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Republicans Destroyed the CIA

Today’s NYT front pages the conflict between Admiral Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, and Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA over who should be station chiefs at embassies around the world. In describing the dispute, the NYT simply says, “Mr. Blair took over an office born out of the intelligence failures before the Iraq war.” In retrospect those intelligence “failures” were born out of the Bush administration’s desire to have the CIA produce the intelligence that the White House wanted. Because the CIA was reluctant to produce politically motivated intelligence, the White House moved to reduce its clout by installing a new bureaucracy above it — hence Blair vs. Panetta. But it’s also the military versus the civilians. The NYT says one dispute is whether to make the head of London station an NSA officer rather than a CIA officer. Then it goes on to say the Defense Intelligence Agency might be more appropriate to head up the Iraq station, etc. However, NSA is primarily military; it’s always headed by a military officer. DIA of course is military, as are most other intelligence operations. It’s interesting that in the run up to the Iraq war the two small intelligence organizations that were least willing to buy Cheney’s claims about Iraq’s development of nuclear weapons were the State Department’s and the Department of Energy’s, two civilian organizations. The CIA is the other big civilian spy operation, and Bush/Cheney hated it and wanted to destroy or emasculate it. It looks like they succeeded to some extent. Hopefully the CIA will go down fighting.

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