Porter Goss: Director of the Central Harrassment Agency

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goss.jpg
(CIA Director Goss Swearing Oath We Think He Has Forgotten)
Dear CIA Director Goss:

You were once a member of the U.S. Congress. You represented constituents and swore an oath to defend and protect our system of government, our Constitution.
A secrecy-obsessed national security bureacracy may be a necessity on some fronts, but democracy requires that it be limited. Attempting to squelch retired CIA personnel from speaking to the public or media is absolutely outrageous and inconsistent with our form of democracy.
You are completely out of line and have forgotten what your oath to this nation was all about.
You are fast becoming a caricature of a person so obsessed with leaks that you break the system in order to save it. Your harrassment of former CIA staff is unacceptable and your attempts to stifle the civil society of this country is antithetical to what democracy is about.
Turn this harrassment policy you have launched against former staff around.
Don’t become the Dr. Strangelove of national intelligence and the CIA.
Sincerely,
Steven Clemons
The Washington Note

This is what I had to send to the CIA Director this morning after reading Demetri Sevastopulo’s important piece that ex-CIA agents are being harrassed and threatened by Goss for any “unauthorized” meetings with the press or media.
Sevatopulo writes:

The Central Intelligence Agency has warned former employees not to have unapproved contacts with reporters, as part of a mounting campaign by the administration to crack down on officials who leak information on national security issues.
A former official said the CIA recently warned several retired employees who have consulting contracts with the agency that they could lose their pensions by talking to reporters without permission. He added that while the threats might be legally “hollow,” they were having a chilling effect on former employees.
The CIA called the allegations “rubbish”. Jennifer Millerwise Dyke, spokeswoman for CIA director Porter Goss, said former employees with consulting deals could lose their contracts for violating the CIA secrecy agreement by having unauthorised conversations with reporters. But she stressed that under current law, “termination of a contract does not affect pensions”.
The clampdown represents the latest move in what observers describe as the most aggressive government campaign against leaks in years. The Justice Department is investigating the disclosure to the media of secret overseas CIA prisons and a highly classified National Security Agency domestic spying programme authorised by President George W. Bush. Last week, the CIA fired Mary McCarthy, an intelligence officer, for allegedly leaking classified information and having undisclosed contacts with reporters.
Mr Goss has increased the number of “single issue” polygraphs — lie detector tests aimed at ferreting out leaking employees. A second former official said Mr Goss was trying to “scare everybody” by using polygraphs aggressively.
Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former CIA general counsel, said Mr Goss was “obviously taking a much more forward-leaning stance than any of us have seen for years”. But another former intelligence official said the agency was simply returning to a “more conservative regimen” to remind employees that they work for a secret organisation.

The bottom line that Porter Goss needs to know is that former agents and CIA officials go into journalism, think tanks, work on the Hill, work for corporations, or go into numerous NGOs. They are part of a vast, networked group of former CIA staffers who try to meld back into society after working “on the inside”.
Certainly, some material they know is classified and should not be disclosed unless those in power are engaged in serial abuses of power — which I think parts of this administration are, particularly when it comes to policies dealing with torture, rendition, and the secret detention and disappearing of prisoners.
But to try and shut down all “unauthorized” meetings and discussions with the media is like putting them in a silo for the rest of their lives. This is outrageous and assures that if he doesn’t change course — which I hope he does — when Goss finally leaves the CIA, he will leave as one of the single most detested directors there.
And everything he is doing now will be reversed. This “police state” stuff has gone far too far.
— Steve Clemons
Update:
More on the CIA’s “political appropriateness” squeeze by National Journal‘s Shane Harris.

Comments

36 comments on “Porter Goss: Director of the Central Harrassment Agency

  1. konteyner says:

    the comments as well although I would prefer we all
    keep it on topic in order add value to the subject.

    Reply

  2. söve says:

    Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.

    Reply

  3. hydrocodone says:

    Nice blog, best design. Thanks!

    Reply

  4. john mccarthy says:

    Bias and ignorance belong in the same hysteria as sources and methods. Any one reading this know the difference between covert and clandestine?
    http://www.geocities.com/larryjodaniel/17.html
    http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/hall.Mac.html
    This matter is not yet settled and neither is the scam of 911’s mass murder.
    http://johnmccarthy90066.tripod.com/id120.html

    Reply

  5. Andy S says:

    To think that an organization like the CIA would NOT try to control X employees from speaking freely to the press is wishful at best. With the type of information these employees are exposed to the CIA MUST take all necessary steps to keep that information from getting out! If this means putting a lid on X employees, go for it. This isn’t a power play; it is a necessary move to protect names of individuals who have helped our nation through the CIA conduit. Do not be so quick to make judgment like many o you made responding to this article, it simply shows your bias and ignorance.

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  6. steambomb says:

    Hmmm lets seeeeee. Secrecy? Some dumb ass tells a pilot he can land a U.S. Spy Plane on Chinese soil. Entirely against the code of military conduct which dictates to die before you surrender national secrets to a foreign power. Numba 2 … The Plame outing and the blowing of Brewster and Jennings cover. No I think that Goss is purging non loyal agents and the reason he is threatening the retired ones is that this administration is now engaging in a desperation cover up. They know they are about to be fried. They also know that if convicted for their crimes they may in fact spend the rest of their lives in prison if not be shot for treason. It hasn’t become every man for himself yet. They know that if it ever comes to that they will not be able to defend themselves.

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  7. ChatRobot says:

    Ms. McCarthy was only two weeks away from retiring when she was fired.
    —————–
    Padfiles.net: http://www.padfiles.net
    Chatrobot.net: http://www.chatrobot.net
    —————–

    Reply

  8. wren says:

    Assume Porter Goss leaves the CIA in disgrace. What happens next?

    Reply

  9. Carroll says:

    Dear Mr Lake..let me share some of my recently reoccuring de ja vou moments with you…just so you will understand the differences of which we are speaking…
    They Thought They Were Free
    The Germans, 1933-45
    Milton Mayer
    “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security.”
    “This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process.
    Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.
    “Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow.
    “But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
    “Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing).

    Reply

  10. Pissed Off American says:

    BTW, someone might wanna ask Goss about his meeting with Mahmoud Ahmed, and why the alleged financier of Mohammed Atta has neither been arrested nor pursued.

    Reply

  11. Pissed Off American says:

    Here is a politician who has been working tirelessly to oppose these sons of bitches in Bush’s cabinet, yet has NEVER been mentioned, to my knowledge, on this blog by Steve. Yet some here are chastised for failing to laud the belated murmurings of the complicit Bushlickers who are now, after the expendure of hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives, finally beginning to “do the right thing”.
    It is time people like Conyers not only got some RECOGNITION for their unflinching patriotism, but actually got some SUPPORT with their ongoing efforts to salvage a democracy out of this Bush driven FIASCO of corruption and malfeasance.
    Get off the fence, Steve.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-conyers/taking-the-president-to-c_b_19943.html

    Reply

  12. Tony Foresta says:

    Secrecy is one thing, and we all understand why it is necessary and where it is appropriate and applicable, – suppressing dissent, facts, and the truth however is something entirely different.
    Outing an agency WMD operative and operation in an act of political revenge, selling sensitive data to foriegn agents who could or might use that information to harm America, or America’s interests, willfully divulging information endangering or undermining America’s security or prosperity are obvious examples of why secrecy is necessary – and why it is an act of treason to breach or compromize that secracy.
    Affording whistleblowers the opportunity to address and remedy obvious blatant, naked, and obscene abuses, and or misuses of power or authortiy is one of the critical lynchpins to a stable democracy.
    Preventing individuals from exposing, revealing, or speaking publically about injustices, abuses, deceptions, dereliction of duty, catastrophic failures, and wanton profiteering – especially when it involves agencies or individuals in the government a grievous affront to the 1st Amendment, a betrayal of the peoples right to transparancy and accountability from our government.
    The nazification of America continues unabated.
    “Deliver us from evil.”

    Reply

  13. ecoast says:

    This is all so reprehensible and all that, but it is so… 4 hours ago.
    The latest is: Goss may have been a player in Duke Cunningham parties and prostitutes.
    Linda’s post above has tpmmuckraker link.

    Reply

  14. linda says:

    porter goss may have other issues (bwahahaha):
    Ken Silverstein reports at Harper’s blog on the spreading Cunningham-Wade-Wilkes prostitute scandal. He says more lawmakers, past and present, are being investigated. Sounds like he thinks House Intel Chair-turned-CIA Director Porter Goss is one of them:
    I’ve learned from a highly-connected source that those under intense scrutiny by the FBI are current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence comittees — including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post. [emphasis added]
    Yowzah.
    Actually, make that a double-yowzah: Remember that Goss is the one who plucked one of Wilkes’ old San Diego friends, the unusual and colorful Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, out of CIA middle-management obscurity to be his #3 at the agency. At the time of Foggo’s appointment, no one could figure out where he came from, or how Goss knew him.
    http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/000494.php

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  15. Marky says:

    There is no evidence McCarthy was caught doing anything illegal—no public charges or statements from the administration. She denies leaking.
    “To Marky”: lay off the Kool-Aid. Even Tony Snow swears off that stuff.

    Reply

  16. Kathleen says:

    If Goss is so all fired upset about CIA leaks, why hasn’t he fired the person who caused the computer glitch that outed the entire undercover CIA operation on WMD’s in Iran?(James Risen, State of War) Was that “glitch” before or after Plame was outed? She was working on WMD’s in Iran. What proof is there that it was in fact a “glitch”? What, if anything happened, to that person for releasing classified info that shut the whole operation down or did they want to purge the CIA of any weapons experts who actually know the truth about Iran who can convincingly disagree with Busholini?
    I think the dark view is the truth with this regime.
    While we’re on this kind of topic, I’d like to know, who in D.C. altered former FBI agent Colleen Rowley’s sworn affidavit, requesting a subpoena to go into a 9/11 higacker’s compuiter. Sworn affidavits are evidence and changing someone’s sworn testimony is tampering with evidence. The changes caused her request to be denied, letting 9/11 proceed as planned. Anything happen to that person? Collen Rowley’s Pre 9/11 thinking would have prevented it, but did you see anyone punished for that? Not even after Colleen Rowley was forced to hand deliver her testimony to the Senate. If not for her, there would have been no 9/11 Commission. I hope she wins her race for Congress. We need tons more people with her kind of sharp attention to detail and devotion to our country.

    Reply

  17. Marica says:

    To The Realist:
    This nation most especially needs protection from a reckless, incompentent and immoral administration that has an imperative need to hide all their marked cards. In Bush’s simple- minded talk, “Dead or Alive,” and Cheney’s underhanded deals, too numerous to mention, there is need for a stable boy to clean the stalls. Goss is a political flunky chosen for just such tasks.
    The systematic destruction of the normal channels of control lead inexorably to such pervasion of power.
    Steve is so right, torture, rendition, secret detention and disappearing of prisoners are serial abuses of power. These are crimes, so like all criminals they must hide their crimes.

    Reply

  18. Alan Lewis says:

    All,
    Having finally read the Sevastopulo article carefully (my bad), I now see that even Judge Spokin agrees that this intimidation is WAY beyond the pale. Steve is correct on this one.
    There is a distinction between political dissent and commmentary by former CIA employees (completely legal and indeed laudable, see e.g., Larry Johnson) and the disclosure by them of classified information (obviously, a really big “no-no.”) I agree that there should be inquiry into whether former CIA employees speaking to the press who agree with the current regime are receiving these nasty grams. I bet they are not. If that is the case, I think Goss has got some explaining to do. there is also a law that prohibits Federal employees to use the offices of the US Government for overtly partisan purposes (someone help me here, Hatch Act, I think). Maybe Dems in Congress ought to be looking into whether Goss is violating the Hatch Act?
    –Alan.

    Reply

  19. to Marky says:

    be reasonable. The CIA is full of Kerry sympathizers and you expect that just one who is out the door in a week gets singled out? besides she was caught red handed doing something illegal. stop trying to make this woman into a martyr. if she really felt that strongly about what she was sharing she would’ve done it in the open, not under the cover of secrecy.

    Reply

  20. bob mcmanus says:

    “And everything he is doing now will be reversed.”
    Rove has often mentioned his attraction to Mark Hannah and the “spoils” era, and I am afraid the Rpublicans have returned us to an era in which non-partisan civil servants are an endangered species. The Bush administration has packed all Executive depts and agencies with zealots and saboteurs.
    It is radical, but the first move of a Democratic President, should one ever get elected, should be to summarily fire hundreds of thousands of federal employees hired by the Bush administration. And hire no one who is not a lifelong Democrat. Any Democratic branch of Congress must contribute to the purge to the extent possible.

    Reply

  21. Carroll says:

    AMEN!
    Send more letters Steve.
    I don’t think Porter is afraid of the ex’ers telling security secrets ….as much as he is of them confirming what we already know about the adm’s Iraq lies .

    Reply

  22. Shaneekwa says:

    Not gonna speak for others, but I’m for one am not defending Goss. I’m defending the work of the CIA, which MUST operate by stealth in reliance on SECRETS to confront real threats facing the nation. Moreover, it’s a virtual certainty that CIA agents are LEGALLY required to protect the secrets entrusted to them during their time on the job and after. If anyone knows otherwise, please enlighten us. Does anyone know if the whistleblower law provides an exemption to those requirements for CIA agents? That would be interesting and a good way for agents to breach secrecy requirements when they determine that the CIA’s work is being perverted by corrupt government officials.

    Reply

  23. 0701 says:

    For Eli Lake; There is a difference between leaking for political gain – Miller; promoting an unnecessary war, and McCarthy; leaking for the public good exposing the lies that promoted that war.

    Reply

  24. Marky says:

    I don’t understand the defenders of Goss.
    Of course former employees have restrictions on what they can say, but to put a blanket ban on speaking to journalists is outrageous.
    Furthermore, I will wager a large amount of money that the ban is observably not in place for Republican ex-CIA officers.
    As far as the McCarthy case goes, we have no solid knowledge that she was a leaker at all.
    It is equally plausible that she was fired because she gave money to John Kerry in 2004.

    Reply

  25. Alan Lewis says:

    Steve:
    I completely understand your disdain. However, isn’t it true that all CIA personnel are required to sign very stringent Non-Disclosure Agreements upon their initial employment with the Agency and don’t those Agreements require a certain amount of forbearance from a former Agency employee EVEN AFTER they have left the CIA’s employ? Wasn’t it always that way? I have no actual knowledge of the terms of these types of NDAs (if in fact they exist) and I am not familiar with what is considered “standard practice” for folks in the intel trade. But though I thoroughly agree that the Bush regime, and all of its enablers, cross the line over and over, I just wonder if your piece wasn’t a bit shrill, if in fact silence has been contractually expected from former CIA personnel for a long time. If I’m wrong about the NDAs and this is clear politicization, then just disregard this post and please keep your outrage loud and clear.
    –Alan.

    Reply

  26. Eli Lake says:

    Weren’t you leading the charge for the unprecedented federal leak prosecutions against Franklin? Didn’t you rail on about Judith Miller, who had refused to participate under threat of jail in the leak investigation into Libby? I agree, I don’t want any enforcement of the espionage act’s anti-leak provisions, but for you to send this letter to Goss, of all people, is a bit of chutzpah.

    Reply

  27. Shaneekwa says:

    I agree with both Realist and anonymous. Notice, however, how rarely the words “secret” and “secrecy” are used openly in public discourse by journalists and commentators regarding commercial activity, political strategizing and, yes, even in international affairs. The elephant in the room whose necessity no one wants to confront head on?

    Reply

  28. dahreese says:

    For the “Realist” above, the kind of secrecy that you support is what harms the public interest and safety of the nation, not those who reveal the abusers of the political system (which is so “secretly” rampant).
    It’s probably never occured to you that it isn’t necessary to have a visible military on every street cornor for a nation to be living under martial law (for example, the provisions of the so called “Patriot Act(s)” which govern the everyday activities of honest, patriotic American citizens and allow government agencies to listen in on private conversations without justifying that necessity via court approval).
    You are living under martial law whether you recognize it or admit it or not.
    I opposed the unjust attacking of Iraq, and still do, however some good has come out of it via the exposing of just how corrupt and easily bought off our congress is.
    Forget the nice little sanitized, idealistic tale we teach our school children about the “honest” ways in which our government operates. Don’t you wish it did?
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

    Reply

  29. ckrantz says:

    I may be mistaken but wasn’t the whole purpose of having Goss as a CIA director to get a more politically reliable CIA.

    Reply

  30. anonymous says:

    Ah yes, secrecy. It’s the fatal flaw of the spook business. (See the book, The Second Oldest Profession). Intelligence must be secret to be effective. Therefore there’s no possibilty of competition or oversight (Congression oversight is laughable) to keep it in reasonable bounds. Therefore, any one of an infinite number of sins erupts–jobs that don’t get done, abuses of all sorts to name two generic problems.
    As to the prior comment, it’s competition that keeps the secrecy issues in private entreprise within reasonable bounds. In industries where there is little competition (cartels, monopolies, regulated industries that capture the regulators to name a few), secrecy abuses look very much like what is apparent in the spook business.
    So to protect us poor citizen slobs, leakers are crucial. They’re our only hope.

    Reply

  31. Realist says:

    Secrecy is a necessary feature of competitive commercial activity. Secrecy is an indispensable feature of diplomacy and military efforts. To expect the CIA not to punish employees who fail to respect their duty to protect the secrets entrusted to them is laughable. There is not a single journalist in Washington who does not suffer from diarrhea of the mouth or the keyboard. Every single person (journalist or former CIA agent) seeking to create a book deal opportunity or increase their blog traffic has an interest in collecting secrets and sharing them or selling them for their own advantage and monetary enrichment. Such efforts can harm the public interest and the safety of the nation.

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  32. in extremis says:

    (a) – Mary McCarthy was, officially, two weeks away from retiring from the CIA when she got “fired”.
    (b) – Change will come from outside the USA. Globalization is not a one way road.

    Reply

  33. Punchy says:

    Here’s betting that if those “leaks” show Iran to have sped up U238 enrichment, that instead of lie detectors, there’ll be medals.
    Wow, to so politicize an agency with the power to spy on everyone and everything about anything may just be the harbinger for the end of all things private. I do believe, however, this is exactly why Goss was brought in.

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  34. erichwwk says:

    While anon may well be correct in what has been happening with domestic police (Rumsfeld still has more control over foreign intelligence/corporate police), I commend Steve for sending the letter, and more importantly, taking a public stand on the outrageous policy of secrecy. While this administration did not invent secrecy, Rumsfeld and Cheney have indeed been at the forefront to ensure that democracy is undermined, and the will of the people does not interfer with plutocracy and the furtherance of a dictatorship for decades.
    As much as the misguided ME policy and the attempt at hegemony, I suspect the rebellion in the military hierarchy is due as much to the realization that the military is being subverted from protecting the Constitution to protecting the wishes of the executive branch. I only wish more had Steve’s courage, and willingness to take a public stand on the issue of secrecy.
    In fact, were I empowered to make three small changes in the Constitution, one would be to extend the 2/3 super majority rule required to validate executive treaties to the appointment of Supreme Court Judges. The second would be to enable a minority (1/3?) to hold Congressional hearings. And the third would be to criminialize any effort by politicians to withhold, or cause to be withheld, ANY information regarding the use of public funds and public personnel. This tyranny of the simple majority, enabled by a policy of secrecy, will be our downfall as a nation, if not corrected. While one can make the case that there are benefits to secrecy, in allmost ALL instances, there is a stronger case to be made that the costs outweigh the benefits. I argue MOST OF THE CAUSES of the “terrorist threat” , as well as the excess of military expenditures we face today, is DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE to this policy of secrecy. IN fact, I would argue that one cannot have BOTH secrecy and a democratic, libertarian society.
    My hat is off to Steve for the letter!! Please continue, until this political dictatorship falls, we restore control over the use of nuclear weapons to Congress, and some semblance of democracy is restored to America.

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  35. vaughan says:

    This just seems so, so…Soviet. Does it matter if the retired CIA staff are members of “The Party”?

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  36. anonymous says:

    Oh, grow up. The whole purpose of putting Goss/Negroponte in charge of (laughingly-referred-to-as) intelligence is to make sure it doesn’t get in the way of what W wants to do. That was an important motive in outing Plame, who apparently worked on Iran’s programs.

    Reply

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