05 May 2009

Spooks Not Happy With Obama

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They had a lot to do with bringing down George W. Bush. Jack Kelly wonders if Obama has not recently made the wrong enemies.

Has Barack Obama made an enemy who can sabotage his presidency?

The presidency of George W. Bush began to unravel when some in high positions at the Central Intelligence Agency began waging a covert campaign against him.

It began in the summer of 2003 when officials at the CIA asked the Justice department to open a criminal investigation into who had disclosed to columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, wife of controversial former diplomat Joseph Wilson, worked at the CIA.

The officials knew at the time the Intelligence Identities Protection Act did not apply to Ms. Plame, who’d been out of the field for more than five years.

Another blow was struck with the publication in 2004 of the book “Imperial Hubris” by Michael Scheuer, who’d headed the bin Laden desk during the Clinton administration. It was harshly critical of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror in general, and the invasion of Iraq in particular.

Never before had a serving officer been allowed to publish such a book.

The CIA typically slow-rolled and censored books even by retired CIA directors.

“Why did the CIA allow such a controversial book to be published in the first place?” asked attorney Mark Zaid, who specializes in national security law. “There is simply no question that the CIA could have prevented the publication of Scheuer’s book if it had wanted to do so. And no court would have sided with him.”

Why would some at the CIA want to sabotage President Bush? One motive might have been to deflect blame for intelligence failures. The CIA confidently had predicted Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. But none were found. The tactical intelligence the CIA provided to the U.S. military forces invading Iraq proved nearly worthless. And the CIA was caught flat-footed by the insurgency that developed several months after Saddam’s fall.

There may have been a simpler motive. The novelist Charles McCarry was a deep cover CIA operative for ten years. “I never met a stupid person in the agency,” he said in a 2004 interview. “Or an assassin. Or a Republican.”

The CIA’s war against President Bush was motivated by ass covering, or by political partisanship. But with President Obama, it’s personal.

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