Wednesday, May 24, 2006

[political-researchp] Bloglines - AN EX-CIA OFFICIAL TELLS WHY HAYDEN IS WRONG

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FOREIGN POLICY - The selection of Gen. Michael Hayden to succeed Porter Goss as director of the CIA raises questions about intelligence reform once again. Michael Scheuer, former chief of the Osama bin Laden unit at the CIA, explains to FP why he thinks Hayden is the wrong choice for the job, why intelligence on Iran is so poor, and why he thinks Iraq "is finished."

FOREIGN POLICY: Is Michael Hayden the right choice for the CIA?

Michael Scheuer: No. As a professional intelligence officer, the last people you want to report to are generals and diplomats. And if General Hayden comes to the CIA, we'll have Mr. Negroponte [a career diplomat] as head of the community, and a general as the head of the CIA. They are not particularly good at taking bad news to the president, in the experience of most intelligence officers. . .

FP: People have said that U.S. intelligence on Iran is poor. Why is that?

MS: It's poor because we haven't been there since 1979. People talk about new ways of doing intelligence, and new ways of working without a presence in a country. That's all talk. You can do a certain amount of that. But without a physical presence, it's very hard to collect intelligence. If you don't have an embassy, a consulate, or a physical presence, you're dependent on people coming out to meet you or on signals intelligence. One of the big problems in Iraq was that we hadn't had a presence there since the first Gulf War, and we depended on opposition people to give us information about Saddam. And it appears that the information supplied by [Ahmad] Chalabi and others was pretty close to perfect, in the sense of being perfectly wrong.

FP: What is your one-year outlook on Iraq?

MS: I think Iraq is finished. We'll just find a way to get out. I frankly don't think we ever intended to win there. We certainly didn't send enough troops to close borders, to control the country. [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld was obsessed, apparently with his new, lighter, faster military. The inflow of fighters is growing. The pace of the insurgency, both there and in Afghanistan, is increasing. I don't hold much of a brief for Sen. John McCain, but he's right, in an unpalatable way: Unless we greatly increase the number of troops we have in Iraq, we're going to have to leave. I think the question is how do we leave? Do we leave with some dignity, or do we leave by flying off the top of the embassy as we did in Saigon? . . .

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