The Washington Post reported on Monday that the two senior CIA officials, one of whom I knew, resigned on Monday. I imagine that Powell’s resignation was the final nail in the coffin, if there needed to be one. The Administration may not like the CIA, but it needs somebody who knows how it works. Apparently Goss thinks he knows enough from his service in the CIA a generation ago, or from his outsider-looking-in position in the House, to re-invent the CIA. It’s a pretty big risk.
Of course, there might be some threat from terrorists, and it might be useful to know what’s going on behind the scenes in Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea, or a few other places. You can argue that the intelligence from these places wasn’t very good under the old regime, although amazingly George Tenet left with little but praise from his boss. It appears that Tenet was brilliant, but was ill-served by everyone working for him.
I’m still not convinced that the “war” on terrorism is more like the war in Iraq or Vietnam than like the war on drugs or poverty. The war in Iraq is related to the “war” on terrorism mainly because of the hatred it has fomented against the US in the Muslim world. The number of foreign fighters killed in Falluja compared to the number of Iraqi fighters will give some indication of the importance of Iraq in killing terrorists. The more foreigners killed, the more successful the Iraq war is as part of the “war” on terrorism.
In any case, the CIA, like State, now goes to the ideologues. Will all of America’s foreign policy now be as misguided as its Iraq policy has been?