[Media-watch] Insider leaks to reporters spread as CIA turns wary on Iraq - Editor and Publisher - 29/09/2004

Julie-ann Davies jadavies2004 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Oct 1 23:24:53 BST 2004


 Insider Leaks to Reporters Spread as CIA Turns Wary on Iraq

By E&P Staff

Published: September 29, 2004 11:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK Conditions in Iraq appear to be deteriorating so badly that CIA 
officials are now leaking to reporters left and right, signaling a new 
dynamic in press coverage of the war. Columnist Robert Novak noted this on 
Monday in a column titled, "Is CIA at War With Bush?"

The latest example: today's Washington Post, which includes a lengthy 
article by veteran war-at-home watchers Dana Priest and Thomas E. Ricks, 
based mainly on anonymous insider comments. They explain that many 
interviewed would only talk anonymously, "either because they don't have 
official authorization to speak or because they worry about ramifications of 
criticizing top administration officials."

Priest and Ricks write, "A growing number of career professionals within 
national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, 
and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public 
by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current 
government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence 
officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.

"While President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have 
delivered optimistic public appraisals, officials who fight the Iraqi 
insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the 
Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than 
is being publicly acknowledged, officials say."

"People at the CIA 'are mad at the policy in Iraq because it's a disaster, 
and they're digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper,' said one former 
intelligence officer who maintains contact with CIA officials. 'There's no 
obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state 
hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments.'

"'Things are definitely not improving,' said one U.S. government official 
who reads the intelligence analyses on Iraq.

"'It is getting worse,' agreed an Army staff officer who served in Iraq and 
stays in touch with comrades in Baghdad through e-mail. 'It just seems there 
is a lot of pessimism flowing out of theater now. There are things going on 
that are unbelievable to me. They have infiltrators conducting attacks in 
the Green Zone. That was not the case a year ago.'"

On Monday, columnist Novak criticized the CIA and Paul Pillar, a national 
intelligence officer. Novak said comments Pillar made about Iraq during a 
private dinner in California showed that he and others at the CIA are at war 
with the president. Pillar had not spoken for the record, but Novak 
published his remarks and name anyway., noting that he is "no covert 

Novak also charged that "the CIA bureaucracy wants a license to criticize 
the president....without being held accountable."

In their article on Wednesday, Priest and Ricks quote a CIA official saying, 
"I'm not surprised if people in the administration were put on the 
defensive. We weren't trying to make them look bad, we're just trying to 
give them information. Of course, we're telling them something they don't 
want to hear."

And an Army staff officer told the two Post reporters, "They keep telling us 
that Iraqi security forces are the exit strategy, but what I hear from the 
ground is that they aren't working," he said. "There's a feeling that Iraqi 
security forces are in cahoots with the insurgents and the general public to 
get the occupiers out."

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