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Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

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Originally formed in 2003 by five retired senior U.S. intelligence officers, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)' opposed, on professional grounds, the Iraq War; it responded with a same-day analysis of the 5 February 2002 UN speech by Colin Powell. The group now has over 70 members, although some members have resigned over disagreement with specific positions taken by the group.

The group is a loose one and does not appear to have an active website; its position statements seem to be agreed-to by private collaboration among the members. Some members have resigned over disagreements on the focus of the group and over specific recommendations, although those individuals may still cooperate in other venues.

On 14 July 2003, the group issued a Memorandum to the President, referring to breakdowns in the national security apparatus that led to the Iraq War, as well as attempts at a coverup. These appeared to be consensus beliefs.[1]

One of the 14 July recommendations, however, was for President George W. Bush to call for the resignation of Vice-President Dick Cheney, as principally responsible for manipulation of intelligence. [2] Founding members Kathleen and Bill Christison did not sign it, and resigned from VIPS "...with some regret, as the only credible way to dissociate ourselves from the memo." They explaine "We want to make it clear at the start that our actions signal no change of heart or of thinking on our part about the policies the Bush administration has been pursuing. We share the disgust of other VIPS members at the aggressive policy direction of this administration and particularly at its distortion and politicization of intelligence. Our disagreement is over methods, not principles. Our objection is to this particular memorandum; we continue to respect the VIPS organization itself and its purposes...Our principal problem with the memo is its call for Cheney's resignation. Not that this result would not in fact please us. But our very strong feeling is that an organization like VIPS, and any serious policy analysts, should be writing about policies and actions, not personalities."

In a 2004 interview, Philip Giraldi spoke of their impression of the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. At that time, he said the group had 35 members. [3]

VIPS supported, in 2009, the nomination of Chas Freeman to the National Intelligence Council, in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. Freeman, however, withdrew his candidacy. [4]

Its April/May set of recommendations for the Obama Administration, concerning torture, was signed by 11 members. [5]

Besides torture, it expressed concern with violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it agreed with the replacement of Michael Hayden. It states "we believe you were badly misguided in giving a prominent White House post to former CIA director George Tenet’s protégé John Brennan, who has publicly defended “extraordinary rendition” in full knowledge that its purpose was torture. Brennan also had complicit knowledge of the lengths to which Tenet conspired with the Department of Justice to distort history and the law in drafting opinions that attempted to “justify” torture.

References

  1. Time to End the Dodginess: Intelligence Unglued, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, 14 July 2003
  2. Kathleen Christison and Bill Christison (15 July 2003), Why We Resigned from VIPS: It's About Policies, Not Personalities
  3. "The Skeptical Spy", Mother Jones, March 2004
  4. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (10 March 2009), Obama's DNI Urged to Back Freeman
  5. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (1 May 2009), Memo to President Obama on Torture