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Friday, November 26, 2004

Baltimore Sun Op-ed: Righting the CIA by Melvin A Goodman

Baltimore Sun Op-ed: Righting the CIA by Melvin A Goodman

Righting the CIA by Melvin A. Goodman Published on Friday, November 19, 2004 by the Baltimore Sun

President Harry S. Truman created the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947 to coordinate the various assessments of the intelligence community and to place the CIA outside the policy community. In this way, Mr. Truman wanted to encourage competitive analysis within the intelligence community and to make sure that policy-makers did not tailor intelligence to suit their interests.

Over the years, there have been many attempts to politicize intelligence. But no government has been so blatant as the Bush administration, which used phony intelligence to justify the war against Iraq and has introduced a new director of central intelligence, Porter J. Goss, to conduct a political housecleaning at the highest levels of the agency.

I joined the CIA in 1966 during the Vietnam War and witnessed a major campaign to ensure that intelligence supported the Johnson administration's troop buildup in Southeast Asia. Working-level analysts correctly estimated the size of the Viet Cong forces and even predicted the Tet offensive in 1966, but time and again, senior officials caved in to Pentagon demands to limit the order of battle for irregular forces and to downplay the strength of Vietnam's military capabilities. After Tet in 1968, the CIA made honest efforts to accurately assess the capabilities and strengths of the enemy.

We are witnessing a similar phenomenon today, with agency analysts trying to improve their Iraqi intelligence reporting after tailoring intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism prior to the war.

[…]

I resigned from the CIA in 1990 because of the politicization of intelligence on the Soviet Union, which was championed by CIA Director William J. Casey and his deputy for intelligence, Robert M. Gates. The overestimates of the strength of the Soviet Union in the 1980s meant that the policy community was completely surprised by the Soviet collapse and missed numerous negotiating opportunities with Moscow.

[…]


Read the entire opinion piece here: Righting the CIA by Melvin A. Goodman Published on Friday, November 19, 2004 by the Baltimore Sun

20041119 Baltimore Sun Op ed Righting the CIA by Melvin A Goodman