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Decades of failures: Why the CIA keeps blowing it

President Clinton gilded the lily when he said that Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, D-N.Y., was a product of that desperate New York district Hell’s Kitchen. The senator had grown up at least partly in the Midwest. Yet it was true that he had experienced the downside of life. The grandson of a County Kerry horse breeder, his more immediate memories were of a father who gambled, drank, womanized, and left his mother in 1937. The young Moynihan had accumulated  dollars as a shiner of shoes and as a longshoreman. He attended high school on the unprivileged fringes of Harlem.

Early in his political career, Moynihan championed the cause of the poor and the rights of African Americans. In spite of this radical background, he must have seemed an unlikely person to lead the renewed attack on the CIA that took place in the 1990s. In some ways, he had become distinctly unradical. As with other self-made men, he felt he could be frank about the shortcomings of those who remained in poverty. He offended the left through his criticism of the morals of the black family, and was sufficiently conservative to  serve in the administration of Richard Nixon. In  fact, Moynihan  resembled that  well-known  brand of  neoconservative who started on the political left and ended on the right. That should have meant support for the CIA, as, by the 1990s, the agency had become a firm favorite of conservatives. Moynihan instead lent his prestige to a notable assault.

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