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CIA Veteran: How Robert Gates Cooked the Intelligence

An interview with the most interesting witness senators won't hear from this week.

| Mon Dec. 4, 2006 3:00 AM EST

MJ: Why did Casey want this memo drawn up in the first place?

MG: He wanted something to sort of undercut the détente policy of George Shultz. Secretary of State Shultz, by this point, 1985, had sort of won a bureaucratic battle within the Reagan administration. This was the first year of Reagan's second term, and Reagan was convinced that his tactics toward the Soviet Union was going nowhere and needed to be changed. This is what Shultz and people like Jack Matlock, who eventually became the ambassador to the Soviet Union, were arguing. Of course, he was coming up against the opponents, the neocons of their day, people like Casper Weinberger, the secretary of defense, and Bill Casey. With this assessment that only went to the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the head of the National Security Council — I think this was Casey's way of undercutting détente policy. And if you go to the Shultz memoir, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State, it shows his contempt for the CIA, his contempt for Bill Casey, his contempt for Bob Gates, and his confrontation with Bob Gates over the matter of flawed intelligence, corrupted intelligence, and the fact that they were misinforming the president. It is some of the strongest language I've ever seen between a policymaker and a senior CIA official.

MJ: He basically said, "I don't trust the intelligence coming out of the agency."

MG: "I don't trust what you do." Yeah. Something like, "If this were a business and you were part of the business, I'd go somewhere else." He made it clear that what Gates was doing, what he was responsible for, was totally objectionable.

MJ: James Baker also had problems with Gates, if I'm not mistaken.

MG: There is a passage in the Baker memoir that deals with the speeches Gates was giving in 1989 undercutting his policies of détente. Baker was engaged at that time at trying to engage Bush to get him back on the arms control track. Gates was trying to undercut this, with the support of his boss, General [Brent] Scowcroft, who was really far more conservative than people give him credit for. Gates was Scowcroft's deputy at this time in 1989.

MJ: Was the papal plot memo an isolated case, would you say, or did spinning intelligence become more common at the agency?

MG: I definitely think it did, There was the plot memo and one other very important document. This was a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in which Gates essentially prepared the intelligence case on Iran-Contra. This was to argue that the Soviet Union was trying to put a great deal of pressure on Iran, to bring Iran into the Soviet orbit, and that there were moderates in Iran who were interested in doing business with the United States and that Iran was getting out of the business of terrorism. All these issues, all these charges and conclusions, were false. There was no evidence to support any one of them. But Gates had sort of conspired with the national intelligence officer for the Middle East, Graham Fuller, to try and prepare a memo that would justify Iran-Contra. And, of course, this gets into the whole issue of what Gates knew about Iran-Contra and the fact that no one on the intelligence committee believed him in 1987 when he said he knew nothing about it.

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