This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Nov. 15, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: As we just heard in Major Garrett’s report on the CIA (search), there is something that sounds like a mutiny going on at that agency. But are these cries of protest at bungling by newcomers at the top, or the squeals of stuck pigs who are caught up in a shake-up that’s shaking them?
For answers, we turn to Ron Marks, a 16-year veteran of the CIA who retired five years ago, but has remained in touch with the agency.
Welcome to you, sir.
RON MARKS, FMR. CIA INTELL. ANALYST: Thank you very much.
HUME: What is your sense of what’s going on out there?
MARKS: Well, I would not go so far as to say the stuck pigs remark. But what you have right now is a pretty good guy in Porter Goss (search) coming there trying to clean up, what’s essentially been a very difficult situation for the last few years.
HUME: Let me just stop for a second. Porter Goss, of course, is a former agent himself. So presumably he has some familiarity with the culture there.
MARKS: I think Porter knows where the bodies are buried there. And I think Porter knows how that place works almost better than anybody else that you’d care to have. I think frankly, he’s probably the best guy they’ve put in there since Bob Gates (search) back in 1981. I mean someone who knows the culture, knows the people, knows the institution.
And frankly, the people who were there needed to be changed out. And I think what you’re getting right now is the reaction of people who forget that we all sort of lease in this town, we don’t buy. And the guys who are in there right now, nice people; frankly, I think thought they were going to stay on for the duration with him. And he has his own ideas about what kind of people he wants to have in there.
What surprised me about all of this, and I’m still shaking my head. I joined 20 years ago, it was — I think it was called the Silent Service then. Well, you know, clearly they discovered number for the Washington Post. And they’ve discovered the numbers around town that they can dial up to complain. But I would ask everybody out there to think very carefully about what they are doing here. We are embarrassing ourselves right now in front of the world, frankly.
HUME: Now let me ask — follow up on that. We are embarrassing ourselves in front of the world because the agency is showing itself once again unable to keep a secret? Or we’re embarrassing ourselves because of a picture of chaos and management disarray is being shown?
MARKS: I think a little bit of both at this point. I mean the secrecy of that business is crucial; the ability to trust someone to keep a secret, the ability to show that you can maintain an institution. Also the ability to show that you can serve the president. That place is devoted to do nothing else but serving the president of the United States. And Porter Goss is there because of the president.
HUME: Right. But serving the president, obviously with intelligence that is not slanted in favor of viewpoint. I suppose that’s been the allegation.
MARKS: That’s correct.
HUME: What about that whole question? Is there — what is going on with the leaks? Is this an effort to influence policy? Is this an effort to get the president defeated? I mean there was all kinds of stuff that came out during the election campaign that was unbecoming:
MARKS: I think when you have the previous regime was in for some eight years. A majority of that management was put in place by that previous group. I’ve always had favor Tenet, at least in the early years, because I thought George did a pretty good job at least of holding the effort against the Clinton administration.
I left in ‘99 because frankly, I had enough of the Clinton administration’s approach to intelligence. And I thought as he stayed in longer and was asked to stay on by the president, that it may not had been perhaps the best approach to it. But it was at least a stability factor that produced a sort of an ongoing seven, eight-year term in there.
HUME: But I’m not sure there. What are you saying about the Clinton administration? That its use of intelligence was what?
MARKS: I was not impressed by its use of intelligence. I was not impressed by the fact that they cut the budget by about a third out there. I was not impressed that they cut the personnel by a third out there, at a time they were really asking for a lot more out of that place.
HUME: Right. So along comes President Bush, 9/11 occurs. Tremendous effort is made to infuse money or at least energy into that agency. What accounts for the dissent that is obviously in place there among so many at the top?
MARKS: I think, frankly, the money spent out there and personnel spent out there so far under the guidance of the previous group was not well done. I think you put some people in place out there who, frankly, had not had the greatest experiences in terms of dealing with massive programs. I think some of the personnel and some of the money issues are still up for grabs, in terms of how the money’s been spent and how the personnel have been sort of put forward into the field.
I think Porter Goss called it pretty well in the House report earlier this year.
HUME: When he said?
MARKS: When he said in essence that there had been not — since the 9/11 period, there had been some — not questionable but you really had to think carefully about how the resources were being allocated. And they were not being allocated well. So I think he wants to get in there now, replace those people, find some people who are his own at this point, take a fresh look at how personnel resources analysis are being done there.
HUME: Is there anything to this criticism that says he brought a bunch of congressional staffers over there who really didn’t know the agency and who shouldn’t be over there telling people want to do?
MARKS: Well, speaking to someone who went through that cycle once, the agency has an interesting relationship with Capitol Hill (search) over the years. Whatever sense there in that building about how to handle foreign governments overseas, seems to be lost when dealing with Capitol Hill. The staff he brought in are bright, aggressive guys. Are they too aggressive? Are they too brusque at this point? That’s a matter of personal style.
HUME: But do they know the agency?
MARKS: They know the intel business. They know the agency and they know the intel.
HUME: That’s because they worked with him on the Intelligence Committee?
MARKS: Absolutely. You bet. And they worked there beforehand.
HUME: Oh, they did?
MARKS: Some of them did. Absolutely. So there’s some insight in here. And I think one of the things that you have, maybe a little bit of jealousy, maybe a little bit of anger here as well. But also, you know, again there’s a very typical approach within the agency toward Capitol Hill; that you know, we will do our business and you just send the checks. And that’s not the way life works in this town.
HUME: Now, how would you characterize the sort of down through the ranks morale at the CIA now? Are we dealing with a bunch of able analysts, and people and operatives in the field who are hopeful that there will be changed? Are we dealing with people who are fearful that things are going to be done in a new way, and they are going to be purged or whatever?
MARKS: Well, I think in any organization, whatever size it is, when you make changes at the top, everybody begins to look around a little bit and wonder well, how does that affect me? On the other hand, I have to tell you hands down, by working a lot of places in this town — I guess I have my prejudices because I started my career out there. But the CIA’s a pretty good place. You’ve got some good analysts and you’ve got some good operations people out there who really want to do good work.
And what they need is good direction from the top. And I think Porter is going to provide that. And I think when Porter gets his leadership in there; Director Goss will be able to push ahead his program. And I think once you clear the sort of fluff and nonsense out of the way at this point; you will get everybody back on course.
HUME: Do you take these resignations we’ve had in the last few days to be examples of people who are going to go anyway?
MARKS: Absolutely. And as well they should. If you take over a corporation, I mean it’s a multibillion dollar corporation, you’re the CEO of it, and that’s what Director Goss is at this point, you expect to put your own senior personnel in there. The director of intelligence people had already left to some extent, so the operations people are simply doing what normally would have been done anyway.
HUME: Ron Marks, thank you for coming in.
MARKS: Thank you.
HUME: Nice to have you.
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