Sunday, July 29, 2007

CIA Blunders Outlined In New Book

The CIA thought it had an intelligence coup on its hands in 1994. Its friends in the Guatemalan military were bugging the bedroom of Marilyn McAfee, the American ambassador in that country, whom they regarded as suspect because she was fighting human rights abuses by the regime.

Eavesdroppers heard her whispering sweet nothings to someone whom they took to be her secretary, another female diplomat - and the CIA set out to undermine Mrs McAfee by spreading rumours in Washington that she was a lesbian.

There was just one problem. The ambassador, who was happily married, was not having an affair with her secretary. The secret microphones had instead recorded her "cooing endearments" to Murphy, her poodle.

The mistake is just one example of bungling by the CIA chronicled in a new history of the agency by the Pulitzer prize-winning author, Tim Weiner, who has covered intelligence matters for The New York Times for two decades.

His book draws on 50,000 documents in the CIA's archives, dating back to 1947, the year it was founded, and more than 300 interviews with staff, past and present, including 10 former directors. Weiner concludes that "the most powerful nation in the history of Western civilisation has failed to create a first-rate spy service" - a failure, he argues, that is a danger to American security.

Read more......


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