Minor Thoughts from me to you

Burn the CIA to the Ground

In From the Cold: Worth Saving?

The assessment, which was requested by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), has been sitting on the shelf for more than two years, and the agency vigorously fought to prevent its release. The current CIA Director, Air Force General Mike Hayden, claims that release of the report could be "distracting."

If there's any good news in the executive summary, here it is: As far as the IG can determine, CIA employees broke no laws in their counter-terrorism activities before 9-11. The bad news? The agency's efforts in the years before the attacks were characterized by bureaucratic incompetence and bungling on a scale that is almost unimaginable.

Apparently, bin Laden and his Al Qaida operatives had little to fear from the CIA; as the IG discovered, the agency was beset by ineffective leadership, serious resource shortfalls, squabbles with other agencies, and the lack of a viable plan for analyzing--and combating--the terrorist organization, among other problems. Describing the agency as an intelligence calamity waiting to happen would be charitable.

The stunning, substantive details of those failures are well-documented in the summary, suggesting that the CIA was adrift, rudderless and unaccountable in the years leading up to 9-11. Mr. Tenet steadfastly maintains that he had a plan to counter Al Qaida, but (according to the IG), that plan was never effectively communicated or implemented within the agency. Analysis of the terrorist organization was slipshod; prior to the 9-11 attacks, the CIA's last major assessment on bin Laden was completed in 1993.

Perhaps the most damning aspect of the IG summary is its recommendation for Accountability Boards to review the performance of (a) the former DCI, Mr. Tenet; (b) the CIA Executive Director in the late 1990s; (c) the Deputy Director of Operations (DDO) and (d) the two senior officers who served as Director of the CTC during the same period. In other words, the IG is inferring that CIA management--at the organization's highest levels--failed miserably at their responsibilities in going after Al Qaida, and should be held accountable for their desultory performance.

Seriously. Burn the CIA to the ground. Fire everyone there. Close down and blow up the building. Hire new intelligence people. Allow former employees to reapply, but they start the interview process with two strikes against them. Would we get a lot of new, raw employees that are unfamiliar with gathering intelligence? Sure. Could they be any worse than the current CIA, though? Hard to imagine.