Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Defending the CIA by Paul Pillar

Paul Pillar, ex CIA agent and wannabe pundit reviews three books about the CIA in the March issure of Foriegn Affairs. "Legacy of Ashes" by Tim Weiner and "Spying Blind" by Amy Zegart, both critical of CIA are condemned. "Enemies of Intelligence" by Richard Betts is supportive of CIA and Paul has good words for it. Pillar explains that intelligence is a tough business and you can't expect to always get it right, and successes remain secret but failures are broadcast. He criticizes the author's sources, claiming they are too old or take too much from the 9/11 commission report or Pillar considers them biased. I haven't read any of the books mentioned so I cannot really argue about them, but I don't trust Pillar much.
In actual fact, CIA has been a disaster in recent years. They leaked the Glomar Explorer salvage of a Russian submarine to Seymour Hersch at the New York Times. CIA completely failed to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. CIA failed to warn of 9/11. CIA furnished the evidence that Colin Powell took to the United Nations justifying invasion of Iraq. CIA failed to have a single agent on the ground inside Iraq. CIA said Saddam's nuclear weapons were " A slamdunk". CIA has spent the last eight years attempting to destabilize the Bush Administration by press leaks. CIA set up the damaging Valerie Plame affair. CIA revealed the extent of NSA wiretapping against Al Quada, revealed that NSA was reading Bin Laden's satellite phone, and revealed that the US Treasury department was using the international banking system to track Al Quada money transfers. CIA continues to operate out of US embassies abroad, making their agents easy to trace.
We ought to shut CIA down and save money. All our intelligence comes from NSA intercepts and recon satellites. CIA furnishes little intelligence, much of it is wrong, and nobody really believes anything coming out of CIA any more, be it right or wrong. After so many wrong calls, who in their right mind would trust CIA intelligence?

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