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Friday, August 13, 2004

The Goss Nomination

The New York Sun

The Goss Nomination

August 12, 2004

President Bush's choice to be director of central intelligence, Rep. PorterGoss, a Republican of Florida who was chairman of the House Permanent SelectCommittee on Intelligence, has shown precious little evidence so far ofbeing the right man for the job.Some say that Mr. Goss, a former CIA officer, is too close to the CIA toperform the shake-up that the agency badly needs. "He's part of a failedculture," the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Ledeen told our LuizaSavage. AEI's Reuel Marc Gerecht,who has been sounding the alarm about theCIA's failures since the publication of his 1997 book "Know ThineEnemy,"derides Mr.Goss as "a water-carrier for the CIA." This isn'tcriticism coming from the anti-CIA hard left, but from men who understandthat America is in a war in which a capable CIA with strongintelligence-gathering and analytic capabilities could be a formidableasset.Mr. Goss's worst policy error was to deride the Iraqi National Congress andits leader, Ahmad Chalabi. Had America listened to Mr. Chalabi's adviceabout the importance of Iraqi participation in the liberation of Iraq andthe need for postwar planning, the current difficulties for American troopsin Iraq could have been avoided. But Mr. Goss disparaged Iraqis who riskedtheir lives to fight Saddam. "It's unspeakable to me that we would beputting any money in the pockets of expatriates who are talking aboutrevolution in the comfortable capitals of Western Europe. Every time you dothat, all the bootmakers and suit-makers in London just cheer," Mr. Gosstold USA Today in 1999. Amid the anonymous and so far unproven smears thisspring of Mr. Chalabi as a leaker of American secrets to the Iranians, Mr.Goss declined to defend the Iraqi patriot, telling USA Today, "I have beenaccurate in my assessment of Chalabi over the years. The thing I admire mostabout him is his tailor."This isn't merely about Mr. Chalabi but a whole CIA culture that deridedShiite Muslims and democrats and took information provided bynon-democratic, Sunni American "friends" in Jordan or Saudi Arabia asgospel.As chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mr. Goss was in charge ofcongressional oversight of the intelligence community. The report of theNational Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States concludedthat the oversight was largely a failure.Mr. Goss's signal achievement on the personnel management front was hiring achief of staff for the House intelligence committee who wound up a sordidsuicide.Recently, and conveniently, Mr. Goss has refashioned himself as one of theCIA's harshest critics. His committee's most recent intelligenceauthorization report includes a scathing critique of the agency's humanintelligence collection efforts. "For too long the CIA has been ignoring itscore mission activities.There is a dysfunctional denial of any need forcorrective action," reads the report. "After years of trying to convince,suggest, urge, entice, cajole, and pressure CIA to make wide-reachingchanges to the way it conducts its HUMINT mission, however, CIA, in theCommittee's view, continues down a road leading over a proverbial cliff."If he's to have any chance of success in the director's job, he will have tokeep in mind the need for corrective action -- both at the agency and in thecourse he himself has chosen.


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