Melvin A. Goodman
The political embarrassments for President Barack Obama coming from the intelligence community, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, continue to mount, but there is no sign whatsoever that the President is interested in reversing the pattern.
The German government’s unprecedented expulsion of the CIA station chief in Berlin because of the unnecessary recruitment of two German national security officials should have been the kind of shot across the bow that would lead to a response from the Obama administration. The fact that the President had no early warning of these awkward recruitments from CIA Director John Brennan and that Brennan’s initial forays with the Germans were so clumsy only added to the embarrassment.
Brennan never should have been appointed CIA director in the first place. During his campaign for the presidency in 2007-2008, Obama spoke out against the militarization and politicization of the intelligence community, and promised more transparency in the community and an end to intelligence abuses.
Nevertheless, before his election, Obama appointed an intelligence advisory staff that was headed by former associates of George Tenet, whose failed stewardship of the CIA included the phony intelligence that was used to justify the use of force against Iraq. Tenet’s deputy, John McLaughlin, who supported CIA programs of renditions and detentions and helped to draft the spurious speech of Secretary of State Colin Powell to
the United Nations in the run-up to the war, was part of the advisory group. It was McLaughlin who delivered the infamous “slam dunk” briefing to President George W. Bush in January 2003.