The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, Nov. 24

CIA Director Porter Goss is repeating history at the nation’s most important intelligence agency. Given the CIA’s recent history, that’s bad news for the agency, worse news for national security.

Two weeks before President Bush launched the Iraq invasion in March 2003, then-CIA Director George Tenet declared to Bush that there was a “slam dunk case” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. …

Tenet had made his “slam dunk” assessment on evidence that other branches of Bush’s administration knew to be questionable, dubious, even false. … The war was launched anyway. Bush trusted Tenet. And Bush, it is no leap to say, had wanted his war with Iraq since his first year in office, possibly his first weeks. That no weapons of mass destruction were ever found became yet another catastrophic failure of intelligence on the CIA’s part, and of judgment on the president’s part.

… Tenet had become too insulated from challenging interpretations of intelligence on his own turn. The CIA discouraged such challenges, and it pointedly dismissed outside interpretations. Tenet had also become too politically pliant to a president for whom loyalty often trumps fact. In the end, the evidence was too overwhelming to keep Tenet and save the CIA from an overhaul.

Yet Bush immediately provided for insulation by other means with his appointment of Goss as the new CIA director. It was a political rather than an intelligent appointment … a politically driven tenure rather than a reforming one. Getting rid of the head of the Directorate of Intelligence, the intelligence agency’s nerve center which prepares the report that end up on the president’s desk, seemed necessary in light of directorate’s failures. But provoking an exodus of experienced intelligence experts was not. … Goss’ “rules of the road” are politicizing the CIA in management and philosophy.

The public generally assumes the CIA is an independent government agency free to challenge the president’s assumptions when necessary. But the CIA answers only to the president.

Blair follows Bush’s lead

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, Nov. 24

Since the text comes straight from 10 Downing Street and parliamentary elections will probably take place in half a year, this enumeration of planned legislation deserves close examination.

What was Prime Minister Tony Blair trying to say to us through the mouth of Her Majesty?

Firstly, he has studied closely the election victory of his ally, George Bush.

The contemporary variant of the historical secret recipe that the state of the economy determines the outcome of an election is this: “it’s the security, stupid.’

Appealing to people’s fear of violence and crime works even better than fear of losing work – particularly in a country that is in the comfortable position of having a low jobless rate.

Of the 37 bills that the Queen announced on her government’s behalf, 11 came from the law and order department.

Accord doesn’t solve problem

El Universal, Mexico City, Nov. 22

The achievement of an initial migration accord between Mexico and the United States won’t in any way represent a solution to the actual problem, which is the presence of millions of undocumented migrants in U.S. territory. It also won’t solve the socioeconomic problems that cause migration, that empty entire towns, and that cause the violent death of hundreds of Mexicans that cross the border illegally. …

What is certain is that the accord … implies a first draft of the many civilized measures that they could take to confront a situation that, left unchecked, could bring serious conflicts and social upheaval in large areas of both nations. …

If they establish clear rules for working in the United States, instead of prohibiting it completely as they do now, it would mitigate the most painful aspects of the problem, like accidental deaths and the killings of migrants.

Cuba’s ugly realities

La Nacion, Buenos Aires, Nov. 22

For years, Cubans have taken advantage of every opportunity to escape from their country. Some, with great courage, dive into the water and try to make it to Florida. Thousands of Cubans have been successful in this effort. But others have died during their attempts to find freedom, or they’ve been sent back. … A few days ago, nearly the entire cast of the Cuban musical show “Havana Night Club,” which was touring in the United States, defected and requested political asylum there. The group included more than 40 musicians, singers, dancers and workers. …

This is a reminder of the reality confronted by Cubans, whose civil liberties and human rights have been repressed for more than 40 years by the dictatorial regime of Fidel Castro. No matter the cost, Cubans attempt to defect whenever they have the opportunity, often risking their lives. They believe that living without freedom, dignity or a future is not truly living.

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