- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004

Mike Scheuer, the veteran Osama bin Laden hunter at the CIA whose anonymously published critique of the war on terror attacked the invasion of Iraq, has been “effectively gagged” to prevent him from speaking out against proposed changes to U.S. intelligence policy supported by President Bush.

“It is inappropriate for CIA personnel to comment on current events unless specifically sanctioned to do so,” said a CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The official said that since Wednesday, Mr. Scheuer — whose best-selling “Imperial Hubris: Why The West Is Losing The War On Terror” was published last month — had been required to give five business days’ notice to the public-affairs office of the CIA of any interviews he intended to conduct and submit “a detailed outline of what he plans to say for approval.”

“We will then decide what is or is not appropriate for him to say,” the official said.

“He has been effectively gagged,” said Mr. Scheuer’s editor, Christina Davidson, of Brassey’s Inc., which published both “Imperial Hubris” and Mr. Scheuer’s first book, “Through Our Enemies Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.”

“This is clearly an effort to stop him from saying what a lot of people in the CIA think about the president’s proposals for reform [of the intelligence community].”

The changes would strip the director of the CIA of his role as the head of the other 14 U.S. intelligence agencies and give that job to a new national intelligence director, who also would take over the role as the president’s top intelligence adviser.

Mr. Scheuer told UPI in an unpublished portion of a recent interview that he thought a structural change was unnecessary.

“You need change in the leadership, and in the personnel,” he said, adding that it was “nonsense” to say — as the September 11 commission report concluded — that the structures for information sharing among intelligence agencies were not already in place. “The FBI has always had agents inside [the CIA counterterrorism center]. Everything we knew, they knew.”

Since the publication of the report and Mr. Bush’s embrace of its recommendation for a new intelligence director, Mr. Scheuer has become more outspoken.

“That’s a recipe for having September 11s forever,” he said of the proposal, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

After interviews in which he slammed the proposal, Miss Davidson said, CIA public affairs began to enforce restrictions on Mr. Scheuer’s press contact.

“For the past couple of months, he just had to report the names of the journalists who had interviewed him after the fact,” she said, “but it was a formality.”

Now with between 70 and 80 requests for interviews pending, “the new process will be extremely arduous,” says Miss Davidson, adding that Mr. Scheuer will have to ask journalists to submit questions in advance and then wait five business days for the public-affairs office to clear the outline of his planned answers.

“I’m not sure reporters will accept those conditions,” she said.

Mr. Scheuer, a two-decade CIA veteran who ran the agency’s Osama bin Laden unit until 1999, was required by his superiors to publish both books anonymously and says he has kept his promise never to reveal his identity. But his authorship was widely known among those who follow the workings of U.S. intelligence, and he was publicly identified last month by the Boston Phoenix.

“Imperial Hubris” is a bitter condemnation of U.S. counterterrorism strategy. In it, Mr. Scheuer argues that the West is losing the war against al Qaeda and that an “avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked” war in Iraq has been a “Christmas present” for bin Laden.

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