Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is a group of former officers of the United States Intelligence Community including some from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. State Department's Intelligence Bureau (INR), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). It was founded in January 2003 when the group issued a statement accusing the Bush Administration of misrepresenting U.S. national intelligence information in order to push the US and its allies toward that year's US-led invasion of Iraq. The group issued a letter stating that intelligence analysts were not being heeded by policy makers.
- After the close call yesterday when you called off the planned military strike on Iran, we remain concerned that you are about to be mousetrapped into war with Iran. You have said you do not want such a war (no sane person would), and our comments below are based on that premise. There are troubling signs that Secretary Pompeo is not likely to jettison his more warlike approach, More importantly, we know from personal experience with Pompeo’s dismissive attitude to instructions from you that his agenda can deviate from yours on issues of major consequence... Pompeo’s behavior betrays a strong desire to resort to military action — perhaps even without your approval — to Iranian provocations (real or imagined), with no discernible strategic goal other than to advance the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He is a neophyte compared to his anti-Iran partner John Bolton, whose dilettante approach to interpreting intelligence, strong advocacy of the misbegotten war on Iraq (and continued pride in his role in promoting it), and fierce pursuit of his own aggressive agenda are a matter of a decades-long record.
- You may not be fully aware of our experience with Pompeo, who has now taken the lead on Iran. That experience leaves us with strong doubt regarding his trustworthiness on issues of consequence to you and the country, including the contentious issue of alleged Russian hacking into the DNC. The sketchy “evidence” behind that story has now crumbled, thanks to some unusual candor from the Department of Justice. We refer to the extraordinary revelation in a recent Department of Justice court filing that former FBI Director James Comey never required a final forensic report from the DNC-hired cybersecurity company, CrowdStrike... We believe your final decision yesterday was the right one — given the so-called “fog of war” and against the background of a long list of intelligence mistakes, not to mention “cooking” shenanigans.
The point here is that Pompeo could have exposed the lies about Russian hacking of the DNC, had he done what you asked him to do almost two years ago when he was director of the CIA...
- We believe your final decision yesterday was the right one — given the so-called “fog of war” and against the background of a long list of intelligence mistakes, not to mention “cooking” shenanigans. ...We think Tucker Carlson had it right yesterday evening: “The very people — in some cases, literally the same people who lured us into the Iraq quagmire 16 years ago — are demanding a new war — this one with Iran. Carlson described you as “skeptical.” We believe ample skepticism is warranted... We are at your disposal, should you wish to discuss any of this with us.
- Mr. President: Your Administration’s policies regarding Venezuela appear to be on a slippery slope that could take us toward war in Venezuela and military confrontation with Russia. As former intelligence officers and other national security practitioners with many decades of experience, we urge you not to let yourself be egged on into taking potentially catastrophic military action in response to civil unrest in Venezuela or Russian activities in the Western Hemisphere. With the recent arrival of two transport aircraft and enduring political support for the government of Venezuela, the Russians are far from crossing any “red line” emanating from the 1823 Monroe Doctrine... Inside Venezuela, U.S. actions have failed to do more than plunge the country into deeper crisis, cause greater human suffering, and increase the prospects of violence on a national scale. President Maduro’s mishandling of the economy and authoritarian reactions to provocations are impossible to defend, but they result in part from the fact that he has been under siege since he was first elected in 2013 and has faced sanctions aimed ultimately at removing him from office. In our view, the advice you’ve received from your top advisors – Florida Senator Marco Rubio, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Special Representative Elliott Abrams, and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo – was and apparently continues to be wrong... your Administration’s repeated hints at military intervention have been counterproductive to your regime-change objectives.
- Your Administration’s strategy of punishing the Venezuelan people, including apparently knocking out their electricity, seems based on the false assumption that humanitarian crisis will prompt a coup to remove Maduro. In fact, the U.S. sanctions have allowed Maduro to shift blame from his own failings to U.S. malice – and it has left Guaidó, whom your advisors portray as the moral equivalent of our Founders, looking like a sell-out to Yankee imperialists at the cost of the Venezuelan people’s health and welfare and magnified civil disorder... Most dangerous, however, are aggressive statements about Russia’s engagement with Venezuela. Russian oil companies, particular Rosneft, have long been in Venezuela – bailing out the Venezuelan petroleum company (PDVSA) as its mismanagement and falling oil prices have caused production and revenues to plummet... Most dangerous, however, are aggressive statements about Russia’s engagement with Venezuela. Russian oil companies, particular Rosneft, have long been in Venezuela – bailing out the Venezuelan petroleum company (PDVSA)...
As intelligence officers and security experts, we have given many years to protecting our nation from a host of threats, including from the Soviet Union. We also believe, however, that picking fights, including ousting governments, blocking negotiated settlements, and threatening other countries’ sovereign decision to pursue activities that do not threaten our national security – is rarely the wise way to go.