17 November 2008

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?

Within the euphoria of Obama's win, we'll hopefully be able to keep the pressure on for authentic change. Obama has been making a lot of overtures to Clinton and others in an attempt to be inclusive. Hopefully, he'll keep in mind that he won the election precisely because most people didn't want to include any of the current cast of clowns in our future government. Especially upsetting is the notion that Gates should be retained. The ever-insightful Bob Parry explains the problem with this choice in a recent article on Consortium News:

During a campaign interview with the Washington Post, Obama said, “I have been troubled by … the politicization of intelligence in this administration.” But it was Gates – as a senior CIA official in the 1980s – who broke the back of the CIA analytical division’s commitment to objective intelligence.

In a recent book, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman identifies Gates as the chief action officer for the Reagan administration’s drive to tailor intelligence reporting to White House political desires. A top “Kremlinologist,” Goodman describes how Gates reversed a CIA tradition of delivering tough-minded intelligence reports with “the bark on.”

That ethos began to erode in 1973 – with President Richard Nixon’s appointment of James Schlesinger as CIA director and Gerald Ford’s choice of George H.W. Bush in 1976 – but the principle of objectivity wasn’t swept away until 1981 when Ronald Reagan put in his campaign chief, William Casey, as CIA director.

Casey then chose the young and ambitious Robert Gates to run the analytical division. Rather than respect the old mandate for “bark on” intelligence, “Bob Gates turned that approach on its head in the 1980s and tried hard to anticipate the views of policymakers in order to pander to their needs,” Goodman wrote.

“Gates consistently told his analysts to make sure never to ‘stick your finger in the eye of the policymaker.’”

It didn’t take long for the winds of politicization to blow through the halls of CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia.

“Bill Casey and Bob Gates guided the first institutionalized ‘cooking of the books’ at the CIA in the 1980s, with a particular emphasis on tailoring intelligence dealing with the Soviet Union, Central America, and Southwest Asia,” Goodman wrote.

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