John Perry Barlow: Why Spy?

Government, Ineptitude, IO Impotency
John Perry Barlow

Why Spy?

John Perry Barlow

Forbes, 10.07.02

If the spooks can’t analyze their own data, why call it intelligence?

For more than a year now, there has been a deluge of stories and op-ed pieces about the failure of the American intelligence community to detect or prevent the September 11, 2001, massacre. Nearly all of these accounts have expressed astonishment at the apparent incompetence of America’s watchdogs.

I’m astonished that anyone’s astonished.

The visual impairment of our multitudinous spookhouses has long been the least secret of their secrets. Their shortcomings go back 50 years, when they were still presumably efficient but somehow failed to detect several million Chinese military “volunteers” heading south into Korea. The surprise attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were only the most recent oversight disasters. And for service like this we are paying between $30 billion and $50 billion a year. Talk about a faith-based initiative.

After a decade of both fighting with and consulting to the intelligence community, I’ve concluded that the American intelligence system is broken beyond repair, self-protective beyond reform, and permanently fixated on a world that no longer exists.

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