I entered on duty with the CIA in September 1985. I spent a year in the Career Trainee Program and then, in September 1986, took up my work as the lone Honduran analyst in the Central American Branch. That was a hot position that put me in the frontline of one of the top foreign policy priorities at the time of the Reagan Administration–the Central American Wars and Soviet interference in Nicaragua. When I write, “hot position,” I mean that I was writing two to three times a week for the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) and the National Intelligence Daily (NID).
I had a front-row seat to watch the struggle to present intelligence that cut against the grain of the political priorities of the Reagan Administration. I recall vividly sitting in a “Warning Meeting” that was chaired by the National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Latin America. At one point during my briefing I referred to the Contras who were based in the Salient in southern Honduras. The NIO interrupted and ordered me to refer to them as “the Nicaraguan Democrat Resistance.” Me being me responded, “But the President calls them the Contras.” The NIO responded, “Yes, but he’s the President.”
When you start dictating politically correct language to an intelligence analyst you are on the threshold of Orwell’s 1984. I count myself fortunate to have worked at the CIA when it still had some shred of integrity intact. My experience was not the first time that a political agenda intruded on the intelligence process. Cuba in the 1960s and the Vietnam War preceded me as other dark examples of trying to cook the intelligence to match White House priorities.
Now we have this ridiculous recruiting video featuring the new generation of CIA officers:
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