03/01/2005 3:22:23 PM PST by MoralSense
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To: quidnunc
Typical was the way in which the CIA pursued bin Laden in the late 1990’s. Although the agency was operating under a government-wide ban (imposed in the Reagan era) on participating in assassinations, the ban had now come to be construed by CIA higher-ups in the most stringent form imaginable. An operation had to be immediately halted, writes Mahle, if CIA lawyers “caught a whiff of anything that could be interpreted on the most liberal basis as practicing assassination, condoning assassination, or assisting indirectly in assassination.” Indeed, the agency even concluded it had a “duty to warn” individuals who were targets of assassination, leading to “absurd situations” in which it found itself firing agents it itself had hired to eliminate terrorists and alerting “its own enemies” of threats against them.

Your Federal Government at work. Heaven help us all.
7 posted on 03/01/2005 3:28:44 PM PST by Logophile
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To: All

Tenet resigned???

:-)


8 posted on 03/01/2005 3:29:15 PM PST by bugs_dallas
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To: quidnunc
Bottom line is the CIA in the 90's and even up until very recently (2003/4) had simply become risk adverse (and political too boot).

Being risk adverse in their line of business means they are simply useless -

9 posted on 03/01/2005 3:40:01 PM PST by SevenMinusOne
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To: quidnunc; HMFIC; FreeKeys; Yo-Yo; CyberAnt; MoralSense
This is worth quoting at length.
From the same article: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=11903046_1

Exhibit A: Imperial Hubris

Exhibit A in any discussion of these matters should be Imperial Hubris,1 a best-selling book by “Anonymous,” who is described on the dust jacket as “a senior U.S. intelligence official with nearly two decades of experience in national-security issues.” As became known not long after the book’s publication, “Anonymous” is Michael Scheuer, until his resignation in the fall of 2004 a member of the CIA’s senior intelligence service. Between 1996 and 1999 Scheuer was in charge of “running operations against al Qaeda.” After leaving that post, he became a high-level manager in the agency’s counterterrorism center, the perch from which he wrote his book.

Imperial Hubris is subtitled Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. This poses a loaded question from the start, since it is hardly self-evident that the West is losing the war on terror. But Scheuer is strongly convinced—and stridently insistent—that we are. Surveying U.S. counterterrorism policy in the period leading up to and following September 11, he adduces several major reasons why.

In the first place, he contends, American policymakers have failed to grasp the character of our adversaries’ enmity. Here our intellectual weakness begins with a faulty appraisal of Osama bin Laden himself. We have tended to caricature the mastermind of September 11 as a “deranged gangster,” someone “prone to and delighting in the murder of innocents,” and an “apocalyptic terrorist in search of Armageddon.” But, in reality, bin Laden is a strategically astute “practical warrior”—as well as “the most respected, loved, romantic, charismatic, and perhaps able figure in the last 150 years of Islamic history.” Far from seeking the fiery destruction of the West, he is pursuing a series of narrow and tangible objectives.

A related misconception, according to Scheuer, is that bin Laden and his fellow Islamists hate the West for what it is rather than for what it does. Not so, he maintains. Al Qaeda does not want to destroy our liberal democratic institutions, our open society, or our freewheeling way of life. Rather, it is engaged in a “defensive jihad.” Many Muslims have a “plausible perception” that the things they hold most dear—“God, Islam, their brethren, and Muslim lands”—are being “attacked by America.” We are thus not enmeshed in a clash of civilizations but in something much less grand. The “key causal factor in our confrontation with Islam” is “a few, specific U.S. policies.”

Scheuer has a short list of these policies, beginning with our general stance in the Middle East. There, in the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. moved “from being the much-admired champion of liberty and self-government to the hated and feared advocate of a new imperial order.” This drive for hegemony, exemplified most recently by President Bush’s “avaricious, premeditated, un-provoked war” against Iraq, bears many of “the same characteristics as 19th-century European imperialism: military garrisons; economic penetration and control; support for leaders, no matter how brutal and undemocratic, as long as they obey the imperial power; and the exploitation and depletion of natural resources.”

A major outpost of our neo-imperial ambitions is the state of Israel. Or is it the other way around? All over the Middle East, writes Scheuer, the United States is now seen as a country that has “abandoned multiple generations of Palestinians to cradle-to-grave life in refugee camps” while “arming and funding [Israel’s] anti-Muslim violence.” It is, indeed, a wonder how Israel, “a theocracy-in-all-but-name of only about six million people . . . ultimately controls the extent and even the occurrence of an important portion of political discourse and national-security debate in a country of 270-plus million people.”

The key to this puzzle, Scheuer contends, lies in Israel’s crafty use of “diplomats, politicians, intelligence services, [and] U.S. citizen spies,” along with “wealthy Jewish-American organizations,” in order to “lac[e] tight the ropes binding the American Gulliver to the Jewish state.” But even to raise this subject, he warns darkly, is perilous to one’s health: our “political and social landscape is littered with the battered individuals. . . who dared to criticize Israel, or, even more heretically, to question the value to U.S. national interests of the country’s overwhelmingly one-way alliance with Israel.”


Sentiments like these mark the author of Imperial Hubris as something of a political hybrid—a cross, not to put too fine a point on it, between an overwrought Buchananite and a raving Chomskyite. This alone, one might think, should have unfitted him for a high position of trust within the CIA. But that is not the end of it. Even as he lambastes the United States from his isolationist position, reserving special fury not only for America’s alliance with Israel but for our “hallucinatory crusade for democracy,” Scheuer also swivels to assail Washington for being insufficiently hawkish in waging the war on terror.

“An Unprepared and Ignorant Lunge to Defeat” is how Scheuer titles his chapter on Afghanistan. What appears to exercise him most is the fact that, after September 11, the United States waited almost a month to respond to al Qaeda’s attacks. Instead of a “savage, preplanned U.S. military response,” there was “inexcusable delay” and “supine inaction.” This had the effect of turning the “human-economic calamity” of September 11 into a “catastrophe” and a “full-blown disaster.”

The same passivity supposedly on display in Afghanistan is, Scheuer asserts, undermining the broader war on terrorism. To our lasting peril, we have ignored the maxims of General Curtis LeMay, who taught us that war is about killing people and that “when you have killed enough of them they stop fighting.” What we need to do, and immediately, is to “proceed with relentless, brutal, and, yes, blood-soaked offensive military actions,” and these should not cease “until we have annihilated the Islamists who threaten us.”

Whence this peculiar congeries of views, advanced with supreme self-confidence and heedless inattention to fact? The workings of Scheuer’s mind owe much, he discloses, to an early supervisor who taught him that the key to “framing and solving intelligence problems was to first ‘do the checkables.’” The “checkables,” he explains,

are those parts of a problem that were knowable, the things on which there were classified archival records, pertinent and available human experience, current human assets to consult, or even the results of media and academic research. . . . The supervisor’s recipe was to exploit to exhaustion the “checkables” . . . and thereby identify the information we need to acquire before acting to resolve the problem.

This approach, whether dressed up in agency jargon or simply called basic research, would seem obvious enough. But, to the distress of Scheuer, virtually everyone in the U.S. government, except him, has shunned it. In Imperial Hubris he hammers this theme incessantly, and always in the same words. Here is a very partial selection from a single chapter:

And so forth. It is, then, on the basis of his own, contrasting “willingness to review the checkables” that Scheuer asks us to accept his judgment of Osama bin Laden as a “gentle, generous, talented, and personally courageous” leader, his assessment of our campaign in Afghanistan as “wretchedly ill-conceived,” and his conclusion that the collapse of that country’s government is guaranteed to happen, perhaps not “tomorrow, the day after, or even next year . . . but come it will.”2

All of which leaves only two questions. How did a person of such demonstrable mediocrity of mind and unhinged views achieve the rank he did in the CIA, and how could so manifestly wayward and damaging a work have been published by someone in the agency’s employ? To the second question, at least, an answer of a sort is ready to hand, if one that raises disturbing questions of its own.

 

10 posted on 03/01/2005 3:41:15 PM PST by JohnathanRGalt (---- Fight Islamist CyberTerror at: http://haganah.org.il/haganah/ ----)
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To: quidnunc

The CIA needs to be dissolved. It is time to create something that works. Let's hope Goss roots out the institutional lethargy.


11 posted on 03/01/2005 5:30:38 PM PST by thegreatbeast (Quid lucrum istic mihi est?)
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To: quidnunc
"At the suggestion of my new acquaintance, we met at Tiberio, a posh Italian restaurant on K Street. The agency man, who was perhaps the same age as my KGB contact, had a studied nondescript appearance. Before his present assignment, to a unit debriefing Americans who had had contact with foreigners of interest to the government, he had been stationed in Rome for two years; he could not, he told me, say anything more about what he had been doing there. After a few minutes of such talk, we opened our menus. As he perused the choices, a question sprang from his lips that, when its implications sank in, shocked me to the core: “What’s prosciutto?”"

The CIA doesn't question US citizens inside the USA, unless under very certain circumstances such as just upon returning from a threatening foreign country.

The kid was probably a Mossad agent.

12 posted on 03/01/2005 5:37:37 PM PST by japaneseghost
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