Sunday, June 11, 2006

CIA: More Messy, Day by Day

For openers, we'll grant that the goings-on at the CIA are somewhat shrouded in secrecy (Duhhh)--and as a result, what emerges into the news is not necessarily "complete", or entirely accurate.

That said, Ken Timmerman is no slouch in reporting events in the Beltway; he's assembled a sterling track record going back to his days at the American Spectator reporting on the oh-so-cozy relations between X42, his SecDef, and the PRChina dictators. So when Timmerman writes something, it's usually well-founded.

In an article for Human Events, Timmerman is highly critical of the appointment of Stephen Kappes as DD/CIA proposed by the new Director, Gen. Hayden. " many intelligence insiders, the Kappes nomination sends a clear message that the Bush has abandoned its efforts to reform a dysfunctional agency. And that is the most troubling part of this appointment.

"The CIA has been at war with the Bush administration since the beginning," says Richard Perle, the former chair of the Defense Policy board. "What is astounding is the CIA campaign to discredit this administration."

Kappes is clearly a part of the "old guard" at CIA:

Just two months after Porter Goss took over as CIA Director in 2004, he ordered Kappes to fire his deputy, Michael Sulick, for gross insubordination. Kappes refused, and offered his resignation instead -- telling colleagues that Goss would never dare to accept it. He did.

To some intelligence insiders, that made Kappes a hero.

Sulick and others referred to Goss’s aides dismissively as "the Goslings" and refused to take orders from them, claiming they were "political hacks" because they had worked for Goss in Congress. Many in the media jumped in, accusing Goss and his staff of conducting a "witch hunt" for firing Sulick.

But every director of central intelligence has brought his closest aides with him from earlier jobs. This was true with Bill Casey in the 1980s, and with George Tenet in the 1990s. And it will undoubtedly be true of Hayden as well.

Obviously--and in this case, a "close aide" will be Kappes.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R.-Pa.) believes Kappes was a disaster as head of the CIA's directorate of operations, and called him "the ringleader of an internal CIA rebellion" against Goss. "He was one of many in the CIA resistant to needed reforms."

House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R.-Mich.) said Kappes was guilty of "gross insubordination" for his behavior at the agency under Goss and complained that the administration never consulted Congress before choosing him.

There's little question that Curt Weldon is exercised over this appointment. You will recall that Weldon was the Congressmen who blew the whistle on the 9/11 Commission's whitewash of the Able Danger intelligence.

Timmerman goes on to raise a few provocative questions:

Did Kappes encourage former Paris chief of station Bill Murray to compromise the identity of Weldon's Iranian source in Paris? Weldon had gone to great lengths to protect his source's identity, only to have his name appear in a left-wing publication that interviewed Murray. A Kappes protégé, Murray said he was "outraged" that Weldon had attacked the CIA, and called his information "garbage." Outing Weldon’s source put the man’s life at risk.

Was Kappes involved in the decision not to act on information provided by an Iranian defector in late July 2001 during debriefings in Baku, Azerbaijan, that could have helped to prevent the September 11 attacks? The defector not only gave the method of the attack -- hijacked civilian airliners. He identified the perpetrators (al Qaeda operatives trained in Iran and gave the exact date, which the CIA's man in Baku mistranslated as September 10.

What role did Kappes play in the compromise of the CIA's last network of sources in Iran? According to my information Stephen Richer, who was in charge of Middle East operations and who followed Kappes out the door in 2004, doubled the reporting requirements of the network in order to advance his own evaluation. But Richer neglected to double the channels used to communicate with the Iranians. As a result, Iranian intelligence discovered the network of agents and shut them down.

Interesting questions, indeed. Perhaps Our President should ask Hayden and Kappen these questions, personally.

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