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Obamamania At The Cia


Not to be ornery, but is it really appropriate for CIA officers to cheer the president--as they did during Obama's visit to Langley yesterday--as though they're at a political pep rally? (The beginning of this video gives you some of the flavor.)

I guess it's comforting to see that the entire agency doesn't resent Obama for releasing the torture memos. But the people at yesterday's event almost certainly weren't from the clandestine operations side of the CIA, which handles the nasty work. (For one thing, I assume operations agents wouldn't be in a room with TV cameras.) So the happy people present were most likely analysts. And unlike, say, Marines, analysts are not supposed to be unconditional cheerleaders for the president. Their first loyalty should be to the truth, whatever its political implications. The Bushies resented the CIA because they thought it was out to undermine them. And while some Democrats may have liked that dynamic, it's also dangerous if the agency is simply out to please Obama.

I know there's only so much you can infer about the entire CIA from one room of maybe a couple hundred people. But yesterday's display just struck me as somehow inappropriate.

P.S. Lots of news reports have specified that CIA director Leon Panetta opposed the release of those torture memos. Somehow I don't think that fact was ferreted from the 'no-drama' Obama team by dogged reporting, but rather that the White House had to let it be known to position Panetta as the agency's advocate--thereby ensuring his internal support, especially among clandestine officers who reportedly feel they've been getting thrown under the bus and may not completely trust an intel-world outsider like Panetta.  

--Michael Crowley