Gossing Over the Record

"Have they all drunk the Kool-Aid?" asked a former CIA colleague, referring to the stampede to appoint a new director and radically restructure the intelligence community. The Kool-Aid allusion was to the "groupthink" that led disciples of self-anointed "messiah" Jim Jones to mass suicide via poisoned Kool-Aid in 1978. Attorney General John Ashcroft warned on … Continue reading “Gossing Over the Record”

Swift Intelligent Smokescreen

What do the president’s nomination of Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), to head the CIA and the seemingly contradictory proposal of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), to dismember the CIA have in common with tales of Swift boats once in Vietnam? Answer: The proven potential of all three to grab the headlines and draw attention away from … Continue reading “Swift Intelligent Smokescreen”

Not Scared Yet? Try Connecting These Dots

"Pre-election period … pre-election plot … pre-election threats": these rolled off National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s lips no less than seven times Sunday on CNN’s Late Edition as she discussed the likely timing of a terrorist attack. She stayed on message. Dr. Rice said the government had actually "picked up discussion" relating to "trying to … Continue reading “Not Scared Yet? Try Connecting These Dots”

The 9/11 Commission Chimera

There they go again, I thought to myself while listening Friday to 9/11 Commission Chair Gov. Tom Kean tell senators for the umpteenth time, "I do not find today anyone really in charge of the intelligence community." Kean’s colleagues have been singing from the same sheet of music. Jamie Gorelick: "The authorities to act cohesively … Continue reading “The 9/11 Commission Chimera”

What Price Unanimity?

The 567-page final report released Thursday by the 9/11 Commission provides a wealth of data – indeed, so much detail that it is easy to get lost in the trees and miss the forest. Comments by the ubiquitous commissioners over the weekend leave the impression either that they themselves have no window on the forest, … Continue reading “What Price Unanimity?”

Condoleezza Needs to Call Anonymous

In our various oral and written presentations on Iraq, my veteran intelligence officer colleagues and I took no delight in sharply criticizing what we perceived to be the corruption of intelligence analysis at CIA. Nothing would have pleased us more than to have been proven wrong. It turns out we did not know the half … Continue reading “Condoleezza Needs to Call Anonymous”

Porter Goss: Cheney Cat’s Paw

There is, thankfully, a remnant of CIA professionals who still put objective analysis above political correctness and career advancement. Just when they thought there were no indignities left for them to suffer, they are shuddering again at press reports that Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) may soon be their new boss. That possibility conjures up a … Continue reading “Porter Goss: Cheney Cat’s Paw”

Why Didn’t They Speak Out Earlier?

The book has an apt title: Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. And the author spells out “why.” We are losing because of the misguided war on Iraq and the upsurge in terrorism it has engendered. Sadly, that conclusion was validated last week by the widespread, coordinated attacks by the … Continue reading “Why Didn’t They Speak Out Earlier?”

Will the Commissioners Cave?

Will the Sept. 11 Commission follow the example set by Congress and the Intelligence Community and let itself be intimidated by Vice President Dick Cheney? Now that the commission’s staff report has pulled the rug out from under the notion so successfully fostered by the administration that Iraq played a role in the attacks of … Continue reading “Will the Commissioners Cave?”

Beware of ‘Credible Intelligence’

Last Wednesday it was Attorney General John Ashcroft – joined Friday by me-too Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge – claiming that “credible intelligence from multiple sources indicates that al-Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States” between now and the November election. If “credible intelligence” sounds to you like protesting too much, there … Continue reading “Beware of ‘Credible Intelligence’”