Analysis: CIA “cronyism, favoritism” prompts resignations

Art Brown

Art Brown

Rumors emerged last week that the leading candidate to head the CIA’s station in Kabul, Afghanistan, has no experience in the Middle East or south Asia, and speaks no local languages. This is despite a bitter bureaucratic turf battle between the CIA leadership and the office the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to find the best-suited person for the job. Why is it still so hard, after nearly eight years in Afghanistan, for the CIA to find qualified senior managers? Jeff Stein of SpyTalk says it’s because skilled staff are demoralized and frustrated by the Agency’s chronic inefficiencies. He quotes an anonymous former senior counterterrorism officer who claims that escalating “cronyism and favoritism” are coupled by the lack of any serious “effort to address […] massive senior leadership problems”. He also quotes Arthur Keller, a retired CIA agent who spent several years looking for Osama bin Laden in the Afghan-Pakistani border areas, who says that high turnover rates at the Agency are not a new phenomenon, and that CIA employees “were running for the door all during the second Bush administration”. The criticism comes at a difficult time for the CIA, which has recently faced public disapproval for its interrogation practices after 9/11. Last December, 25-year CIA veteran Art Brown, who headed the Asia division of the Agency’s Clandestine Service from 2003 to 2005, publicly described the CIA as “an organization mired in failure, mediocrity and incompetence”, and called for radical reform.

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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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