SIXTH COLUMN

"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Should a Military Man Head CIA?

The CIA has become: bloated, incestuous, stagnate, ineffective, self-serving, xenophobic, highly partisan, political, dysfunctional, subversive,
morally corrupt, compromised by moles, bizarre behavior, enslaved by group think, thinking inside the box. This sounds like the typical bureaucracy, but not the type of institution that can be effective as an intelligence-gathering institution.

"The General and the Agency"
by Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu

If General William “Wild Bill” Donovan were alive today, as Yogi Berra might say, he’d be turning over in his grave. Not allow a military man to head CIA? How ridiculous, considering that a military man – Donovan himself – birthed Central Intelligence. Donovan, a transplanted New York City attorney originally from Buffalo, was a Medal of Honor winner from the Great War (World War I) who founded the outstanding legal firm of Donovan Leisure between the wars. Typical of the Northeast elite of the day – in contrast to present times – he was highly patriotic and fully committed to the success of the country in which he had total confidence and faith. Because he considered it his duty, Donovan volunteered to return to active service on outbreak of WWII. Having the ear of Franklin Roosevelt, he convinced the president to let him put together a behind the lines, covert unit that would take the war to the aggressors.

General Bill Donovan’s creation – the Office of Strategic Services – was legendary for the confusion and chaos that its operatives sowed behind the line of the Nazis in Occupied Europe and eventually inside the Reich itself. One of the highest accolades that a warrior possessed was to be part of the Jedburgh teams, small groups of two officers and a radio operator who parachuted at night from the belly of a bomber into France, Holland, and Yugoslavia. William Casey, himself later a Director of Central Intelligence, was a Jed case operator who managed a Who’s Who of agents including luminaries such as Major General Jack Singlaub.
Eventually the OSS spread to the Pacific where it tangled with the Japanese from Burma to Manchuria, conducting legendary missions such as the liberation of a Japanese prison camp in a far corner of Northeast Asia by Roger Hilsman, later part of President John F. Kennedy’s legendary advisory team. By the end of the war the OSS had clearly proven its worth. As the Cold War opened all agreed that American intelligence – so abysmally lacking and confused – needed to be overhauled. From the roots of the OSS came two organizations that came to play important roles in the six post-War decades: the US Army’s Special Forces and the CIA.
 
The Central Intelligence Agency was born in the same spirit of reform and lessons learned that produced the Department of Defense (bringing separate Services together). The motivation for the bureaucratic changes was the need to avoid the kinds of surprise that caught America short on December 7, 1941. In a Cold War, facing a nuclear-armed Soviet Union, the thinking was that we required a combined, shared agency that could process information from all sources and prevent a disaster. Given the attack on September 11, 2001 the CIA fell considerably short of that goal.
 
Time and the inevitable tendencies of bureaucracies and institutions to grow bloated and eventually stagnate contributed to the ineffectiveness of the Agency. So did a misguided Congressional oversight that led to the gutting of the sometimes messy human intelligence gathering arm in favor of increasingly higher technologically-based intelligence systems. Over time the senior management of the Agency grew incestuous, self-serving, xenophobic toward outside forces, and highly partisan and political. It was penetrated by Soviet moles, betrayed by agents whose bizarre behavior was somehow overlooked, and became enslaved by an intelligence ideology that rewarded group-think and punished those who strayed outside of the consensus box.


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