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By L. C. Johnson (blog/bio)

When Forrest Gump, aspiring shrimp boat captain, was asked, "Are you stupid or something?"   He replied, "Stupid is as stupid does."  So what is Bob Novak's excuse?  Stupidity seems too simple an explanation.  I wonder how many people will be required to pull Novak's fat head out of his ass.  It is obviously lodged in a deep, dark place.

His latest column, Subverting Bush at Langley, is one of the most ignorant, error-ridden diatribes I have read in quite sometime.  How can he even be considered a credible journalist?  Oh wait, never mind, he's commenting at Fox News.  Answered my own question.

Consider these nonsensical assertions from today's piece:

. . . but the Republicans stand alone in protesting the CIA's defiant undermining of President Bush. In its clean bill of health for Iran on nuclear weapons development, the agency acted as an independent policymaker rather than an adviser.

Now I can understand the average American living in Hooverville not knowing (or caring) about the difference between the CIA, the NIC, and the DNI.  But Novak purports to be an informed commentator.  He does not understand even basic points.  For starters, the CIA did not write nor promulgate the National Intelligence Estimate, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities.  Check out the cover of the NIE.  It bears the logo of the Director of National Intelligence.  I defy anyone to spy the emblem of the CIA or the signature of the Director of the CIA in this document.  The CIA now is but one member of the intelligence community and no longer has management responsibility for the National Intelligence Council and its work on National Estimates.

I guess Novak was too busy to read this paragraph from the intro:

The NIEs are typically requested by senior civilian and military policymakers,  Congressional leaders and at times are initiated by the National Intelligence Council NIC). Before a NIE is drafted, the relevant NIO is responsible for producing a concept paper or terms of reference (TOR) and circulates it throughout the Intelligence Community for comment. The TOR defines the key estimative questions, determines drafting responsibilities, and sets the drafting and publication schedule. One or more IC analysts are usually assigned to produce the initial text. The NIC then meets to critique the draft before it is circulated to the broader IC. Representatives from the relevant IC agencies meet to hone and coordinate line-by-line the full text of the NIE. Working with their Agencies, reps also assign the level of confidence they have in each key judgment.  IC reps discuss the quality of sources with collectors, and the National Clandestine Service vets the sources used to ensure the draft does not include any that have been recalled or otherwise seriously questioned.

Novak then launches this zinger:

It [the CIA] has withheld from nearly all members of Congress information on the Israeli bombing of Syria in September. The U.S. intelligence community is deciding on its own what information the public shall learn.

It is enough to make Billy Graham curse the name of God.  Here are some relevant facts.  The CIA does not control signal intelligence/intercepts.  That falls under the bailiwick of the National Security Agency (NSA).  If info about the Israeli bombing existed there is nothing the CIA can do to prevent Congress from getting access to that intelligence.

How about satellite photographs of the bombed site?  That too no longer is under CIA control.  The National Photographic Interpretation Center has been renamed and moved:

The National Photographic Interpretation Center, whose functions have since been absorbed into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), was formerly a component of the CIA Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T). NPIC produced imagery interpretation reports, briefing boards, videotapes for national-level consumers, and provided support for the military. NPIC employed some 1,200 image interpreters and archivists.

So if pictures of the bombing existed it is not up to the CIA to produce them or turn them over (unless we have succeeded in stealing what the Israelis have).  Stealing secrets from other countries is something the CIA's National Clandestine Service is supposed to do.

But CIA is not the only game in town. What about the Defense Intelligence Agency aka DIA.  What have they said about the bombing in Syria?  Apparently nothing!!!  I am told be friends still on the inside that there is no information to tell.  A very strange situation, but this is not under the control of the CIA.  Plus, the mystery about what Israel did in Syria is a blog post for another day.

Not content to simply pass on false, erroneous reports, Bob "the Traitor" Novak feels compelled to slander a retired intelligence officer.  Once again he surfaces the charge that  the CIA has nothing but contempt for President Bush (Jesus, please make it so).  And he insists this contempt:

was demonstrated during his 2004 reelection campaign when a senior intelligence officer, Paul R. Pillar, made off-the-record speeches around the country criticizing the invasion of Iraq. On Sept. 24, 2004, three days before my column exposed Pillar's activity, former representative Porter Goss arrived at Langley as Bush's handpicked director of central intelligence.

Novak's unwarranted animus towards Paul Pillar is exceeded only by his hatred of Valerie Plame.  Like Valerie, Paul is a true professional.  Oh, and by the way, Paul left the CIA a couple of years back.  He's not in a position to pull strings back at "headquarters."  To describe him as a political partisan would be akin to labeling Mahatma Ghandi as a gaudy dresser.  Paul is low key, cerebral, and very professional.  His only sin was to accuse the Bush Admininstration (per the Washington Post):

of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Damn it man!  When are you going to learn that telling the truth will get you in to trouble?  Pillar obviously never took the time to read Hans Christian Andersen', The Emperor's New Clothes.  He would have learned that the path to happiness and acceptance is to just tell the naked President that he's wearing a splendid tux.  Do that and all is forgiven.

Here's the truth--not a shred of evidence has been produced by Bob Novak to support his groundless accusation that Pillar leaked information to the press about the NIE or any other matter.  And oh, by the way, Pillar was working at the National Intelligence Council in 2004, not the CIA.  Got it Bob?

It is clear that disgruntled congressional Republicans, such as Rep. Peter Hoekstra, are primary sources for Novak's garbage reporting.  I am not sure which is worse--an ignorant member of Congress or a hack journalist.  It is troubling that someone of Hoekstra's experience displays such a profound ignorance about the organization and duties of various parts of the intelligence community.   Hoekstra apparently still does not realize that the CIA does not write National Intelligence Estimates.  I guess his apparent inability to grasp something that simple accounts for his failure to conduct effective of oversight of the Intelligence Community when he chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

But even if Hoekstra is an idiot, Novak should know better.  I realize that journalists are not inclined to police themselves of miscreants like Novak.  Even if his demonstrated stupidity tends to reflect on others in the profession.  Perhaps the problem lies with his "sources."    If Novak's scribblings are based on Hoekstra, then he has some excuse for shoddy work.  But it is still incumbent on Novak--a thickheaded scribe  blinded by partisan rage--to get basic facts right.  From his perch as a columnist he can blithely mislead many unwitting Americans, who tend to presume that Novak is a smart guy and knows what he is talking about.  He's neither.

So if you are still searching for a last minute Christmas gift consider this--give your nearest and dearest a tip.  Tell them Bob Novak is a fraud masquerading as a journalist.  In fact, when it comes to people who have damaged America's national security, it is tough to find someone who has caused more harm than Bob Novak.  Hope he gets coal in his stocking tonight.


Check out my blog.

Originally posted to L C Johnson on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 11:02 AM PST.

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