Hey C.I.A.: Change, or Perish

Oh goodie … more ankle-biters criticizing President Bush’s lack of reverence for the foreign policy status-quo.

The CIA is, by all available evidence, composed mostly of thin-skinned people who like to shout from the rooftops that they tried so very hard to preserve the murderous dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Not something that I would take great pains to publish; but hey, takes all kinds.

Their general sentiment seems to be, more or less, “we analyzed our analysis and our paralysis, and after consulting with consultants and combing through our electronic intel — we had no agents on the ground, you know — we produced reports out the yin-yang on all this stuff, but Bush didn’t use it to change his mind. So, ipso fatso, he’s wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!!”

What is always missing from these self-congratulatory missives is anything that even approaches a sense of skepticism about their own ability to provide reliable strategic analysis in the past. I’ve read elsewhere that the CIA has gotten some very big things very, very wrong. To pick just the two most egregious and well-known ones, the CIA (1) failed to predict the breakup of the Soviet Union and the resulting end of the Cold War, or (2) the rise of fundamentalism in Iran, Lebanon, and numerous other Godforsaken lands, and the impact of the resulting terrorism. These are sort of big things to miss, when your job is to know where other countries are going, no?

Color me unimpressed.

Also missing is any sense of proportion in the offered criticisms vs. the scope of the Bush plan to democratize the Middle East. Every plan has weaknesses and complications; pointing them out three years later is not helpful. Especially when all you have to do is follow the news to know that Iraq today is a much different place than it was even 6 months ago. A constitution that guarantees many of the same freedoms to Iraqis that U.S. citizens enjoy. A vibrant free press. Free elections with extremely high rates of participation. Sunni acceptance of a unified political landscape. And, most important perhaps, even those few Iraqis who used to support the insurgents are now growing weary of them.

Yet, we continue to be subjected to the whining and self-promoting of those whose feelings have been hurt because Bush had the gall to ignore them. For them I have only two words: mass graves.

Just once I’d like to hear one of these ankle-biting risk-averse self-important bureaucrats acknowledge what is becoming blindingly obvious to some of us out here in the real world: the CIA is old and in the way.

We don’t need you to keep pointing it out for us, though.


  • Thomas Jocelyn notes serious errors made by Pillar in the past.
  • Dan Darling: “Kind of rich for somebody who’s been the ultimate anonymous source at the CIA to start complaining now about politicized intelligence.” Also, he notes that Pillar wants more indpendence for the CIA – perhaps the CIA would like its own sovereign nation?
  • Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard dismisses Pillar’s analysis as tainted by a refusal to recognize state sponsorship of terrorism.

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