(CNSNews.com) - The Central Intelligence Agency is "politicized" and "corrupt," the idea of a cabinet level Department of Homeland Security is a "ridiculous notion," and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were "not an act of war," but "a terrible criminal act," according to a former CIA Soviet analyst.
Melvin Goodman, a current professor of international studies at the National War College in Washington, D.C., spoke recently at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in the nation's capital.
According to Goodman, it's "unbelievable" the U.S. wasn't better prepared for 9/11, considering the "tremendous amount of information" available to intelligence agencies beforehand.
"One of the things I'm sure [Vice President Dick] Cheney is trying to put the lid on is the kinds of information we got from foreign liaisons - from foreign intelligence - the CIA had access to," Goodman said.
Part of the reason for the U.S. intelligence failures is the "pure arrogance" on the part of the Bush administration, Goodman alleged, which combined with the "parochial view" of Americans, contributes to the "stunning contempt" many Muslims have for America.
And unless American intelligence learns how to separate "the smoke from the real signals" and recognize warnings, the country will always lack national security, he said.
The president's plan to improve the level of safety by creating a new department of homeland security was also criticized by Goodman as "a Rube Goldberg scheme of putting 30 different capabilities and specialties and offices into one agency and [trying to] manage it." Rube Goldberg, the late Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, increased his fame by inventing machines that "showed difficult ways to achieve easy results," according to an Internet biography of Goldberg.
According to Goodman, the Bush administration immediately misidentified the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
"I think we got off on the wrong foot the first day ... when we called this the War on Terrorism," asserted Goodman. "This was not an act of war, this was a terrible criminal act."
Goodman said he left the CIA after becoming disillusioned with the corruption at the agency. The CIA, created by President Harry Truman in 1947 and originally concerned only with intelligence, began to change for the worse, Goodman said, when covert actions were introduced in 1952.
Today, he said, the agency is too concerned with government policy.
"The CIA is not supposed to have a policy angle," Goodman said. "They shouldn't give a damn what the policy is. They shouldn't give a damn which party the president comes from."
J. Michael Waller, vice president for research and publications at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, said, "Some of [Goodman's] stuff is just off the wall, and some of it has a point."
Waller told CNSNews.com that he agrees the "state of our intelligence services is in terrible condition."
"While we have some first-rate people and unchallenged technology, the system itself is broken," Waller said.
But Goodman's criticism of the president's plan to reform the nation's security apparatus is wrong, according to Waller.
"The president's proposal is the most sensible one so far" because America is in need of "a coordinating body, and Homeland Security is meant to solve that because it takes intelligence collected by the CIA and the FBI, and it has its own analytical unit."
As for Goodman's allegation of "corruption" at the CIA and criticism of the agency's covert activities, Waller said simply, "That's crazy. And he should know better. If he was a Soviet analyst for 20 years and sees no value in covert action, then he's part of the problem.
"For a 20 year CIA veteran to say that covert action tainted the role of the intelligence services is completely nuts," Waller continued. "That's not even something to disagree on. I think that argument is just nuts."
E-mail a news tip to Jessica Cantelon.
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