Monday, June 14, 2004

Uncivil War

This lead article at Salon, an interview with Thomas Powers, offers the most plausible reason for Tenet's resignation/firing/whichever-it-was to date:

Powers thinks one possibility is that the CIA director may have been forced out after Pentagon officials, enraged by the Chalabi debacle, pressured Bush to get rid of him.
But that's later in the article. Powers sets up this argument by noting:

The bitterest dispute, though not the only one, is between the CIA and the Pentagon, whose own secret intelligence unit, the Office of Special Plans, aggressively promoted the war on Iraq. While departing CIA Director George Tenet played along with the Bush administration -- a fact which Powers says reveals the urgent need for a truly independent intelligence chief -- much of the agency is enraged at the Pentagon, which put intense pressure on it to produce reports tailored to the policy goals of the Bush White House. The simmering tensions between the Pentagon, with its troika of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, and rank and file CIA personnel boiled over in July 2003, when the White House trashed the career of veteran CIA operative Valerie Plame by leaking her identity. The move was a crude retaliation against Plame's husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had exposed the Bush administration's specious claim that Saddam had sought "yellowcake" from Africa to build a nuclear bomb.

The struggle between the CIA and the Defense Department reached a bizarre climax a few weeks ago when Ahmed Chalabi's office was very publicly ransacked by officers working under the command of the CIA; the Iraqi exile leader was later accused of leaking vital information to Iran, among other allegations. The abrupt fall from grace of the man hand-picked by neoconservative policymakers to lead post-Saddam Iraq, says Powers, lays bare the brutal turf war between the two sides.

"It reveals an extraordinary level of bitter combat between the CIA and the Pentagon. It's astonishing that the CIA actually oversaw a team of people who broke into Chalabi's headquarters -- which was paid for by the Pentagon -- and ransacked the place. The CIA single-handedly destroyed him."
And the next observation reinforces what seems to be common sense:

The collapse of U.S. intelligence and the arrogance and extremism at the top of the Bush administration are also at the root of the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, Powers says. With U.S. troops facing a mounting insurgency from an enemy they couldn't find, Powers believes Bush officials signed off on a systematic policy of hardcore interrogation in a frantic attempt to deal with the problem. He says that while it's unlikely Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave specific orders as to what type of abuse should be meted out to the Iraqi prisoners, there is strong reason to believe Rumsfeld "issued blanket permission for them to turn up the heat."
...Not to mention those insistent claims of WMD that David Kay now considers a "delusional."

Go read the article. The ad this time isn't one of those infomercials. Powers has some inflammable things to say about one of our allies which will surely make our current foreign policy ala torture even more destabilizing, and you can check out information on Sibel Edmonds posted there as well.