THE CHARGES against Robert Gates last week could not be more serious. His own colleagues at the Central Intelligence Agency, one of whom advanced and prospered within the agency under his guidance, said that Gates skewed intelligence to conform to the political wishes of superiors. These analysts said that Gates systematically and deliberately quashed dissent the single most important issue the agency had to deal with: the Soviet Union.
While agency analysts were trying to get the word out that the Soviet economy was in a death spin and that the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev were genuine, Gates was promoting just the opposite conclusion: that the Soviet Union was still an economic juggernaut with increasing military prowess.
Gates' strongest advocate has been former CIA analyst Graham Fuller, the man who concluded that there were moderates in Iran -- a basis for the harebrained Iran-contra deal. What is his credibility? And Fuller, and Gates' defenders, suggest that Gates' critics are really just disgruntled bureaucrats (liberals, said Fuller) who lost an argument.