The CIA is “out of control” and often refuses to cooperate with other parts of the national security community, even undermining their efforts, said former National Security Agency head William Odom, according to a recently released record of a 9/11 Commission interview.
By Sharon Weinberger
“The CIA currently doesn’t work for anyone. It thinks it works for the president, but it doesn’t and it’s out of control,” says a report summarizing remarks made by Odom, a retired three-star general who served as director of the NSA from 1985 to 1988.
Odom, who also served on the National Security Council staff during the Carter administration, was known as an outspoken advocate for intelligence reform. He died in 2008.
The 2003 interview, among others conducted by the 9/11 Commission, was posted on the website Cryptome, which is often compared to the secret-spilling WikiLeaks website. The report was not a leak, however, but one of many records relating to the 9/11 Commission that have been released and made available on the National Archives website.
“Quite a few remain ‘access restricted’ for classification review,” John Young, who runs Cryptome, told AOL News in an e-mail about the records, some of which he has reposted. “We expect to make an FOIA [Freedom of information Act] request for their release once we have a full listing of those restricted.”
In the commission interview, Odom portrayed CIA officers as individualistic, saying they were interested in writing “exposes.” He also accused the CIA of not sharing “humint,” meaning intelligence collected through contact with people, and of trying to sabotage the Pentagon’s own work in this area.
“The director of the CIA has as much reason to brief the president as the man on the moon,” Odom told the staff of the commission investigating the failure to prevent the terror attacks.
Odom also believed that intelligence officials weren’t held sufficiently accountable for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He said he believed that the heads of the NSA and the CIA should both have been fired by the president after 9/11 for “symbolic purposes.”
Many of Odom’s views had already been laid out in his book, “Fixing Intelligence,” which presented his ideas for overhauling the U.S. intelligence process. Some of the reforms Odom advocated to the commission, such as separation of the director of national intelligence from the head of the CIA, were eventually implemented.
While deeply critical of the CIA, Odom also had harsh words for other NSA directors, including Adm. Bobby Inman, whom he accused of “playing games” in Washington. He also said that Gen. Michael Hayden, then the director of the NSA, was “destroying” the agency and didn’t know his “intellectual limits.”
Hayden went on to become head of the CIA in 2006.
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