On the Value and Need for "Intelligence"
Question for the group, asked in honest and open-minded interest:
What "good in the world" can the CIA claim? What, specifically, has it done that makes America safer, and/or the world a better place?
There's a lot of chatter about Obama's pick of Brennan, of whom I don't really know that much, and his experience and position on the use of torture as a valid interrogation technique. I'll leave aside that argument for now (except to say it still shocks me we even have an "arugment" about it, feh) and wonder instead about what we need, what we have and don't have, and what we might and should have, in our premier intelligence agency.
I can run down a pretty long list of CIA failures. Just off the top of my head, they were totally wrong predicting the timing and reasons for the collapse of the USSR; they propped up torturing dictators in South and Central America; they failed to provide anything useful in the criminally misguided effort in Vietnam; they've covered for drug lords and murderers and Nazis, allowing them to go unpunished and even rewarded for their crimes; Osama Bin who?; WMD and Iraq...really, it's sort of like shooting fish in a barrel.
So I have a hard time understanding why some people on the left would bother to defend practically anything or anyone associated with today's CIA. Especially after what I imagine to be the usual contamination with cronies and criminals that has been the hallmark of the Bush administration's treatment of virtually every government agency. Via CQPolitics, comes this little gem which more or less sums up how I feel about the Agency today:
"Almost anyone working at the agency since [Sept. 11] is tainted," says retired CIA veteran Milt Bearden, a former Pakistan station chief, expressing the facts of life.
"If he wants experience, get an old-timer who left before that. Or go with a completely new face, maybe someone like a [Richard] Holbrooke, though I doubt he'd take it."
I know some people who've worked in intelligence, and I'm not trying to paint with an overly large brush. I understand there is a difference between the Directorates of operations and intelligence, the people who work in them, and what they do. I know that there really are Bad Guys in the world who are on a mission to hurt and kill Americans for all the wrong reasons, and that it makes sense of a nation like ours to have eyes and ears in dangerous places, the better to anticipate groups who would bring another 9-11 to our shores.
But I'm also always most interested in results. So I'm asking: are there any that CIA can point to, and recently, that would convince a progressive like me that CIA is not in need of massive housecleaning and investigation? My mind is truly open on this, if anyone wants to step up and defend them.