CIA has always had agents stumbling over each other

Recent media attention has showcased the grotesque growth of the nation’s intelligence agencies since 9/11.

Many, however, will say these agencies have worked — that our engorged spy network has prevented any malicious attacks on the mainland since intelligence was beefed up under George W. Bush. The operatives wounded say the criticisms are flat
out wrong.

I suspect, though, that it is a case of loose-linked clandestine organizations becoming too many to be truly efficient.

The federal government currently has 67 intelligence centers — from national-level departments to the smallest agency — monitoring overlapping bits of intelligence 24/7.

That’s far too many. When the CIA was created after World War II, it had offices in 37 different buildings around the capital.

Its people were then stumbling over one another with disastrous results from the standpoint of accuracy in reporting on our opponents around the world.

As an analyst of foreign and communist affairs for the Department of State and then the U.S. Information Agency in the 1950s, I set up my own “monitoring” system, daily following events around the world.

I predicted the death of Joseph Stalin, the ensuing power struggle in the USSR with Nikita Khrushchev the victor, the French communist party’s ouster of its two top leaders, the launch of Russia’s first nuclear-powered submarine and a string of other major events.

The CIA denied the likelihood of each event. It said Stalin could not be ill “without our knowing it.” He died three months later, leaving Washington in complete political shock. On the day Khrushchev toppled Premier Georgy Malenkov from power, the CIA station chief in Moscow was cabling State that my reports of a power struggle were rubbish. “There is no power struggle,” he said.

My point here is that our intelligence agencies can gather information. Unfortunately, they seem never to know what it really means. The “A” in CIA has never stood for accuracy or acumen. Look at the Bay of Pigs. Look at the fable of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The CIA has always had agents in Washington stumbling over one another as they have tried to decode the bits of information that it gathers. Communication between offices has sometimes been non-existent. There is always, in such circumstances, the likelihood that when information is passed from one shop to another, it will ultimately become contaminated with flawed and perhaps dangerous conclusions. Given the recent revelations, the president should demand a scrubbing of America’s intelligence network. Congress will certainly launch its own investigations.

Chevy Chase, Md.

Why does Feinberg act as if he’s in BP’s pocket?

Dr. Ruth Kastner

Kenneth Feinberg is acting as if he’s BP’s attorney. He is forcing people to make a choice that they were promised they wouldn’t have to make: Do nothing or accept an immediate payment and, by so doing, forfeit their right to go to court and sue BP later for ongoing losses.

This contradicts an earlier pledge by the Obama White House and reveals that the government is acting to shield BP from liability, rather than to justly meet the needs of the people.

Greenbelt, Md.