Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Just the facts, ma'am

New CIA director Porter Goss provided a clear message for his underlings in a memo to them Monday: "We support the administration, and its policies, in our work as agency employees. We do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies. We provide the intelligence as we see it -- and let the facts alone speak to the policy-maker."

Goss, mind you, sent this memo almost immediately after the resignations of several high-ranking officials who expressed their concerns about Bush's handling of the war on terrorism. Once again, I grow concerned about the tone in Langley, Va.

The CIA's job is not to support the president and his policies. The CIA's job is not to oppose dissenting voices to administration policy. The CIA's job is to provide accurate, impartial, and unvarnished intelligence to the president, without an agenda, without spin, and without puffery. The CIA exists to provide just the facts -- good, bad, and ugly -- whether they're convenient or inconvenient. What the president decides to do, or not to do, with that information is his business, and he is the one who bears the ultimate burden of accountability.

I hope Goss' memo was just a poorly worded expression of that sentiment and not an indicator of a larger underlying problem.


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