Analysis: Former CIA agent warns of Pentagon takeover

Robert Baer

Robert Baer

Robert Baer, the former CIA agent whose memoirs were behind the film Syriana, has written a new column for Time magazine, in which he warns that a Pentagon takeover of the CIA may be again in the works. The bureaucratic infighting between military and civilian agencies for control of the CIA is old news. But Baer believes that the military background of Admiral Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama’s new Director for National Intelligence (DNI), may be a factor in placing the Pentagon closer to its ultimate goal of swallowing the CIA. The former CIA agent mentions the dispute between Admiral Blair and CIA Director Leon Panetta over the appointment of Washington’s new intelligence chief in Kabul. Rumor has it that Blair is preparing to name a uniformed officer for the position, whereas Panetta wants to maintain the CIA tradition of appointing a civilian intelligence official. Baer correctly states that, if the DNI gets his way, “it would be an unprecedented arrogation of the CIA director’s authority […] and the first time in its history the CIA would not be the lead [US] intelligence agency in a foreign country”. Could this be the beginning of the end for the CIA’s paramount role in US intelligence operations abroad? Baer describes the stakes as “critical —existential even” for the beleaguered agency.

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

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