4/24/2009

The CIA is not Monolithic

Instapundit says:
"I’D FEEL SORRIER FOR THE C.I.A. FOLKS, if they hadn’t run a multiyear leak-war against the Bush Administration. Did they really think electing Obama would improve their situation?"
That sentiment would make sense if the CIA was a monolithic organization and voting bloc. However we are really talking about two different worlds within one agency.

The folks that Glenn would, and should, feel sorry for at this moment are the dispirited members of the Agency's Directorate of Operations. These are the 'brawny' operatives work in the shadows and handle unpleasant business. Many of them come to the agency from the world of military Special Forces. As such, they probably didn't vote overwhelmingly for President Obama, or wage any war against President Bush

On the other hand, the Analysis side of the house (where most of those pesky leaks probably came from) is filled with....analysts! These are not people who used to hang their professional hat at Ft Bragg or Coronado. They are the 'brainy' types who hold post-graduate degrees in International Affairs or such, and are far more likely to have a "Hope" bumpersticker on their Prius in the parking lot at Langley than their DO counterparts. As a whole they are not a bad crowd, but it within them where the problem existed for President Bush and his policies.

So, in short...these days when it comes to the CIA, it is the 'brawny' that does deserve sympathy, while some of the 'brainy' that deserve contempt...

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers. Glenn points out "If CIA leadership had wanted to shut down those leaks, I think it probably could have." About this he is correct. And in fact I should have also originally included 'leadership' as a third culture within the agency. However, the Leadership would tend to be/look like the 'brainy' Analysts, with the further negative factor that it is also filled with lawyers!

13 comments:

Eric said...

Maybe the brawny types need to have a serious talk with the brainy types.

I have to agree with Instapundit. Some chunk of the CIA basically committed treason. If the rest of the organization can't figure out who the bad apples are, then the whole organization needs to go.

Simon Kenton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon Kenton said...

Under a democracy an intelligence agency has to remain apolitical and devoted to its country's interests. Has to be patriots. The CIA wasn't. They gave up their honor, as an organization and as unnamed individuals, for a mess of pottage. Now it's with them as it is with all betrayers - the one they sold out for values them even less than the one they sold out. Eric's right. Let them join the best and the brightest structuring derivatives for AIG, turn off the lights at Langley, and let's see what the new administration comes up with for an intelligence service. If they think we need one.

Greg Toombs said...

Why would anyone pursue a career with the CIA? Tenure and benefits? The joy of obscure, internecine turf battles? Periodic show trials? What?

John at Cornerstone Commons said...

Thank you for presenting this subject. I also agree with Instapundit. Somebody in the CIA could have acted to stop the treason. Along with Hansen and NASA, and the DOJ, most of the government has now become advocacy groups for the Marxist Party in the U.S. They can all burn in hell.

SDN said...

I'm not sure that I agree with Instapundit or CF that this could have been stopped. We are not talking about political appointees here, but career bureaucrats, protected by Civil Service rules, union membership, whistleblower laws, a sympathetic press, the ability to greymail at trial, and last but by no means least, a disloyal Copperhead opposition in Congress whose votes are needed to get essential actions in the current war approved without filibuster.

Given that toxic environment, George Washington couldn't rein in the bureaucracy. Lincoln possibly could.... but only because he was willing to rule outside the Constitution and had a Senate that wouldn't impeach him. With the RINOs Bush had to deal with? No way.

Moneyrunner said...

The Obama administration is branding the CIA as a bunch of rogue torturers and worse. That is an interesting development for the CIA. From my perspective, they appear to have failed in their primary function prior to 9/11, and become part of the organized anti-Bush political scene after, helping to so demonize Bush that it helped Obama get elected. You would think that Obama would be grateful, but he appears to be throwing the CIA under the bus as part of this anti-Bush-all-the-time strategy.

Lest I be accused of painting with too broad a brush, I will admit that it appears that elements of the CIA did get enough intelligence to stop a second 9/11 attack. We will not be sure until all the evidence is presented, but former Vice President Dick Cheney has seen the evidence and apparently believes this to be the case. Of course, the evidence of this is assumed to be in the form of reports by the CIA itself, and there is a question of whether the organization can be trusted to justify its own actions.

While conservatives are often reflexively ready to spring to the defense of the military or groups like the CIA, at this point some of us remember the past and ask the question, whose side are they on? Should we defend them or hang them out to dry? Is the agency similar to the Abwehr in WW2, headed by Admiral Canaris?

Firehand said...

Yeah, they've got civil service rules, but, as the commissioner at an agency I worked for once said, "If you screw up bad enough, we can fire you." If leaking classified information and reports isn't 'bad enough', then it's because the bosses didn't care, or wanted it leaked.

SDN said...

Which is why one of the elements I mentioned was the Copperhead opposition: "Hi Comissioner, Senator Schumer. You would really like to not appear before me to explain why you fired those brave whistleblowers. Oh, you won't come? Well, we've got enough votes to filibuster the budget for your office... unless it isn't your office any more."

Mark in Texas said...

If the leadership at the CIA had wanted to deter leaking by analysts in Virginia, they could have reassigned suspected leakers to do on the spot analysis from Fallujah or Kandahar. I recall the great weeping and gnashing of teeth from the State Department when Condi Rice told those useless drones that they were going to be spending a lot more of their careers in places like Baghdad and Kabul and a lot less in places like Paris and Rome.

If the analysts preferred to remain in DC rather than to go where their assignments took them, they would be free to resign to work for the Brookings Institute or become Congressional staffers.

- said...

The CIA has experienced many leaks over the years, and yet things seem to always stay the same.

AST said...

After 9/11, when everybody was talking about connecting the dots and looking for someone to blame, I thought that the very fact that we were all talking about it made it unlikely that it could ever function as it is supposed to. When both the President and Congress are exercising oversight, the only sure result is an oversight.

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