Comment: Obama may retain current CIA leadership

In early November, US President-Elect Barack Obama appeared to be determined to install John Brennan, former head of the National Counterterrorism Center and supporter of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”, to the post of Director of the CIA. The stir caused by Brennan’s support of torture techniques soon caused him to resign from the candidacy. The New York Times described Brennan’s resignation as “the biggest glitch so far in what has been an otherwise smooth transition for Mr. Obama”. On December 3, the paper warned that Obama’s decision to exclude Brennan from the CIA has “created anxiety in the ranks of the agency’s clandestine service”. It also quoted an unnamed intelligence official who cautioned the Obama transition team that Obama “may have difficulty finding a candidate who can be embraced by both veteran officials at the agency and the left flank of the Democratic Party”. In other words, the Clandestine Service does not intend to co-operate with a progressive attempt to restructure the CIA along essentially democratic lines. The threat appears to have been received. US News and World Report has cited the usual anonymous “intelligence sources” in speculating that “it is possible that [the President-Elect] might ask CIA Director Mike Hayden to stay on for a while”. The magazine’s report further quotes an intelligence source as stating that “[i]t’s unfair to blame Hayden for things that occurred long before he took the job” (implying, controversially, that the systematic torture of detainees has ended) and blaming only the Bush Administration for the use of torture. The latter assertion seems to be based on the source’s belief that “Administration policy and American law shape what the CIA does” –a simplistic viewpoint that overlooks the numerous historical instances in which the CIA has displayed strong tendencies of operational detachment from elected governmental structures. Still, if the US News and World Report speculation proves to be accurate, it will signify the continuation of an interesting ideological tradition in US federal government: namely that the core administrative centers of the deep state, such as the Departments of State, Defense and Treasury, along with the intelligence services, are totally and permanently off-limits to progressives. [JF]

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

2 Responses to Comment: Obama may retain current CIA leadership

  1. Name says:

    The secret service, the ones that lay their lives on the line, are
    proud of the wise choice of choosing the most experienced person in
    the USA that can head the CIA, because that person is going to tell
    them when the bad guys are going to try to attack things in
    Washington? It just makes things so much easier for Air Force One
    when they go on those trips overseas when they have the most qualified
    person heading the CIA? Mr. Bidon is happy as a guppy swimming in
    whiskey right now?

  2. drrony says:

    what the hell CIA leadership is trying to here in that way

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