Is the CIA a 'Bloated, Dysfunctional Bureaucracy'?

Are Brad Thor’s latest blog posts hyperbolic charges against the CIA as former CIA Director Michael Hayden suggested when he remarked, “From my point of view Brad Thor’s accusations is (sic) pure fantasy.”

Thor claims that the CIA is in a “vicious war against the Department of Defense … and had leaked to the New York Times the names of Americans covertly providing force protection to our troops in Afghanistan.” In an earlier post he stated that the CIA is “impotent” and “better resembles a pack of jilted, jealous teen-aged girls." He went on to write that "the sad fact is that the CIA is a bloated, dysfunctional bureaucracy whose usefulness to America has long since passed.”

Although not “pure fiction," Thor has wrongly connected the dots. Granted, like any other bureaucratic organization, the CIA has issues to address, but the men and women of this agency are the ones who have kept Americans safe.

Thor does not seem to differentiate between the intelligence missions of the military and the CIA. Military intelligence is geared toward gathering tactical information by going out to localities to see what is happening on the ground. The CIA handles the strategic end -- i.e., the big picture -- to enable policy decisions.

With that said, both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Bush Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend told Pajamas Media that when the policy changed from counterterrorism to counterinsurgency, the entire intelligence architecture had to be retooled. Townsend points out that currently, the CIA and military participate in joint ventures where the “CIA has developed the capability both operationally and analytically to support military tactical operations.”

There certainly doesn’t appear to be a turf war between the agencies as evidenced by Secretary of Defense Gates’ comments about Michael Hayden’s leadership at the CIA. In June of 2008, Gates said, “In Iraq and Afghanistan countless lives have been saved through intelligence efforts that have led to the killing or capture of terrorists. … I would argue that there has never been a better fusion of military operations and intelligence in the history of warfare.”

It is very easy for Thor to imply that the agency has “made mistake after mistake after mistake.” How can the agency defend itself? People make false claims because the failures are publicized -- not the successes. Hayden explained that Thor “is shooting the wounded because the Agency can’t fire back at him. The facts that would prove him wrong are actually secret and classified.”