WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.
"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "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."
To most observers this move is at the same time unsurprising as it is unbelievable. With the appointment of Porter Goss the accelerated politicization of the CIA was expected, but such a wide-spread housecleaning is hard to believe.
This move clearly illustrates what critics of the administration's governing style have been saying for years. Rather than forcing its policies to stand up to criticism and examination in order to isolate and fix problems, the administration simply wants loyal members to sign off on its plans. The style reflects repeated conservative criticism of university professors and scientists. Those two groups constantly submit their ideas and analysis to knowledgeable peers in their field for criticism. If their work does not stand up to criticism, it doesn't get published. Put out too much bad work, you lose your job. Its a constantly self-inspecting system (it's far from perfect, of course, bad work does get out on a regular basis, but there is a system in place that in the majority of cases assures that the work that does go out has passed some "reality-based" tests.). Such evaluation systems are kryptonite to this White House.
This is of an especially critical nature due to the fact that we are tinkering with the essential intelligence gathering field. If the gatherers are afraid to push pass along bad news due to fear of retribution from superiors because the analysis does not reflect the politically accepted world-view than the situation will become very bad, very quickly.
The military and intelligence community has been fighting to remove this sort of interference from its systems since the dark days of Vietnam, it is not a period I believe they would want to return to.