Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Burn Before Reading

That's the title, and an amusing one, of a book about the CIA by Stansfield Turner (former Director under Jimmy Carter). From the review on OpinionJournal it looks like an interesting study. The review is subtitled, "How to fix the CIA? 'Get rid of the clowns,'" which is based on a quote about the CIA from Nixon. Turner covers the ineptness of the agency from its founding to the Tenet Tenure.
"To his credit, Adm. Turner does not spare his own tenure from criticism. Serving as intelligence chief under Jimmy Carter would have been a challenge even if the CIA had been up to snuff. Carter was a president who knew an immense amount about the world but understood equally little. But in the Iran crisis, with the fall of the shah and the seizure of U.S. diplomats as hostages, the agency under Adm. Turner limped along from blunder to blunder. The CIA, Carter's intelligence chief candidly admits, did not know 'that the Shah was terminally ill; did not understand who Khomeini was ...; did not have a clue as to who the hostage takers were or what their objective was.' How did these errors occur? 'We were just plain asleep.'"
Seems not much has changed since those days, or at least there hasn't been any improvement. But this is the agency that was insisting the Russians were years away from an atomic bomb even after they had detonated one.

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