Rowan Scarborough has just released Sabotage: America's Enemies Within the CIA and previously authored Rumsfeld's War: The Untold Story of America's Anti-Terrorist Commander. He covers national security for the Washington Examiner and graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He is also a Navy veteran.
Bernard Chapin: Mr. Scarborough, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. For readers who may be unfamiliar, what is the central premise of Sabotage: America's Enemies Within the CIA?
Rowan Scarborough: That elements of the CIA, for petty political differences, conducted guerrilla warfare against the administration. It came in the form of anonymous smears against Bush people leaked to the press. It came in the form of leaks to disclose secret counter-terrorism programs they did not like. There is a new society of former CIA officers formed for the sole purpose of branding Bush as a war criminal. And there are cases where the CIA just did not do the right thing bureaucratically to support Bush, as it should any president. The Wilson-Plame affair is a prime example.
Bernard Chapin: What would you say to those critics who find your position to be counter-intuitive, meaning that why would anyone in the Central Intelligence Agency willingly work against our nation's interests?
Rowan Scarborough: Because there are elements in the CIA who dislike Bush's advisors, and they believe exposing secrets helps the country.
Bernard Chapin: How leftist would you estimate the CIA to be as an organization? You cite a few emblematic examples such as Tyler Drumheller and Ray McGovern but how representative are they of the whole?
Rowan Scarborough: I could not, of course, do a poll of Langley's work force. But based on interviews, I do believe the place became more liberal in the 1990s as the agency pushed out hundreds of longtime employees and the Clintonites put their people in place.
Bernard Chapin: To what extent has the politicization of our universities corrupted the CIA and other government agencies?
Rowan Scarborough: Hard to say. A White House official told me he views Langley like a college campus, with all the baggage it carries for conservatives.
Bernard Chapin: The political left always makes a point of telling us that theirs is an alternative form of patriotism but how can their refusal to protect the nation's interests be construed as anything other than anti-Americanism?
Rowan Scarborough: Because elements at the CIA view opposing the Bush administration as helping America.
Bernard Chapin: You cite some rather painful examples of Republicans being outmaneuvered and totally out-foxed by Democrats (such as with Senator Pat Roberts in the Senate Intelligence Committee). Are Republican politicians ill-equipped to combat the Democrats due to their failing to grasp the way in which many leftists have an anti-American agenda?
Rowan Scarborough: We know that Rockefeller's staff had a plan to politicize the Senate Intelligence Committee. That plan is being carried out today as the committee continues to investigate more issues, at the expensive of oversight. Roberts did not have a working majority. Snowe and Hagel joined the Democrats on several key votes.
Bernard Chapin: What can we possibly do about the left's harmful influence in our intelligence services? We see the way in which the press has created a conflagration over President Bush's dismissal of a few US Attorneys so imagine how they would react to a wide scale weeding out of the CIA?
Rowan Scarborough: A president cannot fire the bureaucracy. The Clinton's did it by slashing the work force, but then inserting some of their loyalists. Bush is adding people, so now would be a good time to change the culture. Focus the bureaucracy on the war, not on politics.
Bernard Chapin: Lastly, do you think that the CIA has outlived its usefulness as an organization? Might we be better off with a solely military apparatus for the gathering of information?
Rowan Scarborough: We need the CIA more today than ever. The world is much more complicated. Al Qaeda is capitalizing on globalization just like corporations. The CIA has many dedicated professionals. They need to become the dominate force inside the agency.
Bernard Chapin is the author of Escape from Gangsta Island and a soon-to-be released book on women. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.