Glasnost at the CIA
General Hayden, current Director of the CIA
One of the things we knew to expect when Barack Obama was elected was change, a new and open era of government. Most citizens will welcome a new tone, but there are some facets of government, that can’t been overseen with an eye to party politics; the intelligence community. A transparent economic sector, transportation sector and health department will all be beneficial, but to lay open our intelligence community for all to see sounds like a reversal rather than any forward movement.
Due to it’s shadowy nature, the CIA has always been a scapegoat for the worlds ills. True, the agency has always been in the planet’s hot spots, but that’s what they do, gather intelligence about bad places and bad people. By installing a Director with no intelligence experience should give one pause. Not to those in the majority who think someone else should be appointed for political reasons, but those who have an understanding of the axiom, “loose lips sink ships”. Getting rid of the current Director, who has over 30 experience in the intelligence community, and led the lesser known NSA prior to heading up Langley, can only be driven by politics.
General Hayden, who is being removed as Director, served both the Clinton and Bush administrations admirably and apolitically. To remove him now for political reasons could turn out to be one of President Obama’s first gaffes. Indeed, one of the reasons for his appointment was his perceived ability to get through the Senate confirmation process. Leon Panetta served an administration that wasn’t known for its intelligence discretion, nor is the Bush Administration. To be fair, intelligence is a tempting fruit for politicians, but this column feels that General Hayden’s successor should not a political creature. The current Director has never demonstrated any partisanship, and should be asked to continue his tenure.
The political direction promised by the incoming administration heralds a change in mission and policy at the CIA, as well. Some of the directions mentioned were, A larger and more open press department, monitoring countries’ carbon emissions and watch for violations of environmental regulations. Still another was a Human Rights division. This is another issue that can arise from making our intelligence community of a party controlled apparatus. CIA employees should be looking for and gathering intelligence on terrorists, narco-traffickers, and weapons proliferation; there are already enough agencies and NGOs engaged environmental monitoring at taxpayer expense and through the largess of charity. Why, then, change their mission? Installing a political ally into what should be the most “un-political” position, seems like shortsightedness, and taking our eye off the ball. Further, a more open, and accessible intelligence agency, can only embolden countries who already have an expressed a desire to harm to America, regardless of who is leading her.
Smart government means making smart choices, and it is the opinion of this column, that replacing 30 years of intelligence management with someone who is politically reliable will not be one of the incoming President’s smart choices.