Saturday, April 16, 2005

McGovern on the rare appearance of intestinal fortitude within the US intelligence community

Ray McGovern documents an instance of a seemingly rare trait in US intelligence officials - intestinal fortitude:

Ford emphasized that politicization is the main danger to intelligence analysis. He described politicization as a 'team sport' since at least two are needed—the one exerting political pressure and the 'weasel.' He described in some detail Bolton's attempt to bully an INR analyst into changing his conclusions to fit Bolton's extreme views on Cuba's biological warfare capability. The analyst, who is several grade levels lower than Undersecretary Bolton but no weasel, stood firm and was treated to a torrent of verbal abuse. Later, when Bolton made it clear to Ford that the analyst should be removed, Ford said, in effect, over his dead body.

In the end, the analyst's firmness prevented Bolton from representing his extreme opinions on Cuba as the views of the U.S. intelligence community. (Pity that this INR analyst apparently had no soul mate in courage among intelligence analysts of Iraq elsewhere in the community.) To his credit, Ford gave his analyst strong support. Nonetheless, this crass attempt at politicization threw such a fright into INR analysts that Ford decided to use the incident as an important teaching moment for staff and instituted defense-against-politicization training.

The former INR chief made it clear that he considered Bolton's behavior beyond the pale and told his analysts that, were they to encounter such pressure they had just two requirements: (1) do not bend to it; and (2) report it to the director of INR immediately. Ford reported Bolton's behavior to then-Secretary Powell, and later Powell went over to INR to address the staff and give a highly visible attaboy to the analyst who had stood his ground.

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