To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Another Perle Stooge
If the United States Senate confirms Rep. Porter Goss [R FL] as
the new Director of Central Intelligence, it will simply replace
one stooge of Richard Perle and the neo-cons with another. There's
no way George Tenet could have bumbled his way through the job all
those years without the backing of the neo-cons, and in the end
it was Perle who went to the White House with his team, to meet
with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and demand Tenet
be cashiered for turning against Ahmed Chalabi, a more prized Perle
agent. Tenet fell on his sword, but of course Perle had the backing
of Vice President Cheney on this matter, and Porter Goss, chairman
of the House u201CIntelligenceu201D Committee, has been Cheney's lapdog
at least for these last four years. We can see that Perle and his
pals do not give up, and President Bush is still being manipulated
When the 9-11 Commission issued its report last month, the one word
it used to sum up the failure of the Intelligence Community was
that it lacked u201Cimagination.u201D The dimmest bulb in the Intelligence
Community had to be Porter Goss, an ex-CIA agent who parleyed his
experience in that realm into a seat in the House, plus the chairmanship
of the Intelligence Committee. Chairman Pat Roberts of Senate Intelligence,
a Kansas Republican with very little imagination, at least has the
excuse that he was never a CIA operative and thus never understood
how corrupt the Agency has become over the years, which Rep. Goss
had known first hand. By u201Ccorrupt,u201D I of course do not mean u201Ccashu201D
corrupt, but intellectually corrupt, feeding the politicians they
serve what they believe the politicians want to hear, not what is
really going on out there in the cruel world. President Bush supposedly
picked Goss because Senators do not normally reject a sitting member
of Congress for a Cabinet post, although they have done so now and
then. Remember Senator John Tower going down the tubes when nominated
by Bush #41 for Defense Secretary?
Maureen Dowd of The NYTimes had it about right in her comment
about Goss on HBO's Bill Maher’s “RealTime” show August 13: “Porter
Goss is not going to make me sleep better at night, if Al Qaeda
is coming to get us… The 9/11 Commission found that congressional
oversight of intelligence was dysfunctional. Guess who was in charge
of congressional oversight of intelligence? Porter Goss… You know,
he helped Cheney try and suppress the 9/11 Commission at birth.
They tried to suffocate it… But still, I mean, if Cheney gets
his own guy in there – you know, he was already over at the
CIA lurking over the analysts, trying to get them to help him make
up evidence to go to war – if he has his own guy in there,
think of what he can do.”
Then there is the July 3 report that showed up on the Internet's
u201CTruthout,u201D by Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years who has
been openly expressing his disgust with how thoroughly the agency
has been compromised. I posted his comments the same day as a u201Crecommended
reading to my clients.u201D Here it is again:
Cheney Cat’s Paw, Porter Goss, as CIA Director?
By Ray McGovern
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-FL) may soon be their new boss.
That possibility conjures up a painful flashback for those of us
who served as CIA analysts when Richard Nixon was president. Chalk
it up to our navet, but we were taken aback when swashbuckling
James Schlesinger, who followed Richard Helms as CIA director, announced
on arrival, “I am here to see that you guys don’t screw Richard
Nixon!” To underscore his point, Schlesinger told us he would be
reporting directly to White House political adviser Bob Haldeman
(Nixon’s Karl Rove) and not to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger.
No doubt Goss would be more discreet in showing his hand, but his
appointment as director would be the ultimate in politicization.
He has long shown himself to be under the spell of Vice President
Dick Cheney, and would likely report primarily to him and to White
House political adviser Karl Rove rather than to National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Goss would almost certainly follow lame-duck director George Tenet’s
practice of reading to the president in the morning and become an
integral part of the “White House team.” The team-membership phenomenon
is particularly disquieting.
If the failure-prone experience of the past few years has told us
anything, it is that being a “team member” in good standing is the
kiss of death for the CIA director’s primary role of “telling it
like it is” to the president and his senior advisers. It was a painful
moment of truth when former Speaker Newt Gingrich – like Cheney,
a frequent visitor to CIA headquarters – told the press that
Tenet was “so grateful to the president that he would do anything
The Whore of Babylon
One need look no farther than what has become known as a latter-day
Whore of Babylon – the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)
of Oct. 1, 2002, the very title of which betrayed a politically
correct, but substantively wrong, conclusion: “Iraq’s Continuing
Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction.” And bear in mind that
it was only several months after President Bush decided to attack
Iraq that Tenet commissioned that estimate. Not unreasonably, Congress
was wondering about the views of the intelligence community, and
the White House needed congressional acquiescence.
No problem. “Slam-dunk” Tenet, following White House instructions,
ensured that the estimate was cooked to the recipe of Cheney’s tart
speech of August 26, 2002. “We know that Saddam has resumed his
efforts to acquire nuclear weapons,” Cheney said, and the estimate
Tenet signed gave belated endorsement – with “high confidence,”
no less – to that lie.
The intelligence process, of course, was not the only thing undermined.
So was the Constitution. Various drafts of that NIE, reinforced
with heavy doses of “mushroom-cloud” rhetoric, were used to deceive
congressmen and senators into ceding to the executive their prerogative
to declare war – the all-important prerogative that the framers
of the Constitution took great care to reserve exclusively to our
elected representatives in Congress.
What was actually happening was clear to intelligence analysts,
active and retired. We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
were not the only ones to expose it as clearly and often as the
domesticated US media would allow.
But what about CIA alumnus Porter Goss, then in his sixth year as
chairman of the House intelligence oversight committee? Republican
party loyalist first and foremost, Goss chose to give an entirely
new meaning to “oversight.” Even when it became clear that the “mushroom
cloud” reporting was based mostly on a forgery, he just sat back
and watched it all happen. Like Br’er Fox, he didn’t say nothin’.
From Sycophant Tenet to Professional Politician
This is what CIA would get with Porter Goss at the helm. Appointing
Goss would administer the coup de grce to intelligence analysts
trying to survive while still speaking truth without fear or favor.
The only saving grace for them would be the likelihood that they
would be spared “multiple visits” by Cheney to the inner sanctum
where it used to be possible to produce unvarnished analysis without
vice presidents and other policy makers looking over their shoulders
to ensure they “had thought of everything.” Goss, who has a long
history of subservience to Cheney, could be counted upon to play
the Cheney/Gingrich/et al. role himself.
Don’t Throw Me in That Briar Patch
Last month when Tenet was let go, administration officials indicated
that a permanent replacement would not be named until after the
election. They indicated they wanted to avoid washing the dirty
linen of intelligence once again in public. Evidently, they had
not yet checked with Karl Rove.
The Democrats warn smugly that an attempt by the administration
to confirm a new CIA director could become an embarrassing referendum
on CIA’s recent performance, but they miss the point entirely –
and show, once again, that they can’t hold a candle to Rove for
political cleverness. The name of the administration’s game is to
blame Iraq on intelligence failures, and Goss already did so last
week in what amounted to his first campaign speech for the job of
director. Consider court historian Bob Woodward’s book, “Plan of
Attack,” which Condoleezza Rice and other officials have promoted.
Rice has publicly confirmed Woodward’s story about Tenet misleading
the president by claiming the evidence on Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction was a “slam dunk.”
While there is ample evidence of ineptitude on Tenet’s part, this
now-famous vignette obscures the fact that President Bush had unleashed
the dogs of war well before checking to see if there was any credible
intelligence to justify doing so. As the election nears, it serves
the administration nicely to keep the focus on intelligence shortcomings
and to make it appear that the president was misled – on weapons
of mass destruction, for example. And Porter Goss is precisely the
right person to cooperate in this effort. I can imagine Rove laughing
up his sleeve last week at word that the Democrats are urging Senate
minority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to prepare for extensive confirmation
hearings this fall. (In my mind’s eye I can see Rove musing, Bring
The report due later this month by the Senate Intelligence Committee
investigating intelligence performance regarding the long-sought-after
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is said to be scathing in its
criticism of CIA. No problem. This too will help keep the focus
where the White House wants it – the more so since committee
chair and Republican stalwart Pat Roberts (R-KS) can be counted
on to do whatever Cheney and Rove tell him to do. It was not until
Roberts was instructed to give Tenet the cold shoulder that the
latter began to see the handwriting on the wall.
And Republicans are also in control of the 9/11 Commission, which
will be issuing its own report later this month. There are already
signs that Republican commissioners have begun to water down findings
critical of the administration, while highlighting those critical
of intelligence performance.
Goss was happy to let the Senate intelligence committee take the
lead in investigating intelligence performance on key issues like
weapons of mass destruction and, before he decided to promote his
candidacy for director, he generally chose to keep his committee’s
head (and his own) down. With good reason. The myriad shortcomings
in intelligence work appeared on his somnolent watch; by any reasonable
standard, he bears some responsibility for impaired oversight –
not only on Iraq, but on 9/11 as well.
Goss on 9/11
With respect to the various investigations into 9/11, Goss was thrust
into the limelight by Cheney, who initially opposed any investigation
at all. In February 2002, Cheney went so far as to warn that if
Congress decided to go ahead with an investigation, administration
officials might not show up to testify. When folks started talking
about the need for a genuinely independent commission, though, Cheney
acquiesced in the establishment of the congressional joint committee
as the lesser evil and took reassurance in the fact that Goss could
be counted on to keep the lid on – and, when necessary, run
rings around co-chair Sen. Bob Graham, (D-FL).
Porter Goss performed that task brilliantly, giving clear priority
to providing political protection for the president. Goss acquiesced
when the White House and CIA refused to allow the joint committee
to report out any information on what President Bush had been told
before 9/11 – ostensibly because it was “classified.” This
gave rise to thinly disguised, but eloquently expressed, chagrin
on the part of the committee staff director, who clearly had expected
stronger backing in her negotiations with White House officials.
As a result, completely absent from the committee’s report was any
mention of the President’s Daily Brief of Aug. 6, 2001, which bore
the title “Bin Laden determined to strike in US,” even though the
press had already reported the title and the gist of that damning
piece of evidence. Small wonder that the families of 9/11 victims
were outraged and pressed even harder for an independent investigation.
And a First for a Congressional Committee
The most notable (and bizarre) achievement of the joint committee
was inviting the FBI to investigate members of Congress. In June
2002, Cheney called Goss and Graham to chastise them for a media
leak of sensitive information from intercepted communications. A
CNN report had attributed the leak to “two congressional sources,”
and Cheney was livid.
Goss admitted to being “chagrined” over Cheney’s call. He and Graham
promptly bypassed normal congressional procedures and went directly
to Attorney General John Ashcroft, asking him to investigate the
leak. Little thought apparently was given to the separation of powers
between the executive and congressional branches, or the fact that
Congress has its own capability for such investigations.
Next thing you know, the FBI is crawling all over Capitol Hill,
questioning members of the joint committee that is investigating
the FBI, CIA, et al., and asking members of Congress to submit to
lie-detector tests. Shaking his head, Sen. John McCain (R-NM) noted
the ludicrousness of allowing the FBI to build dossiers on lawmakers
who are supposed to be investigating the FBI. He and others joined
those pushing for the creation of an independent 9/11 commission.
That Goss and Graham could be so easily intimidated by Cheney speaks
West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the
Senate intelligence committee is right in saying, “We need a director
who is not only knowledgeable and capable but unquestionably independent.”
And politicians need not apply. Rockefeller would rule out “any
politician from either party.” But who pays attention to minority
members these days – ranking or non-ranking? Rockefeller might
have added that another prerequisite is prior experience managing
a large, complex organization. Tenet had none; neither does Goss.
There seems a better than even chance the Bush administration will
nominate Goss, and use the nomination hearings as yet another forum
at which to blame the Iraq debacle on faulty intelligence. And,
as a bonus for Bush, if there is time before the election, it would
seem a safe bet that Goss will be able to bring to heel recalcitrant
analysts who are still “fighting the problem,” still staring in
disbelief at the given wisdom (given, apparently, only to the Pentagon
and White House) that Iraq and al-Qaeda were in bed with each other.
* * * * *
Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, is co-founder of Veteran
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He is also the author of
A Compromised CIA: What Can Be Done? – Chapter 4 in
“Patriotism, Democracy and Common Sense,” to be published in September
by the Eisenhower Foundation. His chapter includes a long section
titled “The Qualities Needed in a Director of Central Intelligence.”