MOSCOW. (Gennady Yevstafyev for RIA Novosti.) -- The resignation of Robert Grenier from the post of head of the Counterterrorism Center of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could have been routine news but for several aspects that worry Russian counterterrorism specialists.
Since the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center in August 2004, the CIA and its structure have lost a substantial part of their influence. However, the CIA remains a major weapon of the U.S. intelligence community in the war against global terrorism. Moreover, joint struggle against it is one of the few fields where Russia and the United States maintain effective cooperation. This is why we care for the Center's well-being.
Firstly, Grenier is the third head of the Center to resign and such instability cannot benefit the common cause.
Secondly, the U.S. press claims that serious information was leaked from the Center and that the CIA director had ordered an internal investigation. This is a very delicate question for the U.S. agency's partners who would like to be sure that the leaks did not involve the information they had provided and that the U.S. special services are taking good care of it.
And thirdly, we hope that regular changes in this part of the U.S. intelligence community will not provoke an exodus of professionals and terrorism experts.
It is a well-known fact that the U.S. special services, especially their divisions dealing with the problems of the Middle East and several other key regions, have been put in a difficult position by the political instructions of Washington conservatives and made several gross mistakes in assessing the situation outlook, primarily in the Islamic world.
This does not seem to affect Russia. However, we have mixed feelings over the possibility that Grenier was laid off for not being "aggressive enough or forward leaning enough." We advocate an active joint struggle against international terrorism. But we cannot accept the creation of "secret prisons" in some countries, including Western Europe, the use of illegal methods of surveillance, and repeated bombing of innocent peasants in the northwestern border province of Pakistan. This calls for a different kind of operation.
The United States has enough experts who know that the war on terror should combine professional operations with discrediting the ideology of terrorism and its advocates. The latter aspect is becoming increasingly important. If the current leaders of the Counterterrorism Center view the situation from this angle, the Center's goal of undertaking new serious anti-terrorist operations is attainable, and its foreign partners will welcome its efforts to implement it.
The war against international terrorism will be long and difficult. Though we have no special sympathy for the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community as a whole, we nevertheless want terrorism experts to develop their cooperation effectively, and think that this is in our common interests.
Lieutenant General Gennady Yevstafyev is a retired officer of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board.