Many people are unaware that the CIA is, and always has been, a liberal organization, its ranks dominated by Democrats. This probably accounts in part for the agency’s most embarrassing moment, its utter failure to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union. Right up until the end, the CIA was telling Presidents Reagan and Bush that Communism was working out pretty well.
The CIA’s liberal orientation has been painfully evident over the last four years, as the agency has engaged in a virtual war with the Bush administration; its officials have been available 24/7 for anti-Bush leaks to the New York Times and the Washington Post.
The administration is now fighting back by complaining that the CIA us using its budget to fund domestic criticism of the administration, which may be illegal:
The CIA’s Counterterrorist Center has spent more than $15 million in the past three years funding studies, reports and conferences produced by former Democratic administration officials and other critics of the Bush administration.
The latest effort was a $300,000 grant by the CIA to the Atlantic Council for a study co-authored by Richard A. Clarke, the former counterterrorism official who wrote a best seller accusing the Bush administration of failing in the war on terrorism by invading Iraq.
“The products of the [center] have a consistent theme: They criticize the Bush administration and provide ammunition for the Kerry campaign,” said one U.S. official who has read the resulting reports and studies.
The administration notes that the CIA has not funded any groups that are conservative or supportive of the Bush administration.
One humorous note: the key CIA official involved in funding anti-Bush propaganda is one Bonnie Mitchell, who so far has declined to comment. When the Washington Times tried to reach her, a CIA spokesman tried to reprise the Valerie Plame affair by claiming that Ms. Mitchell is an “undercover agent.” In fact, however, she routinely identifies herself as a CIA analyst at public gatherings. So the agency will have to come up with another line of defense.
I’m glad to see the conflict between the Bush administration and the CIA out in the open, and I hope that dealing with the agency’s efforts to undercut U.S. foreign policy will be a high priority if President Bush gains a second term.