Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Do the "Goss Man"

Porter Goss is wasting no time on instituting his changes to the CIA. I want to go on record as saying that there definitely needs to be some overhaul of how the Agency does its work. But I don't think Goss is the man for the job and his "purge" is probably a big step in the wrong direction. I'm not a big policy wonk when it comes to intelligence reform, so you can just call this bullshit and I'd be fine with that. It seems, however, that the major need of reform stems from the fact that we don't have the trained personell to acquire that...what is it called...intelligence. How many Arab men does the Agency have infiltrating al Qaeda so that we can get advanced warning of attacks and learn about their leadership structure? Obviously that's a big secret, but I'm willing to bet it's not many. We hear about terrorist chatter, not about specific threats from informants within the group. The NY Times obtained a copy of a memo written by Goss in which he writes "As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies." That's a little creepy to me. So are these grafs further down:

In interviews this week, members of Congress as well as current and former intelligence officials said one reason the overhaul under way had left them unnerved was that Mr. Goss had not made clear what kind of agency he intended to put in place. But Mr. Goss's memorandum did little to spell out that vision, and it did not make clear why the focus of overhaul efforts to date appeared to be on the operations directorate, which carries out spying and other covert missions around the world.

"It's just very hard to divine what's going on over there,'' said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, who said he and other members of the Senate intelligence committee would be seeking answers at closed sessions this week. "But on issue after issue, there's a real question about whether the country and the Congress are going to get an unvarnished picture of our intelligence situation at a critical time.''

I think there is reason to worry. I don't want to get all conspiracy theory on you, but I don't think Goss is the right guy at the right time. I think he really is more worried about leaks that could damage the Bush White House than about a serious reform of the Intelligence structure, which is why he has not really indicated what exactly he plans to do.

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