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Obama warned on CIA

A former CIA deep-cover spy says President-elect Barack Obama needs to radically reshape what he terms the “dysfunctional” CIA — or face more strategic intelligence failures.

Ishmael Jones, the pseudonym for a former Marine and recently retired CIA case officer, said in an interview that despite intelligence reform efforts in the post-Sept. 11 era, “the CIA bureaucracy has mutated into a living creature that serves its own aims.”

The retired CIA officer, an Arabic speaker and 20-year veteran, stated in his recently published book, “The Human Factor,” that the CIA’s clandestine service should be streamlined and given clear marching orders and more focus on its mission: recruiting and handling human spies while avoiding trivial sources.

The officer wrote of his frustration as an overseas agent recruiter who couldn’t make a phone call without five bureaus at CIA headquarters first approving it.

He also wrote that “most” CIA employees work in the United States but that there is an urgent need to “get the CIA spying on and in foreign countries.”

The officer said in the interview that fixing the CIA will not be easy. “While the CIA is unable to run effective human source operations, it has a raptorlike efficiency when it comes to defending itself and its growth,” he said. “The CIA’s myriad offices and wealthy contracting companies are constituents of congressional districts, and they wield lobbying power to protect CIA funding.”

Also, he thinks CIA managers will give the new president impressive “dog and pony show” briefings “to make the CIA look busy.”

Money is not the problem. The former CIA nonofficial cover officer said one post-2001 CIA program got $3 billion to deploy more operations officers outside U.S. embassies overseas but “has been unable to field a single additional effective officer.”

The former spy recommends putting the military in charge of foreign spying and transferring foreign intelligence liaison carried out at U.S. embassies to the State Department. The FBI should take charge of the CIA’s domestic activities, he said.

For the president-elect, the former CIA officer’s message is this: “You must ruthlessly reform the CIA bureaucracy, or its failures will attack and destroy your presidency. Fix the CIA, and you will protect the lives and freedom of Americans and our allies.”

Asked for comment, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said: “When it comes to books about espionage with the title ‘The Human Factor,’ the one that’s truly worth reading is the one by Graham Greene.”

Iranian tech threat

A senior Republican senator asked Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson recently to conduct a national security review of the proposed joint venture between California-based computer chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and a company in the Persian Gulf state of United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“I believe that there are a number of serious issues that require thorough vetting to guarantee this transaction does not pose a risk to U.S. national security,” Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona stated in the Nov. 18 letter.

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About the Author

Bill Gertz INSIDE THE RING

Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...

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