Ex-CIA officer dismisses reforms



 

 

 

By Mark Huband, Security Correspondent

Financial Times, 11 December 2004

Far-reaching reform of the US intelligence community was yesterday criticised as “eyewash” by the former Central Intelligence Agency officer who led the agency’s hunt for the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The US Senate this week approved legislation that will create a post of director of national intelligence, as well as a national counterterrorism centre to co-ordinate intelligence on terrorism.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Michael Scheuer said the reforms would compound rather than address the weaknesses of the US intelligence community that have been detailed in several damaging reports over the past few months.

“I suppose the American people look to their leaders for safety and security, and the new national intelligence director will give the impression of there being somebody in control of the whole intelligence community,” Mr Scheuer said. “But I don’t think there is much to it in substance.”

Even before Congress passed the reforms, which President George W. Bush is expected to sign into law next week, the appointment of Porter Goss, a close political ally of Mr Bush, as director of the CIA in September had intensified a bitter war of words between the agency and the White House.

“The main problem is that people like [defence secretary Donald] Rumsfeld and [secretary of state Condoleezza] Rice have so few contact points with reality. They are cold warriors,” said Mr Scheuer, who headed the Bin Laden unit within the CIA’s counterterrorism centre until he resigned from the agency last month.

“These people really don’t do analysis. They do assertion,” he said.

While employed at the CIA, Mr Scheuer published two books under the pseudonym “Anonymous”, after being told he could not use his real name. The second, Imperial Hubris, detailed how, in his opinion, the Bush administration failed to diminish the threat from al-Qaeda by diverting attention to Iraq before neutralising the threat from extremists in Afghanistan.

 

 

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