How to reform our national intelligenceAfter reading...


How to reform our national intelligence

After reading William Pfaff's cogent and insightful article, "Is the CIA above the law?" (Nov. 21), I am compelled to offer the following comments regarding the current organization of intelligence in the United States.

The national intelligence community consists of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the intelligence activities of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Of these, only the CIA is an independent agency; that is, not a subordinate activity within an executive department of the government. Instead, the director of the CIA reports directly to the president. While the latter has a small Intelligence Oversight Committee and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board to assist him, neither group has the capability to provide effective oversight of CIA activities, nor have presidents shown the willingness to devote the time needed for effective guidance of the CIA, and understandably so.

Intelligence should operate within the premise that it exists to enhance national security by providing information to operations necessary for the successful execution of a mission, be it military, political or economic. Intelligence should not exist for its own sake, and, consequently, it should have a supporting role rather than an operational one. Yet the CIA, by virtue of its being an independent agency and in the absence of effective executive oversight, tends to assume an operational status. When the cloak of secrecy required for covert activities is added, the potential for extra-legal actions is apparent.

In recent years, Congress has established oversight committees a remedy, but legislative branch attempts to guide an executive agency are limited at best. What is needed is a national intelligence community whose members all have effective guidance from their executive superiors.

A possible solution:

Get rid of the Central Intelligence Agency, and assign its political and economic intelligence resources to the State Department as a separate branch therein, subordinate to the secretary of State and subject to his direction.

Establish a National Intelligence Committee, whose function would be to coordinate the activities of the several members of the national intelligence community. It would consist of a chairman appointed by the president and the heads of the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State intelligence branch and the respective service intelligence activities.

This would decentralize the intelligence "power" that rests in the hands of the CIA and ensure that the role of intelligence remains a supporting one -- while still providing needed information.

. A. Sagerholm


4 The writer is a retired vice admiral, U.S. Navy.

Falling leaves and children

This is the time of the year when the leaves fall off the trees. Children will always play with leaves, thinking it is a game, and cover themselves over with leaves. Sometimes the motorists do not see them in the leaves.

It is the sanitation department's responsibility to try to keep the leaves off the streets.

Parents have the responsibility to keep the children out of the street and away from the leaves. This is one way of keeping the accidents down. If we save only one child we have accomplished our mission.

. B. Quirmbach


It's not the type of surgery, it's the HMO

I am writing in reference to the Nov. 23 letter from Galia Berry that appeared under the headline, "Outpatient surgery not best for mastectomy patients." The last paragraph said, "One wonders if outpatient surgery would be done on a man suffering from testicular cancer." One no longer needs to wonder.

At the age of 35, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer and, yes, his surgery was done on an outpatient basis. Three hours after his surgery, because of our health insurance, CIGNA, my husband and I were "shooed" out of the recovery room to go home from a local Baltimore County hospital.

My husband had no idea where he was, and could hardly sit up in a chair by himself. It took myself and his brother to get him dressed. It took three people -- myself, his brother, and his mother -- to get him in the car and up to our bedroom. I was so upset about being rushed out of the hospital and worried about my husband that I did not think about home post-operative care.

age. I had to call the surgeon/hospital for home-care instructions the day after my husband's surgery, when the incision started to drain, and was told by the surgeon, "The draining is OK, see you in a week."

My husband's recovery at home was not as recuperative as compared to a hospital stay. We have two small children, ages 2 and 3 at the time. In addition, I had to return to work that Monday. His surgery was done on a Friday.

Since our insurance company's policy for testicular surgery was on an outpatient basis, we did not qualify for in-home nursing care. Consequently, I had to ask my husband's mother, who, luckily, is retired, to come on Monday, the entire day, to help him while I was at work. My husband needed help getting in and out of bed, in and out of a chair, and help in the bathroom. So much for quality health care.

Now the really interesting point. WIDOW WARNING My husband's brother was also diagnosed with testicular cancer, but three years earlier. He was not covered by an HMO, but rather by the Johns Hopkins Health Plan. His surgery was performed at Johns Hopkins Hospital, not on an outpatient basis but rather with a three-day stay in the hospital.

While my deepest sympathy goes out to anyone who is sick and needs surgery, especially outpatient surgery, and has to go through the physical and emotional pain of the surgery itself, an uncaring surgeon, hospital and health insurance company, the reality of it is that it is not the specific body part that determines whether or not surgery is performed on an outpatient basis; it also is not whether the patient is a male or female, or even whether the surgeon is a male or female. What matters most is the individual insurance company.

It holds the key to a better quality of hospital care, inpatient or outpatient.

Annette Smith


College board acts on flawed reasoning

As a longtime faculty member at Essex Couumunity College, I was dismayed by the behavior of the trustees of the Baltimore County community colleges at their recent board meeting.

With a few exceptions, what I saw were a bunch of power-hungry men who, unperturbed by their lack of familiarity with higher education, were eager to take over the job of managing directly the colleges whose management has been entrusted to them as overseers.

What I saw were individuals who voted to cripple the education process on the basis of rumors they freely attributed to one or two unnamed sources rather than properly adduced evidence.

Instantly axed were the conditions for attracting new faculty who would be willing to commit garies of lower echelon public-funded higher education.

Out went the sources for supporting curriculum development, cultural diversity, student retention and the coordination of a growing army of part-time classroom instructors.

And what were their reasons? That they have heard some professors are "coasting" or that time spent outside the classrooms is "abused" -- matters which certainly warrant a tough-minded process of performance review and professional evaluation.

Instead, this management by rumor was enacted without debate, even though the board has invested over $1 million out of our shrinking budgets in added administrative layers, which were expected to generate policy.

Vindictively presented by individuals who openly vented their bitterness against academics, the new mandates supplanted a process of policy recommendations which represents the expenditure of literally thousands of hours of administrative and faculty time, currently undertaken at the behest of this same board.

As I was leaving the board meeting, I couldn't help my anger at our uncaring politicians who have appointed and routinely renew the membership of this board, regardless of qualifications and regardless of the damage these political appointees may inflict on our hard-working students and the taxpayers who subsidize their college studies.

Kostis Papadantonakis


Hiss was convicted after Chambers lied

"The Hiss case still resonates," state Tom Bowman and Albert Sehlstedt Jr. in The Sun's obituary, Nov. 16, but they fail to mention the main reason, nearly half a century after hot debates, why it still does.

Any fair understanding of the Alger Hiss-Whittaker Chambers controversy has to include an awareness of this central fact, omitted from your summary: The case against Alger Hiss depends on the truthfulness of one man, Whittaker Chambers -- the only person ever to testify on oath that Alger Hiss was a Communist and/or a spy -- who admitted in court, under oath, that he had testified falsely on 16 separate occasions.

The most egregious of those lies -- not so much as hinted at by Messrs. Bowman and Sehlstedt -- is this: Chambers gave, under oath, two different and irreconcilable accounts.

In his original testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and for more than nine years, before a federal grand jury, and in a score of formal statements to government officials, Chambers denied that he or any person known to him had ever committed espionage.

He said he had quit the Communist Party in 1937.

On Aug. 3, 1948, about Hiss and the other New Dealers he named as Communists, whom he claimed to have known between 1935 and tion."

Your summary does not indicate that after Hiss sued for slander, Chambers reversed his previous testimony.

And that on Nov. 17, 1948, when he turned up with typed copies of 10-year-old State Department dispatches he said he had received from Hiss as part of a Russian spy plot, Chambers testified, "I have never previously informed anyone of this activity."

The papers Chambers produced were all dated in 1938.

Messrs. Bowman and Sehlstedt report that Chambers, in 1948, was able to offer "a near encyclopedic knowledge of Mr. Hiss and his family."

But they fail to mention that a source for much of that "knowledge" was probably the FBI agents who, for years beginning in 1945, conducted round-the-clock surveillance of Hiss, and who beginning in 1945 met with Chambers regularly after he was officially registered in FBI files as their informer.

It is a tragedy that Alger Hiss did not live to see his vindication; but many like me who are familiar with the record know that Alger was an honorable man, victim not of credible evidence but rather of the intense anti-Communist hysteria of the time.

The words Hiss' prosecutor, Thomas Murphy, used in his opening at trial are true today as they were 47 years ago: "If you don't believe Whittaker Chambers then we (the government) have no case."

William A. Reuben

New York, N.Y.

'Extraordinary' stories hailed

The Nov. 24 Sun article about Peter Culman and Center Stage rTC is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary man who has created and miraculously maintained one of Baltimore's cultural treasures.

In the same paper there was a report on the Police Athletic League centers for 3,000 youngsters aged 7 to 17.

This year-old effort by Commissioner Thomas Frazier's police force provides role-model mentors in constructive settings.

cern of many Baltimore groups and individuals for our young people.

Robert Bonnell Jr.


Let me decide music I should hear

It's clear to me that Georgia Corso (Nov 15, "Getting the garbage out of rock music") and Cal Thomas (Nov. 15, "Cleaning up in retail") are part of the vast majority of people brainwashed by our government into thinking that ing? First the government, now Wal-Mart, is deciding what is right or wrong. Wake up, people. Think for yourselves. If you don't want to hear profanities in your music, then don't buy music that has it. Make that decision for yourself.

It's really that simple. It's really pathetic that people feel it necessary to have a retail store decide for them what is right and wrong. Me, I'd rather not have my civil liberties violated. I'll think for myself.

ary M. Gettier


Pub Date: 11/30/96

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad