Who’s Minding The CIA?

By
October 30, 2005

I clicked on Instapundit this evening and see that he addressed a topic that’s been very much on my mind since hearing reference to the CIA on Mark Levin’s radio show on Friday. I too am very troubled when thinking about the CIA’s role in the entire Plame affair, not to mention their role in leading up to the Iraq War in the first place.

THE BIG LOSER in the Libby affair, it would seem to me, is the CIA. At least it will be if anyone pays attention. Consider: Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative — something that’s not actually quite clear from the indictment — the chain of events looks pretty damning …

People seem so intent on repeating the myth that we went to war over WMD’s, all I can do is scratch my head, as that was never my impression in the first place. We went to war because Saddam refused to give way to years of UN sanctions and inspections. On top of that, his air force was trying repeatedly to shoot down our planes over the no-fly zones.

The Bush administration never linked Saddam Hussein to 9/11, nor did they ever say anything as regards Iraq and WMD which wasn’t already being said by a previous American President, Clinton, the CIA and the bulk of intelligence agencies around the world. And Britain’s intelligence agency still insists that Wilson’s alleged intelligence work missed the mark and Saddam actually did try to obtain yellow cake Uranium from Niger. That one fact alone renders the entire Wilson / Plame episode moot as far as impacting upon any alleged rationale for war.

How ironic that just when it was becoming obvious there were myriad intelligence gaffes by our CIA, not only in leading up to the war, but quite possibly through the decade or so preceding 9/11 and the Afghan and Iraq wars, that the very agency who should be in question would facilitate a covert operation using an unlikely and unqualified operative with a very big mouth to undertake one of the more important missions before them at the time. It simply makes no sense.

It’s increasingly difficult to conclude that the CIA was doing anything other than manufacturing cover for their own terrible performance, and perhaps taking steps, much like Hoover’s FBI was once wont to do, to ensure that it wasn’t going to be held accountable to the full measure that it should have been for what appears to be poor performance over some number of years.

While we like to think of agencies like the FBI and the CIA as pure and ever vigilant defenders of America and Americans, the Hoover years should be a stark reminder that operating half in the dark as they must, they are also free to become huge bureaucracies which can at times develop methods of thinking, ways of doing things and distinct agendas all their own.

Post 9/11 to date, I have heard the words faulty intelligence bandied about more often by more politicians and pundits on both sides of the isle than I can recall in America’s history. Yet nothing I have seen or heard said in public over recent years has given me any real assurance that the issue has been addressed to anyone’s satisfaction, let alone my own.

Given that the CIA now seems at the center of more than its share of debacles, from faulty pre-terrorist attack and pre-war intelligence to the Plame affair, isn’t it now time that someone asks the simple question, who’s minding the CIA?

And, when they ask it, they might just as well inquire into two other matters. What the hell were they up to in sending a person such as Joe Wilson, given all we’ve now learned of him, on some secret mission? That certainly doesn’t sound like the CIA I want watching, or not watching my back, as it were. And then perhaps it’s time for some discussions around Able Danger and to what extent they may or may not be involved there, as well.

I’ve given up on demanding objectivity coupled with intelligence from more than a few of our many politicians. I see no reason to do the same when it comes to the Central Intelligence Agency.



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Comments:
  1. DanFan says:

    “The Bush administration never linked Saddam Hussein to 9/11, nor did they ever say anything as regards Iraq and WMD which wasn’t already being said by a previous American President, Clinton, the CIA and the bulk of intelligence agencies around the world.”
    Excellent post, Dan! And by the way, congratulations on your new assignment!

  2. DanFan says:

    “The Bush administration never linked Saddam Hussein to 9/11, nor did they ever say anything as regards Iraq and WMD which wasn’t already being said by a previous American President, Clinton, the CIA and the bulk of intelligence agencies around the world.”
    Excellent post, Dan! And by the way, congratulations on your new assignment!

  3. NevadaMom says:

    Excellent post Dan, it woudl be interesting to see what you can come up with about post 911 and the chaos in the CIA. Bush probably had no choice but to keep the current management but at what cost?

  4. Phoenix says:

    Dan,
    I know I stand alone, but I take comfort in the fact our politicians don’t know anything about the CIA. As a regular citizen, I, too, do not know anything and I believe it should be that way. The CIA and the Mossad are the world’s two greatest spy agencies. I think the fact that everyone feels ‘confused’ by our CIA is a good thing, the natural order of things. I also believe our reason for going into Iraq was/is to set up a military base there. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have rearranged all the military bases to upgrade positions for the 21st century troublespots. We need one in the Levant considering the surrounding countries are all nuked-up. Iraq is the perfect spot to give Israel a refueling stop on the way home from bombing Iran back into the Stone Age, and it is the perfect place for us to keep an eye on our political, economic and security interests.

  5. Wurly says:

    If the CIA knew that Plame was not a covert agent, then why did it refer the matter to the justice department for an investigation at all. The whole thing stinks of a CIA operation against the Administration, specifically intended to get back at the Bushies for telling the truth about the farcical Joe Wilson trip to Niger and his subsequent disinformation campaign.

  6. JustAsking says:

    There are a lot of unpulled threads around this as well. How did Joe Wilson come into contact with the forged Niger documents? Why were they forged? Who forged them? Who is Rocco Martino? Who did he work for? What is the DGSE’s role in this? Who is Jacqueline Giorgi? Who did [does] she work for? Is there a connection to the food-for-oil program?

  7. JustAsking says:

    “If the CIA knew that Plame was not a covert agent, then why did it refer the matter to the justice department for an investigation at all.”
    For the sake of transparancy. To not refer it would be to allow the Democrats to yell “coverup!” They expected the DoJ would quickly conclude that no crime was committed and it would be over. Instead it went to a special prosecutor and as all DC knows, no special prosecutor will ever leave until crow-barred out or a change of administration even if there is no evidence of a crime. You give them a year to find one — it will take a year. Give them three years — it will take three years. If they can’t find something based on the original charges they will get some charges, any charges, based on peripheral activities.

  8. Wurly says:

    “For the sake of transparency”? How difficult would it have been to simply state – Ms. Plame had not been under cover outside of the United States in the prior five years, therefore there was no crime involved in mentioning her name and CIA employment?
    I’d really like to know what Porter Goss is up to at the CIA. He’d better be cleaning the place out.

  9. Shonane says:

    People seem so intent on repeating the myth that we went to war over WMD’s, all I can do is scratch my head, as that was never my impression in the first place. We went to war because Saddam refused to give way to years of UN sanctions and inspections. On top of that, his air force was trying repeatedly to shoot down our planes over the no-fly zones. Dan
    ==============
    This is not a myth!
    I intensely followed the lead up to this invasion. I taped and watched C-Span testimony in Congress, the UN presentations, watched or read all I could get my hands on.
    The administration claimed that Saddam was a potential danger to us and our allies, that they believed he was developing nuclear capability and that he had WMDs. Saddam actually let the UN inspectors back in the country so we cannot say he did not. Many UN members were furious that we preempted this inspection process. Then there was the famous plagiarized UK report on WMDs that apparently was mostly taken off the internet and was based on information during Bush Sr. years in office, prior to the Gulf war. All the while, you had Scott Ridder, a previous UN inspector in Iraq (last there 4 yrs prior) going all over giving speeches telling everyone “no way this is true.”
    Tony Blair has lost much credibility over this misinformation as the basis for war, and he came close to being booted out last year over it. How can you scratch your head about this? This was the basis for Congress giving Pres Bush authority to invade if he felt he needed to. Read the Congressional resolution, the inspections were just a part of it and they were underway again. The weapons inspectors had to be withdrawn just so we could go in and bomb them. Then, no WMDs were ever found.
    I adamantly opposed this invasion because I did not believe the information was credible. All the things I heard or read preinvasion, are now finally being accepted as the real situation.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Plame was referred to a Special Prosecutor who works in organized crime, this is how DOJ proscutes bad CIA agents like Howard, Ames, and Plame. Obviously Fitz chose not to do his job; DOJ now works for CIA.
    No one is in control at CIA. It was out of control and Congress already asked to have it disbanded. Bush bribed Congress with a congressman from Florida who was an operations officer at CIA. Later, when it became obvious Fitz would not do his job, the director then was given control over DOJ both domestically and internatnionally according to charter at congress the cover up is Plame operated domestically and America understands this. The retired CIA agents who back Plame know what they are backing and probably have gone too far with it to get out.

  11. Shonane says:

    I also believe our reason for going into Iraq was/is to set up a military base there. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have rearranged all the military bases to upgrade positions for the 21st century troublespots.
    Posted by: Phoenix
    =======
    I think this is the reason we went there also. And that may well be in our self interest and in the interest of our allies. But, is it ethical? And,that was not how this war was marketed nor would it have been supported for this cause. The problem is, it was marketed based on falsehoods.

  12. Dreamquestrob says:

    I agree with you 100% Dan.
    To be onest with you I never ever understood why the wife of an ambassador would be tapped as a CIA operative. If they were married (and she were with CIA) before he was appointed ambassador then she should have stepped down from her post. I believe this was a grave error on the part of the CIA and could jeopardize every ambassador’s family world-wide as now other countries will surely view the U.S. State Department as all being CIA. Not only that it casts doubt on other Americans who travel and work abroad — look at yesterday and today’s headlines about the missionarys who are being expelled from Venzuela, for example — because Chavez says they are CIA agents…
    The agency needs to be strengthened and the leadership needs to exude the abilty to make good decisions.

  13. Porkopolis says:

    From Wilson’s OpEd (http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0706-02.htm):
    “…The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president’s office.
    After consulting with the State Department’s African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip. The mission I undertook was discreet but by no means secret…”
    How many more “discreet but by no means secret” missions is the CIA still sub-contracting to this very day?
    For example: Are we discreetly (not secretly) getting information about Iran’s nuclear program that might compromise a source with another OpEd in the NYT?

  14. Jim Rockford says:

    Shoane that’s a fantasy. The run-up to the war included the statement from Larry Wilkerson, CoS for Colin Powell, that EVERYONE in DC in both parties felt Saddam had WMDs. Wilkerson (“secret cabal”) said he himself saw satellite imagery showing Saddam’s military sending a convoy of trucks to clear out suspected WMD sites before inspection, down to the dirt. The site completely bare.
    Saddam delayed, and delayed, not realizing that post-9/11 the US would not act as in 1991; and he’d get with the program (no WMDs and full and open inspection, end his hostility to the US) or get removed by force. He figured on his full bribery program (most of France’s political figures, Russia’s, the anti-War movement in the UK such as Galloway and the US, media figures, and of course Scott Ritter, now facing child molestation charges). As an aside the moral standing of the Anti-War movement, consisting of outright anti-Semites on the pad of Saddam (Galloway) or simple anti-Semites (Cindy Sheehan) who hate America (and have said so), to accused child molestors like Ritter on the payroll of Saddam seems pretty shot. Pathetic really.
    Saddam DID for a week or so let inspectors in at the last minute, and they found once more forbidden missiles and evidence of an effort to retain WMD manufacturing capability in violation of Saddam’s prior agreements. The UN cited at least five “full and final” disclosures by Saddam of WMD programs that were false and overturned by new disclosures by defectors or intelligence.
    We had NO human intelligence sources inside Saddam’s circle; all we had to go on was satellite imagery and Saddam’s proven record during 1992-2003 of deceiving the UN on WMDs. It seems that Saddam wanted to keep WMD capacity and as soon as sanctions were lifted (which was coming) make WMDs on a massive scale, presumably to resume the occupation of Kuwait and probably Saudi Arabia.
    It all came down to which did you trust: Saddam or the satellite imagery. EVERY intelligence service including the Russians, Germans, and French agreed Saddam had WMDs. The basic disagreement was what to do about them.
    The CIA should be abolished; it has been spectacularly unable to develop human intel sources; stamps out programs like Able Danger that work; and tries to make policy instead of simply report intelligence. The parallels with Hoover are uncanny.

  15. Phoenix says:

    Shonane,
    Bush couldn’t have marketed the war to set a military base in Iraq. Congress and the country would not have allowed it. The neo-cons were smart enough to know that so they set up the WMD scenario. People see politics on a daily continuum and cannot grasp the long-term geopolitical scene. I think this move will be lauded as pure genius in a decade. Ethical? Depends on what you consider important. Saving Israel, saving ourselves from nuclear attack….. yeah….at any cost. We don’t know what happened with this Plame affair – maybe it’s all part of our desperate need to get ourselves set up in the Levant, but it will go away and some day people writing the history of this generation won’t even think about it.
    Iraq is the medium. Our presence there is the message. (ht: Marshall McLuhan)

  16. Phoenix says:

    My daughter has this assignment for a justice class. She needs a ‘leader’. Any ideas from anyone ??
    In the Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli presents a model for what he viewed as an
    effective political leader, citing among others, the figure of Cesare Borgia. Were
    he alive and writing today, what living statesman might Machiavelli hold up as a
    model for “the prince” (ie- an extraordinarily effective political leader) and why.
    In support of your analysis, cite both specific qualities lauded by Machiavelli–
    including reference to where that is found in the text–and specific examples of
    those qualities from the life, career, and actions of the person you selected….

  17. Shonane says:

    Scott Ritter, now facing child molestation charges).
    ==========
    I didn’t know about that. I know nothing about it, but wouldn’t be suprised if this isn’t another payback Valerie Plume type situation. I am going to see what I can find out about this. I knew they were going to try and get him somehow – a payback, and kept waiting for some type of setup to happen. If it is real, how convenient. He doesn’t seem like a child molester type to me. Is a military man and apparently had very good credentials.

  18. Shonane says:

    Bush couldn’t have marketed the war to set a military base in Iraq. Congress and the country would not have allowed it.
    Posted by: Phoenix |
    ============
    I know.

  19. Shonane says:

    Jim Rockford – I do not agree with some of your conclusions. Further, the weapons inspectors were in there more than a week. No matter what they think they saw there, Iraq was being monitored and they weren’t going to be able to do anything to harm anybody with the UN swarming all around inspecting and the no fly zones being patrolled. Saddam had no air power at all – not a single plane fought against us when we invaded, at least it wasn’t reported it if occurred. He was sufficiently crippled and he has not a threat to anybody, not us, not our allies, or his neighbors. If he has reneged and kicked out the UN inspectors again, then it would have been a different situation and cause for alarm. He did not.

  20. Shonane says:

    My daughter has this assignment for a justice class. She needs a ‘leader’. Any ideas from anyone ??
    Phoenix
    =============
    Jesus – has a great following even 2000 years following his birth.
    Martin Luther King – This one will result in a good study of our country’s social evolution. Not many have a US federal holiday named after them.

  21. ! says:

    EXACTLY DAN…I wish others could comprehend and understand that !!
    ———————————————–
    People seem so intent on repeating the myth that we went to war over WMD’s, all I can do is scratch my head, as that was never my impression in the first place. We went to war because Saddam refused to give way to years of UN sanctions and inspections. On top of that, his air force was trying repeatedly to shoot down our planes over the no-fly zones.
    Posted by Dan in Politics

  22. Phoenix says:

    Thanks, Shonane – both excellent choices. It has to be a ‘political’ leader and I’m not sure if the professor would appreciate Jesus’ political savvy in a comparison to Machiavelli. Jesus was at the behest of the Romans and was unable, at least during his lifetime, to use political skills to bring about much change.
    Martin Luther King – YES. I would only worry about his being referred to as a ‘statesman’ as he lived and did his work on the periphery of the political scene. His monumental changes IN the political scene were cause and effect of a movement in which he rose to the top.
    I gave my daughter Vaclav Havel – former president of Czechoslovakia. He brought back into the consciousness of his time that personal responsibility and our conscience must catch up to our reason. His spiritual and ethical views transcended politics, but he saved his country.
    My daughter’s professor is quite the ass. He is a visiting professor and takes no prisoners. He’s some hot shot in the government.
    But thanks for two great choices!

  23. Time to clean house at the CIA?

    Yeah, and I wanted Lyin’ Joe Wilson. That’s life I guess. Captain Ed has a great post here on why Wilson’s the one who should really be hung out to dry over this. Glenn Reynolds:THE BIG LOSER in the

  24. demosthenes says:

    it seems to me that Joe Wilson should be prosecuted for lying to Congress

  25. festicles says:

    I must have missed something. Didn’t I watch Bush on national TV saying that Saddam possessed WMD’s, and didn’t Colin Poeell go to the UN and make the same case. Didn’t the French argue to give weapons inspectors more time, while we said it was to big a risk? I’m not saying the WMD’s were the real underlying reason the Bushies wanted to go into Iraq, but was it not the official “propaganda” reason that was heavily marketed to our citizens and the international community? I recall Cheney repeatedly trying to link Saddam to al quaeda throught the alleged meeting in Prague, and the continued emphasis on linking Saddam to al quaeda and the statements that he had mobile WMD facilities.
    Am I missing the point in this discussion? Are those of you that are saying Bush did not take us to war over WMD’s meaning that WMD’s was not the REAL reason; or are you saying WMD’s were not the reason that was used to sell the public? The first is a tenable position, I’m having trouble with the second.

  26. janelle says:

    this whole thing really smells. on the original niger report page 39/4acrobat, “the former ambassador was selected for the 1999 trip. after his wife mentioned to her supervisors”. so wilson went to niger in 1999 too, at the suggestion of his wife! then on pg9/10 the former ambassador noted his cia contacts told him there were documents pertaining to the uranium transaction and source. the do reports office said he did not share classified reports and no reports circulating. then wilson in the june 12 2003 washington post states the dates were wrong on the report – but he could have never have seen them! (lol) this whole confusing web of lies reak to high heaven. oh yeah, why does msm keep saying that cheney told libby that wilson’s wife was cia when report says it was john bolton. wilson worked on kerry campaign by the way. now, i’m usually not big on conspiracies but i can see how some thought the cia was trying to take down the whitehouse. i can see why libby and others might try and get the press to investigate and report all this, throw a little out there (wilson’s wife was already known)and stir things up. but libby’s different stories or lies to the jury and the fbi? makes no sense. why interfere with an investigation, there wasn’t a leak. some think he’s taken the bullet for a reason perhaps classified information and not a particular person. i think maybe -a keep it simple reason- his ego just got in the way and he thought he could beat those trying to undermind the whitehouse during war time. i got the feeling this was what the prosecutor thinks. why any of these people ever talk to the media is beyond me. especially the nytimes, which has been on a mission. time to clean house at the cia.

  27. janelle says:

    saddam did have stockpiles of yellow cake from al qaim that was tagged and monitored by the un since gulf1. saddam wasn’t meeting the un resolutions, that’s why we went to war.

  28. josh says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m not insane. Bush definitely said that Sadam posed a clear and immediate threat. That was almost certainly why the American people supported the invasion, which is to say that that is why we went to war. Remember this is a democracy.
    “Bush couldn’t have marketed the war to set a military base in Iraq. Congress and the country would not have allowed it. The neo-cons were smart enough to know that so they set up the WMD scenario.”
    Okay, so isn’t this treason? Is democracy that unimportant. Why not just say “screw it” and have a king. They needed to make their case honestly and if people didn’t support it then tough noogies.

  29. paul says:

    And what Bush appointee was head of the CIA at the time?
    Failure to participate in a coverup as well as being the agency that broght the charges that opened up the whole can of worms might be a real cause of the problem with the CIA in some peoples eyes.

  30. wally says:

    Did you just not listen to all of the times the White House claimed the threat of WMD getting to terrorists was the primary reason for going to war? “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud…” etc. How often did you hear that? Yes, Bush didn’t say much more than Clinton and others said about believing Saddam had weapons, but he did say it was worth going to war over at that exact moment in time, which is a leap a lot of others didn’t make.
    And whatever you think about Joe Wilson, the man was an ambassador to Iraq and to 2 African nations. He had experience with the African uranium trade. He had personal contacts in Niger. Whether you believe his conclusions or not, it’s ridiculous to say he wasn’t qualified for the job. Yes, he eventually worked for Kerry. After the Bush administration blew his wife’s cover. Before he felt (rightly or wrongly) that the administration was distorting his conclusions, he wasn’t anti-Bush or anti-war. The man served honorably under the first Bush and under Clinton.
    And the fact that the CIA felt it was appropriate to refer the matter to the Justice Department for investigation does seem to strongly infer that she was covert. If she wasn’t, there would be no possibility that a crime was committed at all. The CIA would have known whether she was or not when they called for the investigation. If she wasn’t covert, why would they bother? And spare me the assinine conspiracy theories about the CIA wanting to bring the Bush administration down. It’s very likely that she was covert but that whoever outed her didn’t know that or didn’t do it intentionally, so it may not ultimately have been a crime either way. Personally, I think that is what happened–a White House operative wanted to discredit Wilson by claiming his wife was personally responsible for the trip (Why this actually would matter, I have no idea. The man still had plenty of relevant experience.), but they hadn’t been informed she was or had recently been covert.

  31. Pamela says:

    All y’all are giving me the giggles! So, Wally, because *Joe Wilson, the man was an ambassador to Iraq and to 2 African nations. He had experience with the African uranium trade. He had personal contacts in Niger. Whether you believe his conclusions or not, it’s ridiculous to say he wasn’t qualified for the job.*, that’s enough to say he’s QUALIFIED to do a CIA op?! This was an extremely important mission they’d been asked to do, and they send an AMATEUR?!?! What a giggle that gave me!
    And festicles, you DIDN’T *watch Bush on national TV saying that Saddam possessed WMD’s, and didn’t Colin Poeell go to the UN and make the same case.* What you heard them say was that there were tons (literally) of forbidden materiel that was STILL unaccounted for. That materiel could be used to manufacture WMD, which, in turn, could be passed by Saddam to terrorists of ANY radical group. And frankly, after Sept 11,2001, all the arguments from 1998 (about regime change, etc) simply HAD to be engaged on an entirely different level. If you don’t see that, nothing will help you.
    Shonane, that’s REAL funny, insinuating that Scott Ritter’s child molestation charges are payback a la Plame. HiLARious!
    /sarcasm off
    One last thing, for Shonane and Phoenix:
    *Jesus was at the behest of the Romans and was unable, at least during his lifetime, to use political skills to bring about much change.*
    If you think Jesus could have been a great political leader, but just didn’t have time to use his *political skills*, then you just don’t know ANYTHING about Jesus. Does *My kingdom is not of this world.* mean ANYTHING to you??? Sheesh.

  32. janelle says:

    matt cooper oct 30 2005 exclusive:
    “”Basically, I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson’s wife having been involved in sending him to Niger. Libby responded with words to the effect of, “Yeah, I’ve heard that too.””
    omg, i can’t believe they even went after libby. what a crock.

  33. TJM says:

    Joe Wilson went to Niger in 2/02 and the op-ed was published in 7/03. He went there 13 months before the invasion and wrote the op-ed 4 months after the invasion. If this was a CIA set-up of the administration, it was very deep cover.
    Wilson,in his op-ed, lied about his role in the forgeries and while his report of the trip was deemed good by the CIA debriefers, it wasn’t anything that added to the general intelligence (per the SSCI report) so no written report was sent to the VP office ( which Wilson assumed was the case). Since the invasion was over, and Wilson lied about his role in the forgeries, why did Libby et al want to discredit him by anything other than addressing the forgery fiction? Which then leads to the obvious question of why would a smart guy like Libby lie so blatantly to the grand jury.
    It seems to me, Cheney’s knee jerk reaction is to assault opponents, real and imagined, and this was no different. Not only that it was unnecessary.

  34. JG says:

    This whole thing smells. I said from the beginning that they should be investigating the CIA. If this is how they operate, I do not want them working for me. It looks like “the mission” was really an attempt to change policy, normally reserved for elected officials, by the permanent unelected branch of government. There is way too much of this going on these days. It is not like the CIA has a stellar performance record. The US Military seems to be the only bureaucracy hitting on all cylinders – mainly because they finally embraced “jointness”. The rest of the government seems unable to learn this lesson. My advice is do YOUR job first, and do it well, then I will respect your opinion. This has to be an embarrassment for the real spooks at the CIA.