- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Politicized CIA

“Gallons of ink have been spilled since 2003 about how the Bush administration ignored internal predictions of post-war instability, terrorism and rising Islamism in Iraq,” Danielle Pletka writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“Intelligence, critics argue, was ‘cherry-picked’ to bolster the argument for war. What much of the public doesn’t realize is that the CIA’s Monday-morning quarterbacks, who originated many of the complaints, are themselves handpicking intelligence to boost their anti-war cause,” wrote the vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

“This is a well-trodden road, littered with bitter treatises and interviews from ex-spooks and hangers-on such as Michael Scheuer, the ‘anonymous’ author of ‘Imperial Hubris,’ and former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his ex-CIA wife, Valerie Plame. The latest offering comes from Paul Pillar, a former CIA deputy counterterrorism chief, in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs.

“But Pillar, while rehashing every myth about the run-up to the Iraq war (and adding a few new ones), inadvertently lays bare a rarely discussed Washington truth: that the CIA itself is a political organization. Far from being manipulated by policymakers within the Bush administration (as Pillar alleges), it is the agency that has regularly and aggressively used its intelligence gathering and analysis to bolster preformed political opinions about hot-button issues from the Cold War to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“Prevailing CIA views shine through in briefings to the U.S. government, in backgrounders to reporters and in the selective leaking of classified information. The agency recruits (and rejects) outside assets based on its own political priorities. And why not? In a town where even first-graders hold passionate political views, it seems hardly surprising that a player so integral to sensitive policymaking would too. The only shock about the politicization of the agency is that officials bother to deny it.”

UNESCO’s hero

“Here’s one for you: Early this month, in front of 200,000 screaming supporters in Havana’s Revolutionary Square, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro bestowed Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez with UNESCO’s 2005 International Jose Marti Prize for promoting Latin American heritage, liberty and values,” PeterBrookes writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Huh? Chavez? Liberty?

“I’m not sure what the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization folks are ‘partaking’ of, in their cushy Paris headquarters, but the notion that Venezuela’s caudillo is deserving of an award espousing these ideals (not to mention presented by Castro in Havana) simply boggles the mind,” said Mr. Brookes, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow whose commentary first appeared in the New York Post.

“It might be time for Washington to reconsider its membership in — and its $80 million-plus contribution to — this misguided U.N. agency.

“But hold on — it gets worse. Not only was giving the award to Chavez a searing insult to the real Jose Marti, a 19th century Cuban liberal thinker who opposed all forms of tyranny; the event also turned into a raucous anti-American hate-fest pumped-up by blistering Chavez and Castro speeches.”

McGavick vs. Cantwell

“Republicans haven’t won a statewide election in Washington state for a top-tier office (president, Senate, governor) since 1994,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

President Bush lost the state by five percentage points in 2000, seven in 2004. Over the past 75 years, Republicans have won Senate races in Washington only five times. And three of those victories were achieved by a single person, Slade Gorton, who was defeated for re-election in 2000. ‘This is a miserable state’ for Republicans, Gorton says. And 2006 ‘isn’t a good year.’

“It gets worse. Washington has none of the attributes of a red state. Traditional values are not a primary concern. Political correctness is. Washington is the most secular state in the country, as measured by regular church attendance. So the political network of evangelical Christians here is relatively small.

“And it is well-off, a problem because upper middle class voters here tend to be liberal. In 2004, John Kerry beat President Bush among Washington voters with more than $100,000 in income. Last, a statewide candidate had better care about the environment. ‘Everybody here is an environmentalist,’ says Chris Vance, who recently stepped down as Republican state chairman.

“Yet despite these obstacles, Republicans have a realistic chance of capturing the Senate seat now held by Democrat Maria Cantwell, 47, who ousted Gorton six years ago. The reason is the Republican candidate, Mike McGavick, a former insurance executive and titan of the Seattle business and civic community. To be successful in Washington, Vance says, a Republican candidate must be ‘conservative enough to unite the base, moderate enough to win.’ And McGavick, 48, ‘fits perfectly.’ The McGavick election strategy, says his campaign manager, IanGoodnow, is simple: ‘It’s him.’”

Pataki’s condition

New York Gov. George E. Pataki was transferred to a New York City hospital yesterday because he was showing no improvement five days after surgeons removed his appendix.

Mr. Pataki’s intestines aren’t functioning, and he is being given water and nutrients intravenously, said Dr. Wiji Ratnathicam, a surgeon at Hudson Valley Hospital Center, where the governor had been treated before the transfer.

“He’s essentially in the same condition that he has been in for the past few days,” said Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo. “It’s obviously a situation that needs to be corrected.”

Mr. Pataki, 60, checked himself into Hudson Valley Hospital Center early Thursday complaining of severe abdominal pain. His appendix, which had begun to rupture, was removed during emergency surgery.

The governor was initially to be released Saturday, but he was still showing no improvement Tuesday, so he was transferred to New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, where doctors have access to more resources, Mr. Catalfamo said.

Mr. Pataki was alert and in good spirits, Mr. Catalfamo said. The three-term Republican governor is considering a run for president in 2008.

Fellow Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky also remained hospitalized Tuesday after contracting a blood infection while recovering from gallbladder surgery last week. The bacteria in Mr. Fletcher’s blood was moderately resistant to antibiotics, but treatment seems to be working, doctors said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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