News Release

How Brennan’s CIA Plan Facilitates Future Wars Based on Lies

On Friday afternoon — when stories are frequently put out to avoid scrutiny — a plan by CIA head John Brennan to restructure the agency was made public. Much of the major media portrayed it as a reform to make Americans safer: The New York Times headline read: “CIA to Be Overhauled to Fight Modern Threats.” However, many CIA veterans argue that it is a step toward further politicization of intelligence:

MELVIN GOODMAN, goody789 at verizon.net
Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and the forthcoming The Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at CIA. Goodman is the national security columnist for CounterPunch.org.

He said today of Brennan’s plan: “Simply, it takes the CIA further from Truman’s concept and closer to the ability to politicize intelligence. Operations are part of the policy world and not the intelligence world. The Centers have made it too easy to provide the intelligence that the ‘masters’ desire, whether they are the masters on CIA’s 7th floor or the policy masters. Brennan’s world was the Center for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism, and many of the intelligence errors and operational errors of the past 15 years have emanated from those centers. Organizationally, it makes no sense — what are the directorates of operations and analysis — they sound as if they are HR experts.”

Late last year, Goodman wrote the piece “The Latest Flawed Reorganization Scheme: The Decline of the CIA,” which anticipated and criticized many of Brennan’s proposals. Goodman just wrote the piece “David Petraeus and the Hypocrisies of National Security: The CIA’s Double Standard.”

The following are members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which just released a memo on Brennan’s plan:

RAY McGOVERN, rmcgovern at gmail.com, @raymcgovern
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, whose duties included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates. He now works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

ELIZABETH MURRAY, emurray404 at aol.com, @elizabethmurra
Murray is available for a limited number of interviews. She served as deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis.

McGovern and Murray are among the signers to a just released, posted at ConsortiumNews.com: “U.S. Intel Vets Oppose Brennan’s Plan to Restructure CIA,” which takes the form of a memo to the President: “Mr. President, The CIA reorganization plan announced by Director John Brennan on Friday is a potentially deadly blow to the objective, fact-based intelligence needed to support fully informed decisions on foreign policy. We suggest turning this danger into an opportunity to create an independent entity for CIA intelligence analysis immune from the operational demands of the ‘war on terror.’

“On Feb. 5, 2003, immediately after Colin Powell’s address to the UN, members of VIPS sent our first VIPS memorandum, urging President George W. Bush to widen the policy debate ‘beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.’

“The ‘former senior officers’ whom Brennan asked for input on the restructuring plan are a similar closed, blinkered circle, as is the ‘outstanding group of officers from across the Agency’ picked by Brennan to look at the Agency’s mission and future. He did not include any of the intelligence community dissidents and alumni who fought against the disastrous politicization of intelligence before the attack on Iraq. Nor does Brennan’s plan reflect the lessons learned from that debacle. …

“President Harry Truman wanted an agency structure able to meet a president’s need for ‘the most accurate … information on what’s going on everywhere in the world, and particularly of the trends and developments in all the danger spots.’ In an op-ed appearing in the Washington Post exactly one month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Truman added, ‘I have been disturbed by … the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment … and has become an operational and at times policy-making arm of the Government.’ …

“You are fully aware, we trust, that our analysts’ vaunted ethos of speaking unvarnished truth to power was corrupted by Director George Tenet and Deputy Director John McLaughlin, who outdid themselves in carrying out the instructions of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The new ethos boiled down to this: If the President wants to paint Iraq as a strategic threat, it is our job to come up with the ‘evidence’ — even if it needs to be manufactured out of whole cloth (or forged, as in ‘yellowcake uranium from Africa’ caper). …

“There is hope to be drawn from those occasions where senior intelligence officials with integrity can step in, show courageous example, and — despite multiple indignities and pitfalls in the system — can force the truth to the surface. We hope that you have been made aware that, after the no-WMD-anywhere debacle on Iraq, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence Thomas Fingar did precisely that during 2007, supervising a watershed National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that concluded unanimously, ‘with high confidence,’ that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003.

“President Bush concedes in his memoir that this put the kibosh on his and Dick Cheney’s earlier plan to attack Iran during their last year in office. So, character (as in Fingar) counts, and people of integrity can make a difference — and even help thwart plans for war — even in the most politicized of circumstances.”