A VICIOUS ATTACK ON PORTER GOSS. By ... Porter Goss! George W. Bush's pick to run the CIA told Michael Moore last spring that there was no way he could be hired by the CIA today. The interview - an outtake from Fahrenheit 9/11 - has been posted on Moore's website. You should watch it, but here's what Goss told Moore:
It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late '50s to approximately the early '70s. And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine services office and yes I do understand the core mission of the business. I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were Romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day, "Dad you got to get better on your computer." Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have.
Here is Goss's defense, according to today's New York Times:
A spokeswoman for Mr. Goss, Julie Almacy, said his comments had concerned the skills needed to be an operative.
"He's certainly qualified to be the director," Ms. Almacy said. "He's talking about a case officer."
You know what? I'll accept that. Moore's coup is a nice little gotcha, but it has nothing to do with Goss's qualifications to manage the CIA. For that, we turn to this piece on Newsweek's website, by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, who report that Goss - as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee - has proposed letting the agency spy on and arrest American citizens. Here's my favorite paragraph:
"This language on its face would have allowed President Nixon to authorize the CIA to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters," Jeffrey H. Smith, who served as general counsel of the CIA between 1995 and 1996, told NEWSWEEK. "I can't imagine what Porter had in mind."
Well, who knows what Porter had in mind? He's not talking. Besides, maybe he's not, you know, qualified to speak.
At the very least, it's time for congressional Democrats to rethink their plan to wave the Goss nomination through.
NPR ran a clip, some months old, of Goss answering a question about how he would balance civil liberties with national security. He said he views the matter as a choice "between Big Brother and Dead Brother"--not exactly a nuanced take on things.
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