Obama Searches In Vain For CIA Director Who Won’t Offend Left

Obama’s first (and as of now only) pick for the Director of Central Intelligence bowed out of the process after the left tore into him as a “torturer.”  Apparently, John Brennan didn’t want the job badly enough to put up with the typical left-wing character assassination tactics.

Bill O’Reilly was on the radio yesterday pointing out that Obama may have a tough time finding a good DCI. Given the left’s hatred for “intelligence” and “interrogations” and many of the other things this country needs in order to keep itself safe from terrorist attacks, and given the appointment of Eric Holder for Attorney General, many candidates might well fear that they would have to choose between either protecting the country or staying out of jail.

The Star Tribune writes:

Finding a candidate for CIA chief who has the operational experience and is politically “clean” will be difficult, agreed a current senior intelligence official.

John Radsan, a former assistant general counsel at the CIA, said Obama has to strike a difficult balance.

“They need somebody who rose to the level of a division chief in the clandestine service but didn’t spend too much time” with former CIA directors George Tenet and Porter Goss and current director Michael Hayden.

“But in the senior ranks you can’t escape the reality that the CIA is associated with controversial practices since 9/11,” Radsan said.

Brennan served as Tenet’s chief of staff from 1999 to 2001 and as deputy executive director of the CIA from 2001 to 2003, as the interrogation and rendition program was created.

Scott Horton, a Hofstra University law professor who has worked with the Senate Judiciary Committee on the CIA’s interrogation and detention program, said he believes Congress would take a firm line against anyone closely associated with the agency’s harsher policies. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, tapped to head the Senate Intelligence Committee, opposes the CIA’s interrogation program and will play a key role in confirming Obama’s pick.

“Brennan knew it was going to be messy,” Horton told The Associated Press.

But while Obama has clearly articulated and supported many of the liberal positions regarding these issues, Obama suddenly finds himself in the position of where the rubber meets the road.

Here’s Obama’s petard from which to dangle: if he does anything to undermine the Bush policies that protected us from terrorist attacks in the aftermath of 9/11 (the Patriot Act, domestic surveillance of international calls from suspected terrorists, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and yes, harsh interrogation tactics such as waterboarding) and the United States is subsequently attacked again, he’s political road kill.  But how can he support such policies given his previous public positions?  And how can he avoid the understandable outrage of his base who will justifiably feel betrayed if he affirms the basic Bush positions?

Meanwhile, we have revelations such as this one:

Study: WMD Attack In U.S. Likely By 2013
Commission Report Says A Nuclear Or Biological Attack Should Be Expected Within Five Years
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2008

(CBS/AP) The United States can expect a terror attack using nuclear or more likely biological weapons before 2013, reports a bipartisan commission in a study briefed Tuesday to Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

It suggests that the Obama administration bolster efforts to counter and prepare for germ warfare by terrorists.

“Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing,” states the report, obtained by The Associated Press. It is scheduled to be publicly released Wednesday.

And, of course, that report immediately following a terrorist attack in India in which nearly two hundred people were murdered, and in which Jews and Americans were specifically targeted.

Democrats attacked Bush Attorney General appointee Michael Mukasey and pressured him to denounce waterboarding as a legally permissible interrogation technique under any circumstances (whereas Obama has found an attorney general who is as willing to condemn enhanced interrogation as he was to support the pardon for convicted millionaire tax frauds).  Just as Democrats have now destroyed John Brennan simply because he didn’t come out forcefully enough against it to suit them.

But here’s a newsflash: waterboarding works.  I will make anyone who wants to take me up on it a bet: say the information is your social security number.  You try to mine from me by being nice, and becoming my friend, and giving me candy.  I’ll try to get yours from you by waterboarding you until you either tell me or you grow a pair of gills.  I bet you I’ll get your social security number from you, and you’ll never, ever, ever get mine from me.  Take me up on the bet.  As Inspector Hally Callahan once said, “Go ahead.  Make my day.”

We used waterboarding on three suspects.  You can’t exactly say we went nuts over the sheer pleasure of waterboarding.  And it worked every time.  We broke them.  They talked.  Hardened men who despised us and everything we stood for suddenly sang like jaybirds.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed broke and named at least six major terrorists as a direct result of waterboarding.  And as a result of the information that he provided, the US was able to go after other high level sources, and then use those sources to go after still others.

Now, let me provide you with the previous Democratic administration’s “alternative” approach:

[Zacarias] Moussaoui entered the United States in February 2000 and enrolled in the same Oklahoma flight school Murad had attended. After flunking out in Oklahoma, he resumed lessons on flight simulators in Eagan, Minnesota, where his eccentric behavior aroused suspicions. The F.B.I. detained him on immigration charges on August 17. Among his possessions, they discovered a laptop computer.

Eager to examine the computer, Minneapolis F.B.I. agents repeatedly requested a special warrant to examine Moussaoui’s computer, and bureau attorneys in Washington repeatedly denied their requests, claiming there was insufficient evidence. The special court that reviews warrants covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has approved more than 12,000 Justice Department applications for covert search warrants and wiretaps and rejected only one since the act was passed in 1978.

Coleen Rowley      After the 9/11 attacks, F.B.I. agent Coleen Rowley, general counsel in the Minneapolis field office, wrote a scorching 13-page open letter to F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller III and the Senate Intelligence Committee. She asserted that the French government had shared ample intelligence on Moussaoui, including information on his links to Osama bin Laden, information that supported requests for a special surveillance warrant to search Moussaoui’s laptop computer in the weeks before the terrorist attacks. (The French, who had put Moussaoui on a watch list in 1999 because they suspected him of terrorist activities, insisted that they had shared their thick dossier with American intelligence agencies.) Rowley said some field agents were so frustrated that they joked about spies and moles for bin Laden working at Washington headquarters.

A Time Magazine story confirms the above account.

That laptop computer belonging to 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui contained enough names, account numbers, and information to have prevented the 9/11 terror attacks had it been immediately accessed.  But we decided that it was preferable to allow Moussaoui’s 19 terrorist pals to murder 3000 American citizens rather than risk violating his “privacy rights.”

And I hate to tell you, but we’re returning to that old position.

My view?  I wish we had acquainted Zacarias Moussaoui with the creative use of an incline board and a garden hose, and started asking him some questions.

Given the documented likelihood of a terrorist attack on American soil using weapons of mass destruction – again citing Inspector Harry Callahan – “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?”

“Well, do ya, punk?”

If you feel lucky, you might well side with Democrats.  You be opposed to any kind of “profiling.”  You’ll be outraged over the thought that the government would actually listen to calls coming into the United States from suspected terrorists overseas.  You will become totally unglued over the thought that we would be so barbaric as to waterboard terrorists, or hold them against their will at a place like Gitmo.

If you don’t feel quite so lucky, you’ll realize that we could very well find ourselves in a situation where we detain a terrorist suspect, and need to find out what he knows while the clock ticks down to the launching of a WMD-attack that will leave hundreds of thousands or more Americans dead.  And you count on your government to protect you by forcing that homicidal S.O.B. to talk before his friends murder you and your entire extended family.

Based on the results of November 4, we’re feeling pretty darn lucky.  You would never elect Democrats to have total control over your protection if you weren’t.

Now all we can do is hope that Barack Obama looks at the intelligence information detailing the threats against this country, faints out of sheer terror, regains consciousness, and proceeds to break virtually every single one of his foreign policy campaign promises in order to actually protect this country from violent people who hate it with a psychotic passion.  We have to hope that Obama realizes that one attack – given the fact that Bush protected us – will likely spell his political demise as an outraged country repudiates both his leadership and the Democratic Party that put him in power, and that he will take appropriate steps to fulfill his foremost role as President and protect this country.

And, yeah, given who we’ve chosen to protect us, and given the events of just the last week (e.g. the Mumbai terror attacks, and the official report predicting a major WMD terror attack on US soil), we’re going to need to be lucky.

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2 Responses to “Obama Searches In Vain For CIA Director Who Won’t Offend Left”

  1. Thomas Bassam Says:

    Being a veteran Intelligence officer, I am afraid to say that I totally disagree with Michael Eden’s article.
    A good solid intelligence is not based on LUCK or lack of it. Rather, it is based on the honesty and professionalism of the agency officers in the fields and the CIA management in washington to keep politics out of intelligence and report the facts to the policy makers as they are.
    Having said that, now I will attempt to briefly mention some of the points which caused the CIA’s failure in recent years, the way I saw them and I would let the authorities to be the judge in their selection of the Director of CIA.
    Some big changes are definately needed to take place in the agency. These changes will not take place traditionally if any of the present and past senior managers of the CIA is appointed as the Director of the agency. Such appointment will most probably disappoint the American Nation and President Elect Obama.
    The changes which need to take place are basically, in two directorates within the agency. Directorate of Operation and Directorate of Intelligence.
    Following are the areas which need to change radically for improvement:

    Before deploying the Operation Officers to the fields to perform their duties as intelligence officers, make sure they have practcal knowlege of the foreign language and they know how to use it to accomplish their mission rather than getting an academic score of three so that they start receiving language financial bonuses and making the CIA language college look good. (Teaching a foreign language to an adult takes a much longer time than what the agency offers to its officers. In most cases the agency does not even provide any cultural training of the target countries. But still anybody going through a few months of language training, he or she will become a SPECIALIST or EXPERT for that target country and he/she is immediately deployed to the field.
    Lack of adequate language training and cultural understanding will normally misleads the field officers in conducting their duties which are, spotting, assessing, developing and more importantly briefing and debriefing their sources and reporting their intelligence accurately). ( I have witnessed so many cases where the limited foreign language knowlege of our field officers has caused not only some misunderstanding and problems between the field officers and their source, but resuting in producing false intelligence. I also recall a few years ago during a liaison meeting with an ex-KGB operation officer in an East bloc country, he mentioned that he spent five years under student cover, living and learning the language of an unspecified third country before he was assigned by KGB to work against that country).

    Provide field officers with appropriate covers in the field and allow them live their covers. (Let the officers with commercial cover conduct real business rather than making contacts and only talk about business but no actions. Let the officer whose cover is a radical moslem spend months and years to establish himself and attend Islamic prayers and mosques. Let him live in the same kind of enviorments as the other local mosque goers live instead of putting him in a posh villas or 5 star hotel, because his US governent job entitles him to such luxturies. Give him secure means of communications, trust him, let him penetrate the terrorist groups just as John Walker and the other Westerners did.)

    C. DO NOT LET BEAURACRACY TAKE OVER OPERARATION – Let the field officers carry out their missions and do not expect them to be sitting at their desks in an office eight hours a day. An operation officer belongs to the streets and let them be where they belong.(Nowadays, most operation officers in the fields spend most of their time behind the desk to write multi different kind of reports and deal with accountings, personnel matter and so on instead of being out there chasing targets. In old good days, all the beuracracy and paper work was done by field clerks and secretaries for the operation officers).

    D. LIMIT THE OPERATION OFFICERS OVERSEAS ASSIGNMENT TO ONLY ONE OR TWO FIVE TO TEN YEAR TOURS – Unless for security reasons, Let the field officers stay in their assigned countries for several years vs two or three years. Let them establish themself, let them and their cover be recognized by the local authorities and the targets of interest, let them learn and gain practical knowlwge about their assigned country, let them become a real expert in their own fields which will become useful during crisis. (I recall asking the same ex-KGB officer mentioned in para A above, whether he ever worked against any other targets during his career. His response was not in his ten years of service).

    E. STOP USING “NUMBER GAMES” AT THE AGENCY – Unfortunately these days QUANTITY at the agency has taken over QUALITY. Following numbers are essential to evaluate the performance of each operation officer or the CIA manager. For intance for OPS OFFICERS, Number of languages, Number of Tours, Number of recruits, number of intelligence reports, number of temporary assignments and travels, number of etc…….or for the CIA MANAGERS, Number of employees supervised, Number of Recruits his staion has had, Number of operations he has supervised, Number of counterintelligence cases he has handled, Number of liason service contacts, How much budget he has managed, and number of etc…..
    All the numbers above adds to the promotion or not promotion of the CIA officers.

    F. CHANGE THE MODES OPERANDI OF AGENT MEETINGS – As it is a common practice , the agency officers meetings with their sources are on one to one basis. The chances of misunderstanding the source unintentionally or abusing the system intentionally are much higher when one officer meets with a source on one to one basis. When an ops officer returns to his/her desk writing different kind of reports, there is always a chance that the officer might forget an important issue or misunderstand the source because of language limitation or any other possible reasons. Its always safer to have two minds against one. Besides, there are situations where the operation officer might not report or omit some information provided by his source, or even falsify some information in order to make his source and he himself look good. So, we should follow the pattern of some of the foreign country intelligence agencies and even our military and FBI intelligence organizations which assign each of their cases to two operation officers vs one.

    G. STOP USING POLIGRAPH TO VALIDATE SOURCES – In many cultures, specially in the Middle East, the word polygraph implies that a lie is defenitaly said and now that lie is been evaluated by the polygraph machine. This kind of impression causes most Middle Easterns react negatively to this tool.

    H. BE OPEN MINDED AND RESPECT YOUR FOREIGN ORIGIN RESOURCES – If you are previlaged to have a cleared American – Second country staff working for you in your team accept him/her, respect him/her, make him feel like a team member eventhough he/she might not have the same color or accent as yours. In a long run, you will end up winning by using his knowlege and know how about the targets you are working against. Dont resent him/her. He/she normally is not a thread against you. He/she probably is more American than you are, because he/she is not taking being American for granted rather he/she knows he has earned the privilage of being American.

    I – LIMIT DEPENDANCE AND RELIANCE ON SOME OF LIASON SERVICES AND INFORMATION – When it comes to the liason services, not very many of them are trustworthy or reliable, specially if they are from third world countries. Everyone of them have their own agenda and they are in liason relationship with the US for their own personal gains. Whether its financial or political. Most of such liasons are in bed with the bad guys as well. They should not be trusted until their bonafides are truely established. We should stop using their information and sources to mislead our policymakers with WMD type of intelligence in Iraq, or based on their information labling any foreign nationls they have problem with as a terrorist.

    J. EVALUATING AND REVISING OUR ENTIRE DATA BASE – Unfortunately the source of the majority of our information collected and kept in our date basis regarding foreign individuals are either dated or are reported by unreliable individual sources or liason services. We should stop using any information we can not independently verify. Let me expalin this major problem by doing an example: Mr. X in the field meets a foreign national (Mr. Y) on a flight and they exchange some contact information.
    after going to his office, Mr. X sends a message to washington and asks for background information and operational interest about MR. Y. In response Washington quoting an an old message in the data base and tells MR. X, that according to a reliable liason source of country A, Mr. Y served in country A as a diplomat from his country for two years. The message added that Mr.Y worked at his country’s embassy as an economic attache. The message added that according to the same source, Mr. Y was not really an econ officer, but rather he was his own country’s intelligence officer in country A.
    Washington also advises Mr.X that Mr. Y is definately of operational interest and encourages Mr. X and station to persue the lead.
    As soon as Mr. X receives the information and the blessing from washington, immediately a meeting is held at the station and a follow up meeting with MR. Y is planned. Befor you know it Mr. X calls Mr. Y half way around the world and says that he was planning to visit Mr. Y in a few days. Mr. Y who is very hospitable welcomes Mr. X’s visit and the two meet after a long journey by Mr. X. These meetings continue several times and even at one point Mr. X invites Mr. Y and his family to a very expensive trip to a European country. Mr. X is doing an excellent job develong Mr. Y until one day, when Mr. Y was talking to his friend Mr. X, he mentioned the fact that when he was serving in country A, he was approached by the local intelligence service and he was asked to provide them some secret information which he declined and as a result he was ordered by the host country to leave that country short of tour. When Mr. X reports the latest information, Washington drops operational interest on Mr. Y and months of time and thosands of dollar were wasted based on the falls info provided by Country A’s friendly liason service.
    The structure of of the Agency data is based on mostly unverified information and it should be revised and corrected completely. This needs to be done in order to put the agency operations on the right track.

    K. ESTABLISHING A STRONG TARGETTING TEAM FOR EACH COUNTRY OR TARGET – A strong targeting team is needed to study each country and identify the targets of interest in that country or groups of interest independant from any other liason services involvements. Targetting teams must avoid using unverified information and the present unhealthy date bases of the agency for this purpose.

    L: TASKING THE SOURCES BASED TO THEIR ACCESS AND NOT BASED ON THE AGENCY’S NEEDS – Every source has access to limited areas. The Directorate of Intelligence must clearly undersatand the access of each source and avoid asking questions which the source does not have access to. In some cultures, there are some people who would never say “I dont know”. By asking the wrong question, we put ourselves in a position of receiving faslse information. And if we start tasking the source to provide us some inormation he does not have access to, we might jeoperdize both the operation and the source’s life.

    conclusion: If one asks the intelligence authorities today about any of the points mentioned above, they will defend themselves by saying they have always followed the steps above and there is nothing new mentioned here. My response is on paper maybe, but not in practice.
    What Agency needs is a skillful experienced manager. Someone not necessarly with background of intelligence, however, he/she must be people oriented, and a good chess player who knows how to use his men and in what position. He should not follow the business as before. There are quiet few intelligent operation officers who are in this line of work. They are talented and operationally gifted, but they are not politicians. They dont have the ambition to serve on the 7th floor of the agency, but they are dedicated and mission oriented and they are willing to sacrifice for the Agency. put some of these senior operation officers in a team and let a qualified team leader to support them as the Director of CIA.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Thomas says, “Being a veteran Intelligence officer, I am afraid to say that I totally disagree with Michael Eden’s article.” And then he proceeds to waste thousands of words explaining everything under the sun but WHY he ‘totally disagrees’ with my article – which for the most part was a simple statement of fact. In fact, to this day Obama has yet to appoint a CIA Director, and the reason is that it’s kind of hard to find a guy who understands intelligence but who won’t offend the left.

    I can see the President asking someone like Thomas to provide a list of the gravest security threats facing the nation, and getting something like this submitted instead.

    Ordinarily, I’d question whether Thomas was actually an intelligence officer at all (do you have any idea how many wannabes try to pass themselves off as Delta operators and Green Berets and SEALs and CIA officers every nanosecond?). But this comment is so convoluted and irrelevant to what should have been its actual purpose that I would actually have to conclude that Thomas must indeed be the real deal.

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