FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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

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.

More articles by:

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 and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. and A Whistleblower at the CIA. His most recent book is “American Carnage: The Wars of Donald Trump” (Opus Publishing), and he is the author of the forthcoming “The Dangerous National Security State” (2020).” Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
Tracey Aikman
President Trump, I’m One of the Workers You Lied To
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
September 19, 2019
Richard Falk
Burning Amazonia, Denying Climate Change, Devastating Syria, Starving Yemen, and Ignoring Kashmir
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail