Thursday, May 11, 2006

Politics Over Policy

Like a broken record, we hear over and over again about President Bush's preference for politics to good policy, most eloquently embodied by the promotion of smear merchant, election rigger, and all-around assclown Karl Rove to Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, the position from which he has recently resigned.

Today, Sidney Blumenthal has an excellent column detailing exactly how the CIA has gone from a dark, soulless intelligence gathering agency to a dark, soulless political apparatus entrusted to support the policies of George W. Bush at the expense of all else, including the safety of the American people. The entire column is disturbing, delving into corruption (bo-ring!) and the attendance of ex-CIA chief Goss and his buds at the Cunningham hooker parties (ooh! Me like...). But for me, the most disturbing aspect of all of this:

But despite urgent pressures to report to the contrary, the CIA never reported that Saddam presented an imminent national security threat to the United States, that he was near to developing nuclear weapons, or that he had any ties to al-Qaida. Moreover, analysts predicted a protracted insurgency after an invasion of Iraq. Tenet, despite the lack of cooperation from the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, acted as backslapper for the administration's policy.

The White House was in a fury. The CIA's professionalism was perceived as political warfare, and the agency apparently was seen as the center of a conspiracy to overthrow the administration. Inside the offices of the president, the vice president and the secretary of defense, the CIA was referred to as a treasonous enemy. "If we lived in a primitive age, the ground at Langley would be laid waste and salted, and there would be heads on spikes," wrote neoconservative columnist David Brooks in the New York Times on Nov. 13, 2004, citing White House officials and "members of the executive branch" as his sources. Reflecting their rage, he called on Bush to "punish the mutineers ... If the C.I.A. pays no price for its behavior, no one will pay a price for anything, and everything is permitted. That, Mr. President, is a slam-dunk."

On April 21, 2005, his mission dictated by Bush's political imperatives, Goss became CIA director. Immediately, he sent a memo to all employees, ordering them to "support the administration and its policies in our work." He underscored the supremacy of the party line: "As agency employees we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies."

He installed four political aides to run the agency from his offices on the seventh floor at Langley. Within weeks, an exodus of professionals began and then turned into a flood. In the Directorate of Operations, he lost the director, two deputies, and more than a dozen department and division directors and station chiefs out in the field. In the Directorate of Intelligence, dozens took early retirement. Four former operations chiefs, horrified by the carnage, sought to meet with Goss, but he refused.
See, to me that's frightening -- not surprising, mind you –- but frightening. Getting people who disagreed with the AttackIraq zealots out of the CIA was more important than protecting us from harm. Instead of having the cream of the crop of intelligence analysts, Bush would rather have Republican flunkies. Politics over policy. It has directed every single decision Bush has ever made; it is directly responsible for the mess we're in today.

Are you better off now than you were 5 years ago? Is anyone?

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