FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

David Ignatius, the CIA’s Apologist-in-Chief

by

Photo by Toxic5 | DeviantArt

Photo by Toxic5 | DeviantArt

There is universal agreement that President Donald Trump’s “advertisement for himself” in front of CIA’s memorial wall on Saturday was an unmitigated disaster for both the vainglorious president and the Central Intelligence Agency.  But there are always favorable reviews to be found.  In this case, there were two: one from the president who told ABC’s David Muir that the presentation was “great;” the other from the Washington Post’s long-time apologist-in-chief for the CIA, David Ignatius.

Over the past several decades, Ignatius has defended the CIA’s political assassination program, and argued that no investigation was necessary because “nobody had been killed.”  He never condemned the CIA training of death squads in Central America, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. He never deplored the CIA’s Phoenix operation during the Vietnam War, when the agency ran a paramilitary campaign of interrogation, torture, and assassination that targeted many innocent victims.  And he never favored accountability for agency operatives who manned the secret prisons, and conducted the program of torture and abuse.

Thus, it is no surprise that Ignatius, writing in the Washington Post on Monday, welcomed President Trump’s “ingratiating message” after months of attacks on the agency.  According to Ignatius, the CIA was tired of having a “kick me” sign on its backside and found it “nice to be massaged.”  He made no attempt to assess the danger of trying to co-opt and politicize an intelligence agency that must remain apolitical in order to carry out its mission.  And there was no attempt to judge the indignity of CIA officers responding enthusiastically to the president’s harsh political statements, particularly his attacks on the press.

Ignatius even endorsed the self-serving remarks of agency operatives who dismissed the stewardship of former CIA director John Brennan and praised the appointment of CIA director Mike Pompeo.  Brennan has never been popular in the directorate of operations because he was an intelligence analyst who received an unusual appointment to be a CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia and, as director, merged the intelligence analysts and clandestine operatives into one bureaucratic organization.  He endorsed a paramilitary officer, who stated the visit was “well-received by the worker bees.”  He referred to the president’s “rambling braggadocio” as part of his style, but said that “the country (including the CIA) will have to get used to it.”

Although CIA’s unlawful activities during the Iraq War and the Global War on Terror must never be repeated, Ignatius argued in the past that any period of discovery would weaken the CIA and cause serious morale problems.  Now that we know that the Trump administration is considering a return to the CIA’s “black site” prisons where suspects were detained and tortured and even re-examining the use of torture, we will need journalists with integrity to keep us informed of the internal political struggle that is already taking place.

The fact that CIA director Pompeo testified he would never carry out an order to conduct torture, but wrote to the committee after the hearing that he wouldn’t rule out reinstating  torture “if experts believed current law was an impediment to gathering vital intelligence” is worrisome.   We need honest journalists to track such contradictions.  Sadly, we cannot count on “journalists” such as Ignatius who apologizes for the CIA in order to gain and protect his access to agency operatives.

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of “Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA,” “National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism,” and the forthcoming “The Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at CIA” (City Lights Publishers, 2015).  Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail