According to a report in today's New York Times, that issue has finally been cleared up by the new Director of Central Intelligence, Porter Goss. The paper obtained an internal memo which Mr Goss sent on Monday to agency employees, in which he writes that the job of CIA employees is to "support the administration and its policies in our work.'' He adds, "as agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies."
Now, this might be less than it appears to be. He may be seeking to control the public statements or the books or articles written by CIA employees, rather than trying to influence the contents of their reports. That remains to be seen, one way or another. But one thing seems clear: the administration is troubled by facts on the ground that contradict their policy positions. The CIA's findings did not support Mr Bush's claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, for example.
How did this memo get out to the New York Times and also, apparently, to The Washington Post? Mr Goss hastens to remind agency employees, "We remain a secret organization.'' But he might do well to reread Max Weber's classic essay on bureaucracy: what gives professional civil servants power over the political appointees who run their agencies temporarily is that they control the information.