The scandal that saw CIA director and former top US general in Iraq and Afghanistan, David Petraeus, resign in disgrace over an extramarital affair is another in a string of scandals that have resulted in America’s top spies leaving the CIA in disgrace.
Petraeus was a controversial choice to head the CIA. President Obama chose the commander of US forces in Afghanistan amid speculation that the Republican Party was considering the general to either head their ticket for president in 2012 or run as vice president. Petraeus’s fan base was not so much with his troops, who referred to him as “King David” and “General Betray Us,” but with the political pundit class of Washington. Petraeus was more at home speaking to meetings of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations and neo-conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute than he was commanding troops in the field. In fact, Petraeus’s first combat command was not until he was a two-star general at the age of 50 when George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made him the Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division for the invasion of Iraq.
Although Allen Dulles, the early Cold War CIA director, was known as a serial adulterer, it was not until recent years, especially since the end of the Cold War, that the CIA has been plagued with unprofessional and scandalous leadership at the very top.
Ronald Reagan began politicizing the CIA when he brought in New York securities firm executive William Casey to lead the “Agency.” Casey, who soon mired the CIA in the Iran-contra scandal that almost brought down Reagan in impeachment, appointed Reagan campaign donor Max Hugel as deputy director for operations. Hugel left amid a cloud of scandal involving his stocks transactions, however, CIA insiders knew that the gruff-talking Hugel, a Brooklyn-born Jew, was fired because of his suspicious contacts with Israeli intelligence officers while he was at the CIA.
President Bill Clinton’s first CIA director was lawyer James Woolsey, a Henry “Scoop” Jackson Democrat who had no prior intelligence experience. “Scoop Jackson Democrats,” including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were the core of the neo-conservative cabal that emerged inside the George W. Bush administration.
Like Hugel, Woolsey also had close connections with Israeli agents and lobbyists. Woolsey was forced to resign after the exposure of Aldrich Ames, a high-level Soviet agent in the top echelon of the CIA. After he left the CIA, Woolsey became active with the neo-con Project for the New American Century (PNAC), Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, and Center for Security Policy. He became an adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign against Obama.
John Deutch, a Brussels, Belgium-born Russian Jew, whose background was chemistry and physics, succeeded Woolsey as director. It was discovered that Deutch’s unclassified laptop computers contained classified information. However, in what was a worse potential security compromise, classified computers that Deutch took home with him from work were used to access pornographic websites. Security officers were concerned that “cookie” programs used by X-rated websites may have had access to and downloaded classified information from Deutch’s laptop. Amid the security flap, Deutch suddenly resigned on December 15, 1996. Clinton pardoned Deutch of any wrongdoing on January 20, 2001 and a Justice Department investigation by Attorney General Janet Reno was put on ice.
George Tenet, a congressional staffer without any prior intelligence experience, succeeded Deutch. It was Tenet who concocted intelligence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, telling President Bush on December 12, 2002, that the CIA had a “slam dunk” case against Iraq. Tenet told Bush in June 2004 he wanted to leave for “personal reasons.”
Former CIA case officer and House Intelligence Committee chairman Porter Goss became CIA director after Tenet. Goss packed the agency with his own cronies from his congressional staff, infuriating seasoned agency veterans. Goss’s executive director Kyle “Dusty” Foggo was later indicted for fraud and Goss’s and Foggo’s name emerged in connection with the “DC Madam” scandal and poker parties featuring female escorts and heavy drinking at the Watergate Hotel in Washington. Goss resigned suddenly after a meeting with Bush at the White House on May 5, 2006.
Former National Security Agency director General Michael Hayden succeeded Goss. Hayden was criticized for continuing to wear his Air Force uniform at the civilian CIA and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, himself a former CIA director, instructed Hayden to retire and take off the uniform.
Obama appointed Leon Panetta, a former Democratic Congressman, to succeed Hayden. Panetta’s only distinguishing accomplishment at the agency was not getting caught with his pants down or with his hands in some Israeli cookie jar.
The same cannot be said for recently resigned director Petraeus, who was not only caught with his pants down but in cahoots with a group of women who were closely linked with Obama’s worst enemies, including Mitt Romney adviser Karl Rove.