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Analysis Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

Filling a gap in Robert Gates� resume
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Nov 13, 2006, 01:47

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Robert Parry, writing in The Secret World of Robert Gates, gives us a dark portrait of the fair-haired Gates, 27-year veteran of CIA wars. The mild-looking president of Texas A & M University rounded out his violent career in his revisionist memoirs, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider�s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. Certainly, with a little help from the home-boy from the Bush inner circle, Gates, they won.

Among Gates' many offenses mentioned in Parry�s article, perhaps the most pernicious was corrupting the intelligence process itself by politicizing it. That is, turning objective scholarship and truth gathered by loyal analysts into agit-prop that politicians wished to use for their agendas. This legacy, Parry points out, �contributed to the botched CIA�s analysis of Iraqi WMD in 2002, a most formidable failure whose results we are now living with.

In fact at Gates� confirmation hearings in 1991, ex CIA analysts, most notably Kremlinologist Mel Goodman, came out of the shadows to accuse Gates of politicizing intelligence on his watch as chief and then deputy director of the analytical division.

The former intel officers said with one voice that the �ambitious Gates pressured the CIA�s analytical divison to exaggerate the Soviet menace to fit the ideological perspective of the Reagan administration. Analysts who took a more nuanced view of Soviet power and Moscow�s behavior in the world faced pressure and career reprisals.�

Thus in 1981, Carolyn McGiffert Ekedal of the CIA�s Soviet office was handed the bombshell assignment to gather analysis on the Soviet Union�s alleged support and direction of international terrorism. Parry points out, �Contrary to the desired White House take on Soviet-backed terrorism, Ekedahl said the consensus of the intelligence community was that the Soviets discouraged acts of terrorism by groups getting support from Moscow for practical, not moral, reasons.�

Ekedahl herself said, �We agreed that the Soviets consistently stated, publicly and privately, that they considered international terrorist activities counterproductive and advised groups they supported not to use such tactics. We had hard evidence to support this conclusion.�

Yet Gates raked analysts over the coals, accusing them of trying to �stick our finger in the policy maker�s eye,� Ekedahl testified. Gates, unhappy with the terrorism assessment, put his hand into rewriting the draft �to suggest greater Soviet support for terrorism and the text was altered by pulling up from the annex reports that overstated Soviet involvement.�

In his memoirs, From The Shadows, Gates denied politicizing the CIA�s intelligence product. He admitted only that he was aware of [William] Casey�s �hostile reaction to the analysts� disagreement with right-wing theories about Soviet-directed terrorism.� In fact, Casey and Gates undermined the whole intelligence process.

As a result, the roof fell in on the analysts who prepared the Soviet-terrorism report. Ekedahl pointed out that many analysts were �replaced by people new to the subject who insisted on language emphasizing Soviet control of international terrorist activities.�

Thus, a war broke out inside the US intelligence community. Some top officials who produced the analysis fought back against Casey�s willingness to tamper with the truth. They warned that politicization would undermine the processes' integrity and �risk policy disasters in the future.�

Gates cum Casey also took part in a group of institutional changes that gave Casey more control of the analytical process. Casey asked that drafts had to pass clearance from his office before they would be passed on to other intelligence agencies.

Casey named the ever-ready Gates as director of the Directorate of Intelligence [DI] and firmed up Gates� power over analysts, also appointing him chairman of the National Intelligence Council, another major analytical body.

Ekedahl commented, �Casey and Gates used various management tactics to get the line of intelligence they desired and to suppress unwanted intelligence.� Their job became the dumbing down of intelligence facts for political fictions.

Careers Trashed

Gates was soon peppering the analytical division with fellow travelers, so to speak. They were known as the �Gates Clones,� according to Parry. Peter Dickson, an analyst who concentrated on proliferation issues said, �One of the things he [Gates] wanted to do . . . was to shake up the DI. He was going to read every paper that came out. What that did was that everybody between the analyst and him had to get involved in the paper to a greater extent because their careers were going to be at stake.�

Dickson managed to get himself in trouble in 1983, when he banged heads with his superiors over his conclusion that the �Soviet Union was more committed to controlling proliferation of nuclear weapons than the administration wanted to hear.� When he stood by his evidence, his psychological fitness was questioned. Other pressures were applied that caused him to leave the CIA. Is this reminiscent of what Bush has done to the media -- gotten them all on message daily -- regardless of how phony that message is? Those that don�t are disappeared, e.g., Dan Rather.

Dickson was also one of the fearless who balked at Pakistan�s nuclear weapons development, a sore point then because Reagan-Bush needed Pakistan�s help in channeling weapons to Islamic fundamentalists who were battling the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of overblown intelligence about Soviet power and objectives was to create a monster by allowing the Islamic world to develop a nuclear bomb. It made training Islamic fundamentalists in sabotage techniques look like the Boy Scouts.

This corrupt logic continued to wreak havoc: �while worst-case scenarios were in order for the Soviet Union and other communist enemies, best-case scenarios were the order of the day for Reagan-Bush allies, including Osama bin laden and other Arab extremists rushing to Afghanistan to wage a holy war against European invaders, in this case, the Russians.�

Also, as the Pakistani�s drove towards a nuclear bomb, Reagan-Bush & Company played word games to avoid anti-proliferation penalties that would be imposed on Pakistan. �There was a distinction made to say that the possession of the device is not the same as developing it,� Dickson told Parry. �They got into the argument that they don�t quite possess it yet because they haven�t turned the last screw in the warhead.� Ultimately, it would be the world that would be screwed as the Pakistanis developed their bomb and shared their know-how with �rogue� states, such as North Korea and Libya.

The more you read, the more we seem to be the authors of our daily disasters.

Mel Goodman summed up the Gates-Casey offenses to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1991: �the politicization that took place during the Casey-Gates era is directly responsible for the CIA�s loss of its ethical compass and the erosion of its credibility . . . The fact that the CIA missed the most important historical development in its history -- the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the Soviet Union itself -- is due in large measure to the culture and process that Gates established in its directorate.�

In essence, the CIA was so busy distorting intelligence to sabotage our perceived boogeyman, the Soviet Union that was collapsing under the battering . . . so busy doing this that it missed the very creation of what would become the bugaboo of Muslim �terrorism,� replete with its own atomic bomb. Mr. Casey, wherever you are, Mr. Gates, right here and now, take a bow for a noxious job too well done. But is this really the man we want running the Defense Department and to be a key player supposedly in ending the Iraq war?

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York. Reach him at

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