Friday, November 19, 2004

Clean up CIA and State Department

Clifford May:
Early in the Bush administration, a retired foreign service officer who continued to maintain close ties with the department told me that many employees at State were simply refusing to put energy into furthering Bush policies of which they disapproved. She asked one why he didn’t resign as a matter of principle. “Easy for you to say,” came the reply. “You don’t have kids to put through college.”

Others referred to Bush and his foreign-policy team as “the Christmas help,” meaning they were confident this President would soon be gone and then they’d be able to get back to business as usual.

The few Bush loyalists — and those who don’t believe they’re entitled to veto the decisions of a sitting President — were referred to as “the American interests section.”

Can such a state of affairs continue? Unfortunately, it can. But it shouldn’t, certainly not now, in this critical era.

Now is the time for these public servants to return to doing the jobs the public pays them to do. The intelligence agencies must find better ways to ferret out useful information and supply it to the White House — whose occupant has been re-elected by a majority of Americans. Diplomats need to implement and defend the policies of the President they serve — whether or not they voted for that President.

Sure, these professionals should be encouraged to advise, question and offer alternative approaches. But when the President says, “Here’s what I’ve decided,” the only responses are “Yes, sir,” or “I quit.”

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