U.S. Agency Interests Compete With War on Terror

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, August 1, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST: It was [evidence of weapons of mass destruction] on which President Bush based a lot of his reasons for going to war with Saddam Hussein and, of course, a lot depends on whether [weapons inspector] David Kay (search) finds those weapons of mass destruction. But a lot of other things came into play here, too.

Laurie Mylroie (search) has talked about this. She is the author of the book Bush Verses the Beltway: How the CIA and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror. And that is today's big question. Why would the CIA want to stop the war on terror? It doesn't sound like it makes sense, Laurie.

LAURIE MYLROIE, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: They missed Iraq's involvement on earlier attacks in the United States, starting with the '93 World Trade Center bombing. And now they don't want to admit they made a mistake.

ASMAN: So there is an acronym, I won't spell it, but it is CYA, covering your you-know-what. Is that what is going on here?

MYLROIE: That's right and that's what's called the CIA, the middle initial is wrong.

ASMAN: But they would actually go so far as to jeopardize the security of the United States just in order to save their reputation?

MYLROIE: They don't understand it that way, they can't see it that way, but that is, in fact, what is going on.

ASMAN: And the State Department (search), same thing there?

MYLROIE: Same thing there as well. The State Department's policy in 2001 was smart sanctions. There were individuals in the State Department who could not accept the notion that Bush felt that we had to go to war with Iraq to get rid of the threat posed by Saddam.

ASMAN: But these folks, even though you may disagree with their views about Saddam Hussein, they are dedicated public servants. They are not people who would knowingly want to endanger the safety of American citizens.

MYLROIE: I'm sorry to disillusion you, David, but the agendas of many individuals in the bureaucracies are very, very narrow. This is about not taking above your pay grade. Looking to the very narrow interests of your department or your institution. And when that suddenly collides with the national interest, you may still look to the interests of your department.

ASMAN: So they are not looking at the big picture. They are just looking at their slice of the picture which, to them, is not enough to endanger the lives of Americans?

MYLROIE: That's right. And the person who looked to the big picture was President Bush and we should all be very grateful to him.

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