A former CIA analyst (1966-1990) deplores what he argues is the increasing deleterious politicization of the agency.
In his latest book, Goodman—who has taught at the National War College, held other intelligence-related positions, and written earlier accounts of what he sees as a very troubled agency (Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, 2008, etc.)—thoroughly rages against the corruption he has viewed in the highest ranks of the CIA. There are themes and incidents that he strikes repeatedly like clamorous gongs: President Harry Truman’s original vision of the CIA, the author’s 1991 appearance before a Congressional committee to oppose the appointment of Robert Gates as Director of the CIA, the defense of Edward Snowden, and the failures of the mainstream media to pay attention to the politicization of the agency. Goodman takes shots at pretty much everyone (save himself and his wife, who also served in the agency), including all the presidents since Truman, the media, and virtually all the CIA directors (save the ones in charge when he began in the 1960s). He continually administers severe hammer strokes to President George W. Bush and his team for the Iraq War and for the false/distorted intelligence they used to whip up public support. But the bone he simply cannot release bears the face of Gates. Repeatedly, he tells us that he and Gates were once friends and then follows with accounts of one egregious Gates deed/maneuver/lie after another. (Unfortunately, he repeats them often, sometimes with similar diction.) The author also savages Gates’ memoirs and returns constantly to the 1991 Congressional testimony. Over and over, we hear about Gates’ rise in the agency, which Goodman attributes to callous, unethical manipulations. The author does provide some useful inside information about other notable cases—Iran-Contra, Aldrich Ames, and the Patriot Act.
The causes of Goodman’s vitriol are indeed worrisome, but his countless repetitions grow wearisome.