Thursday, November 10, 2005

Today's Reading Assignment... Reuel Marc Gerecht, in the WSJ's Opinion Journal section. A former CIA case officer, Mr. Gerecht notes that the agency has always been dangerously sloppy in providing cover for its agents overseas. In fact, "The Company" is so bad that most agents are identified within weeks of their arrival, with sometimes deadly consequences for the locals they recruit as spies.

Judging from Gerecht's article, I'd say Valerie Plame's cover was blown long before Robert Novak's infamous column. Read the column, and you'll say that Porter Goss needs an even bigger shovel to muck out the stalls at Langley.


Wanderlust said...

spook86, I'm thinking that Goss just might have to rebuild the damned barn, much less muck out a few stalls...

Unknown said...

Can't say that I disagree, and that seems to be Negroponte's vision. Under his DNI construct, the CIA will focus almost exclusively on human intelligence and covert ops; the DNI and National Intelligence Council will assume most of the agency's analytical functions.

The bad news is that there are still lots of people with their own agenda in the ops directorate, so I predict that you'll see even more heads roll in the coming months. I also predict that Valerie Plame will call a press conference to announce her "retirement" from the agency. With her cover blown--by Rick Ames (and others, not Scooter Libby) she has no future in the ops directorate, and with her role in the Wilson Niger visit, she has few friends on the analytical side. Of course, she'll get a sizable book advance and movie deal, and she'll join her despicable husband as an icon of the left.

Wanderlust said...

spook86, back when I was working on Comanche, several of my (older) colleagues, most of whom had been working for the company for years, shuddered at the thought of having to work in the "black hole" on site. To them, it was a career-killer: you couldn't demonstrate to the outside world how you added value to the organization, and your career progression (outside) hung on the opinion of one Director (who was cleared for those programs), whose personality earned him the nick "Johnny Psycho". His moods could swing from friend to enemy in a moment. Therefore, going to work in the Black Hole for longer than a week or two put your career future at his mercy.

So consider: if you work in the black world long enough, you have nothing demonstrable to your counterparts "on the outside" if and when you want to work in the white world again. BUT, while in the black world, if you are in the black deeply enough, you can put yourself in a position where you control information, and money, outside of the prying eyes of white-world oversight. The temptation of thinking that you are better than your white-world counterparts grows stronger with each passing year, especially if your salary doesn't grow by the same amount as theirs.

If one extrapolates those conditions (no career visibility, lower salary, and being privy to "secrets") over a long time, I believe it's quite easy for people to fall prey to a litany of temptations, from information manipulation to outright spying. I'm certainly not endorsing any such behavior, but what I am saying, is that the longer one is immersed in the black world, the more it becomes a stronger and stronger test of character. As you well know, politics and control of budgets, taken together, represents an incredible elixr of power.

On top of that, consider the internecine rivalry going on at the Company: you have a president (Bush 43) whose father once ran the Agency for 12 months during its worst housecleaning era (the Ford Administration), through the fiascoes of Project Jennifer, Colby's public leaking to the Senate, and the Church Commission, to name just three. The most recent director of the CIA, Tenet, was allowed to retain his post after the election even though he was appointed by Clinton in 1996 basically as a stand-in. By allowing Tenet to retain his post into his administration, Bush 43 unwittingly set himself up on two fronts: to drink the wine of bitterness of the Agency's handling by Clinton (via Tenet), and to deal with the sour grapes of anyone at Langley who was opposed to the Bushes, their politics, or to the politics of Republicans in general.

Add to this mess the knowledge that HUMINT has never been all that great, even in the heyday of the Cold War - and that HUMINT gathering in an Islamofascist WWIV is likely to be many orders of magnitude worse.

So if Goss and Negroponte are smart, the two will work together to redefine HUMINT and covert ops, and Negroponte will work with all the TLA's (three letter acronyms) spread out across the political spectrum, to reorganize the Boys in Black so that they do what they are supposed to, rather than what they think they can get away with.

Tall order, I know...

Wanderlust said...

"Informative" about what exactly?