11/19/2004

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | CIA memo urging spies to support Bush provokes furore

CIA memo urging spies to support Bush provokes furore
The new US director of central intelligence, Porter Goss, told CIA staff this week their job was 'to support the Bush administration and its policies in our work', stirring a new controversy over the future of the agency.

The memorandum, circulated on Monday, was attacked by critics as an attempt to suppress dissent, particularly over Iraq, and ensure the agency only produces assessments the White House wants to hear.

But a CIA spokesman insisted yesterday that Mr Goss's note was not a call for partisan support but rather 'intelli gence support' intended to help policy-makers in their decisions.

'The Central Intelligence Agency is not a policy organisation,' the spokesman said.

The note comes at a raw time for the agency, in the wake of high-profile resignations and a campaign by Mr Goss to weed out leakers.

Michael Scheuer, a former head of the CIA's 'Bin Laden station', who denounced the Iraq war, said: 'I've never experienced this much anxiety and controversy.'

Mr Sheuer, who resigned last week, added: 'Suddenly political affiliation matters to some degree. The talk is that they're out to clean out Democrats and liberals.

'The administration doesn't seem to be able to come to grips with the reality that it was a stupid thing to do to invade Iraq... If it goes too far like this into the political realm our fortunes overseas are going to be hurt.'

Mr Goss, a Bush appointee, is seeking to use the CIA's counterintelligence department to weed out leakers to the press, a controversial move that has triggered resignations by senior staff who argued it was an inappropriate use of the agency's mole hunters."

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