Holding the Government Accountable

CIA Retaliation and Intelligence Manipulation?

The Washington Post has a doozy of a story today. A once-undercover CIA operative says that not only was he asked by higher ups in the Agency to falsify intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, but that he was retaliated against by CIA managers for refusing to do so and trying to report it.

This is an example of why whistleblower protections need to be strengthened and extended to intelligence agencies. This is what they did to the officer to thwart his concerns and retaliate (from the WP):

In 2002, the [CIA operative's] lawsuit says, the CIA officer "attempted to report routine intelligence" from a human asset " but was thwarted by CIA superiors." It goes on to say that he was subsequently approached by a senior desk officer "who insisted that Plaintiff falsify his reporting," and that when he refused, the "management" of the CIA's Counterproliferation Division ordered that he "remove himself from any further 'handling' " of the unnamed asset, who is referred elsewhere in the document as "a highly respected human asset."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Friday and placed in the public court docket yesterday after a judge said it could proceed using a pseudonym for the plaintiff, says his superiors falsely promised him that they would report his findings to President Bush and falsely claimed that they had disseminated some of his other reports through normal channels.

In 2003, the lawsuit says, the CIA officer learned of the counterintelligence investigation of allegations that he was having sex with a female asset. Five days later, it says, he was told that a promotion was being canceled "because of pressure from the DDO [Deputy Director of Operations] James Pavitt."

With the recent Porter Goss memo which directs the CIA to "support the administration and its policies in our work," the threat of politization through cherry-picked and falsified reporting is on the rise. We need people who see wrongdoing to step forward. This case is just the latest in a trend, where government agencies silence truth-tellers who attempt to fix problems from the inside--forcing them to go to the press--if they're willing to pay the price of their job.

Pre-war intelligence used to justify the invasion argued that Iraq was developing WMDs, but so far none have been found. Most recently, the Duelfer report issued in September says that the WMDs are just not there. Speaking to a Senate panel, Duelfer said, "We were almost all wrong."

Examination of different versions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMDs indicates that the original unclassified version was simplified to leave out inconvienent information that made the case for WMDs less cut and dry.

Some initial delving into the politization of pre-war intelligence by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yielded some contradictory text published in its report issued this last summer. For example, regarding the flawed WMD intelligence the SSCI July report summarizes saying:

The Committee was not presented with any evidence that intelligence analysts changed their judgments as a result of political pressure, altered or produced intelligence products to conform with Administration policy, or that anyone even attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to do so (page 358)

Yet, in non-redacted quotes or in SSCI-speak, "more extensive responses," by intelligence analysts interviewed by SSCI there are interesting nuggets that are seemingly the anti-pode of the summary in the July report.

A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst responsible for Iraq Political Leadership stated,

"I think the lion's share of the pressure that I felt - and I'm talking personally as an analyst and as a leader of a team - had to do with internal analytic disagreements . . . I think it was the pressure of having to wrestle with tough questions and how do you deal with conflicting evidence that we felt" (page 358-9)

The Deputy Director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis (OTA) in the Director of Central Intelligence's (DCI) Counterterrorist Center (CTC) commented, "...the pressure was intense..." (page 358).

However, the SSCI is committed to releasing a full report only on the politization of intelligence (rather just on the failure pre-Iraq war intelligence) sometime soon. We'll see what they say.

(An aside: in 2001 when POGO went to SSCI to discuss its report on weak security in the nuclear weapons complex, we were told that SSCI did not have its own investigative staff. Additionally, its well-known that both the House and Senate Intelligence committees are captured by the intelligence agencies. There's a revolving-door between the agencies and the staff members of the committees (e.g. Porter Goss). )

UPDATE: The Federation of American Scientists has the lawsuit text in its redacted form [via War and Piece].