Journal: CIA and the Culture of Corruption

07 Other Atrocities, 09 Justice, 10 Security, 11 Society, Corruption, Government, Intelligence (government), Methods & Process

CIA and the Culture of Corruption

by: Melvin A. Goodman, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

John Brennan.
CIA Deputy Executive Director John Brennan. (Photo: CSIS: Center for Strategic & International Studies / Flickr)

Last month, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released a blistering report that documented a secret drug interdiction program in Peru that was responsible for the death of an American missionary and her infant daughter in 2001. The report provided a detailed study of the efforts of senior CIA leaders, including Deputy Director John McLaughlin and Deputy Executive Director John Brennan, to cover up the crime by stonewalling the White House, the Congress and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the flaws of the interdiction program.

Brennan, who was President Obama's original choice to be CIA director until the report complicated the confirmation process, is currently the deputy director of the National Security Council (NSC).McLaughlin was the “villain” in the politicization of intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, according to the chief of the Iraq Survey Group, David Kay. Few people remember that it was McLaughlin who actually delivered the “slam-dunk” briefing to the president in January 2003. Nevertheless, the Obama administration named McLaughlin to lead the internal investigation of the CIA's intelligence failures in the attempted bombing of a commercial airliner and the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

The detailed report on Peru documents a culture of corruption and deceit at the highest levels of the CIA as well as the interventions of CIA lawyers to stop the DOJ from pursuing prosecutions in the case. The CIA office of general counsel's aggressive campaign to prevent a criminal prosecution of the agency officers culminated with Deputy Director McLaughlin's letter to the assistant attorney general that promised “significant disciplinary action” if CIA officers “lied or made knowingly misleading statements” to the Congress, DOJ, the NSC or office of inspectors general (OIG) investigators. The report carefully documents the lies and the stonewalling, but there was never any genuine punishment.

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Melvin A. Goodman is national security and intelligence columnist for Truthout. He is senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and adjunct professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. His 42-year government career included service at the CIA, State Department, Defense Department and the US Army. His latest book is Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA.

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