CIA must remain independent to ensure national security

The Bush administration is actively purging critics from the Central Intelligence Agency to make the intelligence community more concurrent with the White House’s worldview. To simply silence these critics undermines the value of the CIA — set up as an independent nonpartisan agency — and could be outright dangerous for the nation.

To make the case for a war in Iraq, the Bush administration ignored several pieces of information presented by the CIA which questioned whether Iraq had WMDs. The administration, for example, ignored evidence that concluded the aluminum tubes Iraq was attempting to acquire could not be used to enrich uranium. Bush nevertheless used information he knew was not reliable in his State of the Union address in January 2003 to bolster his case that Saddam Hussein had a working nuclear program. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who tendered his resignation Tuesday, also cited the unconfirmed information in front of the United Nations to build a case for war.

To make matters worse, information questioning the validity of Bush’s claim about the urgency of the war was also withheld from the Senate before it was to vote on allowing Bush the ability to act with force if he saw it as necessary.

All these actions led to the United States starting a war of choice while portraying it as a necessity to the U.S and world populations. All the highly questionable actions happened behind closed doors.

Now, however, the administration is attempting to rig the intelligence community in order to avoid going through the trouble of suppressing information, but rather to quell dissenting views at the source.

“(Director of Central Intelligence Porter) Goss was given instructions … to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president’s agenda,” a source told Newsday on terms of anonymity.

Nobody likes to be criticized for doing what they believe is right and President Bush is no exception. But this dislike of dissent does not give the administration the right to manipulate and strong-arm supposedly independent institutions, such as the CIA, into submission.

Such actions also make it more likely that “intelligence failures” such as those that led to the Sept. 11 attacks and the needless war in Iraq will occur again.

Even after it became obvious that Iraq did not have WMDs and warnings about al-Qaida planned attack on the United States went largely ignored, President Bush called the intelligence that led to the war “darn good intelligence.” But just because he was told what he wanted to hear does not make the intelligence good. Ignoring the facts may have been convenient, but it jeopardized national security.