Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Nomination for CIA Director

You have to laugh when Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA during one of the most inept presidencies - Jimmy Carter - has this to say about the nomination of Porter Goss as Director of the CIA.
This is the worst appointment that's ever been made to the office of director of central intelligence because that's an office that needs to be kept above partisan politics.' -- Retired Adm., Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA in the Carter administration.

A good reason WHY Bush should not endorse the 9/11 Commission recommendations on intelligence or listen to Turner, in Turner's own words:
The same presidential executive order could give the NID the authority to set the budgets for all 15 agencies, to reallocate funds and people among them, and to set priorities for both collecting and analyzing intelligence, thus implementing the intent of the 1947 law. President Jimmy Carter gave me, as his DCI, that authority. This enabled a far greater degree of coordination than we have today.

It also meant failure to predict the rise of Islamofascism in Iran, a legacy we are now facing.

Edward Jay Epstein on how Turner eviscerated the intelligence gathering capacity of the CIA.
In the summer of 1977, after setting in motion a plan to eliminate 820 positions in the espionage branch (and notifying the affected case officers by a computerized form letter), Turner reported to President Carter that "the espionage branch was [now] being run ethically and soundly.

The result was a new CIA.
The new role Turner proposed for the espionage service was determining, through polling techniques, public-opinion trends in such countries as the Soviet Union, Iran, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina. As he explains: "The espionage branch is the ideal instrument . . . for uncovering such trends, even if doing so is almost an overt activity." Specifically, he suggested "using either undercover case officers or agents," with ,, the polling skill of George Gallup," to "take the pulse of a foreign country."

Intelligence failures including over-reliance on gathering data date from Turner's days at the CIA.
In any case, Turner offered his poll-taking idea only as a sop. His real design for the CIA involved effectively abolishing espionage, except as an ad hoc supplement in certain prescribed circumstances, and replacing it with "technical collection," which is information gathered by electronic and image interceptors in satellites, ships in international waters, and other remotely-based platforms.

Rohan Gunaratna on Turner (Question 33):
I was a foreign-policy fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland. My faculty adviser was Stanfield Turner. I love the man. I respect him because he’s an honest man. But the only disagreement I ever had with him was why he got rid of various clandestine programs when he was director of operations in the CIA. He later realized what he did was a mistake. America lost its eyes and ears.

Now Turner wants to advise president Bush on how to reform intelligence gathering.
Go figure.

UPDATE: Reuters quoting Michael Moore on Porter Goss. Excuse me while I laugh outloud.

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