Perhaps this is in the category of “no big deal” — although after witnessing the Houthis overrun the American friendly government of Yemen, I’d say not.As reported by The Daily Beast, “The secretive head of the agency’s National Clandestine Service is retiring amid reports of infighting over a reorganization of the intelligence service. CIA spokesman Dean Boyd confirmed that the director announced his retirement “after a long and distinguished career at CIA. We thank him for this profound and lasting contributions to both CIA and to our nation’s security.”
I remember the days of President Jimmy Carter who, with then-CIA Director Stansfield Turner, gutted out intelligence gathering apparatus — doggone hope this isn’t the case here, déjà vu all over again.
If there’s any time we don’t need any turbulence in the Central Intelligence Agency, especially the clandestine service, it’s now. But there seems to be no great affection from this current Obama administration towards the CIA. You all remember the “outing” of the Chief of Station in Afghanistan by the administration?
“As a practice, the CIA doesn’t identify the head of the clandestine service by name. But Frank Archibald was outed in a Twitter post in 2013, and details of his biography were known to some journalists.”“Archibald, who was 57 when he took the job that year, reportedly served tours in Pakistan and Africa and also headed the CIA’s Latin America division. The Associated Press reported that Archibald “once ran the covert action that helped remove Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from power.”
“Archibald’s retirement comes at a transitional moment for the CIA. The agency’s director, John Brennan, is considering major changes to the agency’s structure, including the possible creation of new intelligence centers and doing away with the traditional division of CIA into its analysis group and the clandestine service.”
If you watched the White House press briefing Friday, you saw why we don’t need to be “monkeying around” with our clandestine service. You saw a very flummoxed Josh Earnest trying to wish away the events in Yemen and actually dismiss the relationship between the Shiite Houthis and Iran.And how about the discovery that an Iranian general was killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Golan Heights? Clearly Iran is consolidating its hegemonic expansion through control of several key centers in the Middle East — Sanaa in Yemen, Beirut in Lebanon, Damscus in Syria, and Baghdad in Iraq.
Hey, do any of you find it odd that in last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama touted the fact that we had no combat troops in Iraq. Funny, he didn’t mention Iraq at all last Tuesday. I suppose the fact that we have nearly 4000 troops there in Iraq — yes, wearing combat boots and standing on the ground — was missed by the Commander-in-Chief.Still he did ask Congress for AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force), against who? The “jayvee” team. I kinda thought we were already using military force to drop bombs on their head. And now we hear about a potential offensive operation to retake Mosul – yes I said retake.
Perhaps better clandestine operations would have provided Obama clear and actionable intelligence to see the growth and rise of the reconstituted al-Qaida in Iraq and ISIS. Oops, I forgot, maybe it was presented in one of those almost 58 percent of intel briefings Obama missed?
The Beast writes, “Critics of the reorganization, which hasn’t been formally proposed and, officials have stressed, isn’t a done deal, see it as potentially undermining some of the CIA’s core capabilities in favor of organizing the agency around regions of the world. Some in the National Clandestine Service in particular view a reorganization as a threat to the high-degree of independence it has traditionally enjoyed within the intelligence bureaucracy. “This would be to their mind the greatest threat to their independence since they were created as the Directorate of Plans back in 1951,” one former official said. Brennan is slated to make public remarks on Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, where he’ll be interviewed by journalist Charlie Rose.”
Ah yes, the venerable Council on Foreign Relations. So let’s see what the CIA Director has to say about the chaotic situation in the Middle East and whether or not we have a capable clandestine service to meet the growing challenges.
If the proposed reorganization is tasked, organized and regionally developed like our military geographic combatant commands, I wouldn’t see an issue — as we’ve seen better coordination between our Military Special Operations forces with the CIA in recent years. I am all for joint operations that leverage all our capability.
However, if we’re looking at gutting our capability and a reorganization that makes no strategic and certainly no tactical common sense, well, there will be more surprises a-coming not just in the Middle East but elsewhere. And as I learned in the military, surprises are for birthdays.