Robert Novak

 A few hours later, Pillar discussed the Iraqi war in a context of increased aversion to the U.S. -- an attitude he said his East Asia section at the CIA was aware of three years ago and feared would be exacerbated by U.S. military intervention. When Pillar was asked why this was not made clear to the president and other higher authorities, his answer was that nobody asked -- not even DCI Tenet.

 The CIA official spokesman said Pillar's West Coast appearance was approved by his "management team" at Langley as part of an ongoing "outreach" program. However, the spokesman said, Pillar told him that the fact I knew his name meant somebody had violated the off-the-record nature of his remarks. In other words, the CIA bureaucracy wants a license to criticize the president and the former DCI without being held accountable.

 Through most of the Bush administration, the CIA high command has been engaged in a bitter struggle with the Pentagon. CIA officials refer to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Under Secretary Douglas Feith as "ideologues." Nevertheless, it is clear the CIA's wrath has now extended to the White House. Bush reduced the tensions a little on Thursday, this time in a joint Washington press conference with Allawi, by saying his use of the word "guess" was "unfortunate."

 Modern history is filled with intelligence bureaus turning against their own governments, for good or ill. In the final days of World War II, the German Abwehr conspired against Hitler. Soviet intelligence was a state within a state. More recently, Pakistani intelligence was plotting with Muslim terrorists. The CIA is a long way from those extremes, but it is supposed to be a resource -- not a critic -- for the president.


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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