CIA Statement on 'Legacy of Ashes'

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The CIA is no stranger to criticism. Intelligence work, focused as it is on the uncertain, the unknown, and the deliberately hidden, comes with great difficulty and risk. There will be shortcomings and...

-- The book states that current CIA Director Michael Hayden is the first active duty military officer to lead the agency since Walter Bedell Smith in the 1950s. But Stansfield Turner was an active duty admiral in the U.S. Navy during the first two years of his tenure as Director of Central Intelligence.

Even Weiner's telling of his juiciest tale, involving the American ambassador to Guatemala , is gravely flawed. There is much less to this than Weiner suggests -- for starters, the supposed intelligence on which it is based did not even come from the CIA or a CIA source. As is so often the case, there is more than one side to the story. But you would not know that from Weiner's book.

What of the CIA today? This is the agency that did much to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan after 9/11 and collapse the Al-Qa'ida safe haven there. This is the agency that unraveled the A.Q. Khan proliferation network and learned enough about Libya's nuclear program to persuade Tripoli to step back from it. And the agency that has helped foil terrorist plots and erode the structure and leadership of a terrorist movement that is extremely dangerous and highly adaptable. Weiner's verdict: These skilled and dedicated officers are "the weakest cadre of spies and analysts in the history of the CIA."

The agency makes no claims to perfection -- far from it. We strive each day to learn from our successes and failures. Not even Weiner can claim that the CIA shrinks from its past. The huge volume of material we have declassified, rare for an intelligence service, underscores the point. With a strong range of sources, Tim Weiner had an opportunity to write a balanced history of a complex, important subject. But he did not. His bias overwhelms his scholarship. One cannot learn the true story of the CIA from Legacy of Ashes.

SOURCE CIA Public Affairs