The pseudonymous Ishmael Jones is a former CIA case officer and author of The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. He writes with a timely comment on the current intelligence controversy that is reaching a fever pitch. Mr. Jones advises that his commentary has been reviewed and approved by the CIA’s publications review board. He writes:
CIA intelligence reporting stating that the Russian government hacked the presidential election in order to elect Donald Trump is false. It is merely a political attack against Donald Trump with the goal of delegitimizing his presidency.
The depth and quality of the CIA reporting are too good to be true. A December 16 NBC report states, for example: “Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used.” Everyone knows that a great deal of hacking comes out of Russia. But evidence of hacking does not lead to the conclusion that there was a Russian government conspiracy to get Mr. Trump elected.
Such a conclusion would require access to Putin’s inner circle and knowledge of Putin’s plans and intentions. Any spy that close to Putin would be one of the best intelligence sources of all time.
If such a source existed, he doesn’t exist any more. The leaked reporting would have put him in grave danger, and he would already have been imprisoned or executed.
The reporting instead reflects the political opinions and agendas of bureaucrats. CIA bureaucrats are a big blue voting machine with a long record of creating information harmful to Republican presidents. The danger to Mr. Trump is ratcheted up because the recent election influenced many people at the CIA to believe that Trump is the second coming of Hitler. And to stop Hitler, anything is ethical, even treason. CIA bureaucrats have chosen to attack Mr. Trump before he even takes office.
The CIA is meant to spy upon foreign countries. The secrets we seek are located in foreign countries. Yet the bloated CIA bureaucracy exists almost entirely within the United States. CIA bureaucrats appear to find foreign service disagreeable. They enjoy their lifestyle and will fight with aggressive passivity to keep it that way. More than 90% of CIA employees spend their careers living and working entirely within the United States.
James Bond would periodically come in from the field to report to the chief of British intelligence, “M.” On the way into M’s office he would joke around with M’s secretary, Miss Moneypenny.
When I reported to CIA Headquarters, there were thousands of these people – thousands of M’s and thousands of Miss Moneypennys. The CIA cafeteria looks like a great herd grazing peacefully upon the plains.
The incoming CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, will be astonished by how many of his senior leaders have not had an overseas assignment in decades. Brief junkets and TDY’s to foreign countries do not count. CIA boss John Brennan’s 40-plus years of CIA service have occurred almost entirely within the Headquarters building. During a 20-year career, the Left’s favorite spy, Valerie Plame, spent less than two and a half years in foreign operational assignments, mostly during an initial tour in Europe.
The CIA has a military origin, and in the military, huge staffs are required for planning and logistics. There are relatively few actual fighting infantrymen – at the point of the spear – because to send that infantryman to combat requires support from tanks, artillery, aircraft and so on, which need massive expenditure and meticulous planning. The CIA has the massive expenditure and the huge staffs, but the CIA’s equivalent of the infantryman is the case officer, and the best case officers require only a passport and an airline ticket to get half a world away and produce.
Michael Morell, author of the New York Times op-ed column “I Ran the CIA. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton” inhabited the Washington, D.C., area for nearly all of his 33 years in the CIA. In the article, he writes: “I will do everything I can to ensure she is elected.”
While at the CIA, Morell’s top goal was to promote greater inclusiveness and diversity. The CIA has come a long way since the days of the polygraph question, “Have you ever held another man’s penis in your hand?” Today we have more employees working in encouraging diversity and, as of recently, more transgender employees than we do case officers operating under cover in Russia, China, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea combined. We should try to do both. Let’s be dedicated to diversity and also spy on our enemies.
Mr. Pompeo’s staff may wish to contact the staff of former CIA chief Porter Goss. Goss was the last Republican appointee to attempt change at the CIA and his staff will be able to provide valuable insights, especially former staffer Patrick Murray
Gritty foreign countries with their strange ways and pungent smells are not the only reason for bureaucrats to live in the United States. CIA Headquarters is also the place to make deals. Fighting fraud will be a real challenge to Mr. Pompeo. Most bureaucrats retire and become contractors, wheedling contracts from their pals still at the CIA. I hear many tales from colleagues about waste, theft, and great riches accruing to phony contractors. The CIA paid $40 million to contractors to review documents to help prepare the Senate torture report, according to ABC News on December 10, 2014, for example. Had Hillary won, Michael Morell’s support may have put him on track to be a billionaire. Forty million here and forty million there really starts to add up.
It may be possible to make great progress in draining the swamp by firing or prosecuting just one leaker – just a single one. And by imprisoning just one phony contractor – just one. Word will spread that there’s a new sheriff in town and Mr. Pompeo may be pleasantly surprised to see that the swamp starts to drain itself.