"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Analysis: CIA dismay at Porter Goss' nomination as DCIA

Posted August 11, 2004

By Richard Sale

President George W. Bush has nominated Rep. Porter Goss as new CIA director, a proposal which has so far caused little rejoicing at the agency, according to several serving and former agents interviewed by United Press International.

During an announcement made in the White House Rose Garden, Bush described Goss, 65, a Florida Republican as "the right man with strong experience in intelligence and in fighting against terrorism."

This was immediately disputed by two former senior agents.

"When was he in the CIA?" asked former top CIA Iraq analyst Judith Yaphe of Goss's agency career.

When told that Goss had been a case officer from the mid-1960s until 1971, dealing with Latin America, Yaphe said: "But that is so long ago. It's not as if the cultures at the agency now were anywhere near what they were back then. I would worry about his genuine depth of knowledge."

Yaphe said weeks ago Goss deliberately made statements that undercut Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, adding, "John is a decent, well-meaning man, and Goss really screwed him."

Goss did not return phone calls. [But President Bush while in Florida Aug. 10 praised the Floridian as a man of honor and a good representative from the Sunshine state that would not only help reform the CIA but also boost the GOP.]

Former CIA agent Larry Johnson also questioned Goss's qualifications. "There is one thing Goss didn't really do for the last several years -- he didn't chair the House Intelligence Committee, in spite of what his resume claims," said Johnson. "Instead, he did the dead man's float."

Johnson said Goss did not have the experience claimed. Goss did not "push through real reforms, for example, getting more funding for badly clandestine assets. He didn't do any of it."

Former CIA Counter-terrorism Chief Vince Cannistraro agreed: "Goss has never been very distinguished, but he's protected. He's a Bush loyalist and has been in the forefront of those who have tried to place the major blame for the 9/11 attacks on the agency."

But several serving intelligence sources said Goss and other Bush advocates are ignoring the degree of internal CIA opposition to such mistakes as the inclusion in the State of the Union address of allegations that Niger was attempting to sell uranium to Iraq, disowned by many agency and State Department analysts long before the speech.

For example, a congressional investigative memo -- confirmed by agency sources -- is strongly critical of Robert Walpole who, as the agency's national intelligence officer for proliferation, played a key role in promoting the bogus claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in October 2002.

According to a congressional document, when the experts from the CIA's Office of Directorate of Intelligence, especially the Weapons Inspection and Proliferation and Arms Control, or WINPAC, began to dispute Walpole's claims, getting support from technical experts assigned to it from the agency's director of science and technology, Walpole simply bypassed them.

Walpole had a close relationship with Robert Joseph on the National Security Council staff who held the same hard-line views, congressional sources said.

According to the document, Joseph was a key advocate of putting the Niger allegations into the speech and succeeded -- aided by Walpole.

Walpole also did not return phone calls.

The normal practice in writing a first draft of an national intelligence estimate -- a policy finding that must be in place before action can be taken -- is to assign it to someone at WINPAC in the directorate of intelligence. Walpole skirted experts in his own agency and went over to a hard-line deputy NIO at the Defense Intelligence Agency, a person known to be hawkish and close to the neo-conservatives, the document said.

A former senior CIA official said, "Anyone in the DIA opposed to the views of the hawks had either been forced out or they had quit in disgust."

"Everyone, including Goss, was aware that within the agency, among the lower or technical levels," there was intense opposition to including the Niger allegations in the State of the Union address, a former very senior CIA official said.

"Goss took no stand at all, provided no support," a former senior CIA operative said.

Congress is, at this moment, attempting to call as witnesses CIA GS-9s and GS-10s who signed off on documents that branded the Niger allegations as false and based on forgeries, congressional sources said.

Goss was born in Connecticut, graduating from Yale in 1960, according to his office bio. He went to work for U.S. Army intelligence and after two years, moved to the CIA. He left the agency in 1971, was active in business, and in 1989 was elected to Congress where he has remained. He is currently chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the bio says.

Goss's appointment comes at an awkward time. His nomination, which must be approved by the Senate, comes as Bush is expected to act on a number of executive orders for intelligence reform recommendations from the commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks.

Yaphe, who thinks Goss would be too partisan said: "This whole appointment is a cheap political trick. One of the recommendations of the commission is that no political appointee be made director. But this is so clearly political. If Goss isn't a political appointee, than I don't know what is."

The aging CIA is badly in need of streamlining and reforms, according to more than a half a dozen serving and former agency officials interviewed by UPI.

The sharpest criticisms centers on faulty analysis, too many layers of bureaucracy, too much movement between "accounts" or assignments, and too many managers.

But will Goss's appointment forward these aims? Yaphe makes this prediction: "This will do nothing but cause more disarray at Langley."

Richard Sale is the Intelligence Correspondent for UPI, a sister news agency of Insight.

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Milton Frihetsson, 04:14


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