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Intelligence Budget

August 20, 1993

* Your two articles and editorial (Aug. 8) about no cuts in the intelligence budget raise interesting questions. Even the most rudimentary cost-benefit analysis in this budget crunch should present cut-minded Congress people with a bonanza.

After all, are not the "intelligence" people the ones who told us the Soviets were ready to invade Western Europe (they weren't); the Iraqis were not ready to invade Kuwait (they were); the East German economy was greater than West Germany (not even close); the shah of Iran was not about to have a revolution (he did); the Nicaraguans--so poor they had only two elevators in their entire country--were about to pounce on Honduras or maybe even Harlingen, Tex. (they weren't); and finally, the Soviet economy was strong and growing stronger (wrong on both counts)?

And there is not even a discussion of the intelligence budget or even a disclosure of the amount: What is going on here? Are these people really this bad in their analytical ability--in which case, why add further to the hundreds of billions already spent? Or is something more sinister going on--in which case, is democracy being subverted and our tax dollars paying for it?

When even the "President of Change" feels constrained to appoint a CIA director from the "old boys' network," when the constitutional mandate to account for the expenditures of taxpayer monies is systematically bypassed, and when Congress won't tell the public how many billions are being spent, how much of a government "of the people" do we have left?


Christic Institute, Los Angeles

* Has anyone noticed? The Times always manages to decry the waste of taxpayers' money on unneeded, overpriced projects, and calls for cuts and streamlining, when an "open" government agency is involved. So, what makes it think (editorial, Aug. 8) there's no fat in the CIA's $28 billion budget? (That's just the money we know about.)

A closed, secretive agency like the CIA can't even be monitored or evaluated. Yet, we're all supposed to assume it's somehow magically free of the waste, mistakes and bad judgment that exist everywhere else? To assume this is an incredible act of blind faith. Ask former CIA officers who know, like authors Phillip Agee, Ralph McGehee and John Stockwell.

Your editorial acknowledged arguments for spending that money on domestic problems--but ended up defending the status quo.

We don't have to worry about being destroyed by foreign countries. We're doing it from within: a bankrupt morality, 30,000 people dying annually from guns, gang wars, drugs. Even a small fraction of the CIA's $28 billion could feed and shelter the homeless, fund education, help keep our schools and libraries open, and encourage business growth and employment right now. But no, nothing must be cut from the CIA's budget--according to The Times.

Hasn't the end of the Cold War made any dent in the partisan ideology spawned in the past? Times are changing. So should we. There's another war on, right here at home--one we must win to survive at all. Let's get our priorities straight.



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