Magazine article Insight on the News

Skeptics Dog CIA Choice

Magazine article Insight on the News

Skeptics Dog CIA Choice

Article excerpt

The presidents selection of National Security Adviser Anthony Lake to direct the CIA has provoked criticism from Republicans who worry that Clinton has nominated a careful sycophant instead of the tough-minded reformer needed to run the agency in the wake of the Cold War.

John Deutch, the outgoing director, may have headed the agency during a wave of missteps and embarrassments, but he was regarded as having an independent spirit that Republicans both appreciated and respected. Appearing on CNN, Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico called the nomination an "in-house coup" against Deutch and said Lake would face "tough sailing" in confirmation hearings.

Some of the concern about Lake centers on his mild-mannered, low-key academic style and lack of agency experience, especially considering that Clinton's first CIA director, James Woolsey, was elbowed out after reports that Clinton was disgruntled because Woolsey was more loyal to the agency than to the administration.

Lawrence Eagleburger, who ran the State Department under George Bush, has criticized the entire slate of second-term national-security appointments for lack of foreign-policy vision. He says the CIA is in dire straits and that he's unsure that "Tony Lake is strong enough" to provide the necessary bullwork for reform.

Woolsey joined CNN commentators in expressing concern about Lakes ability to meet CIA challenges - specifically, to make the transition from presidents confidante to sounding board for the views of profesionals in the intelligence community. "Being director of central intelligence is a skunk-at-the-garden-party job. You're always telling people things they don't want to hear - sometimes that their policies aren't working," Woolsey says, adding that he thinks it would be difficult for Lake to remain objective.

At a December hearing, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania says he has reservations about Lake because of the way the White House handled the Iranian arms sales to Bosnia. The administration gave a tacit green light to the arms shipments through Croatia and into Bosnia in April 1994 that violated a U.N. embargo. According to a report released just after the election, Lake and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott played leading roles in crafting the U.S. policy to look the other way - a breach of long-standing U.S. policy to isolate Iran. Specter says he may oppose Lakes confirmation if the current national security adviser fails to recant and admit that he fumbled when he withheld this information from Congress. …

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