The Central Intelligence Agency might be the last place in Washington you'd expect political correctness to have taken root. But as Gabriel Schoenfeld demonstrates in a disturbing new article, "What Became of the CIA," in the March issue of Commentary magazine, the agency has turned into "a government bureaucracy like any other, its managers and employees preoccupied with endless reams of restrictive regulations and simultaneously caught up in many of the newfangled pathologies of the American workplace," including affirmative action programs. Is it possible that in its zeal to promote more women and minorities, the CIA compromised its own mission? What role, if any, did affirmative action play in the spectacular failures of the CIA prior to 9/11? And what is being done now to undo the damage to the agency?
Schoenfeld reports that the agency has been under pressure since the early 1990s to reform its "old boy network" image. A 1991 CIA-commissioned study found that women did not achieve "at the same pace of or [to] the same degree as men," and received "proportionately fewer awards," missing out on choice assignments in the agency. The report also noted that, "in order to be accepted," female officers tolerated widespread sexual harassment. When Clinton-appointed CIA Director R. James Woolsey took over in 1993, the agency embarked on an ambitious plan not only to break the so-called "glass ceiling" but to identify the top 50 jobs within each directorate and collect data on how many women and minority candidates applied and were chosen for the slots.
Although Woolsey promised "we have not and will not set down quotas," the affirmative action plan he put in place soon transmogrified into rigid hiring goals. When Woolsey's replacement, John Deutch, took over, one of his first actions was to establish a "strategic diversity plan." By 1995, Schoenfeld notes, "the effort to remake the agency in the name of 'diversity' had intensified markedly."
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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