The Republican antics in the hearings of the Benghazi Committee in the House or Representatives are a good example illustrating how broken American politics have become. The clear aim is narrowly political: to embarrass Hillary Clinton (and President Obama) for partisan reasons, while avoiding the roots of the larger Libyan debacle that flowed from the US led intervention. Accounting for the deeper causes of the Libyan debacle is off limits, because just about everyone’s hands are dirty: Our bombing campaign was supported by the Republican neo-cons and their humanitarian interventionist allies in the Obama White House, as well as a majority of the Republican congressional leadership* and most Democrats in Congress. So, the Democrats have tried to present the hearings as yet another anti-Clinton witch hunt for the parallel reason of partisan domestic politics.
28 Pages, 40 Questions
ROBERT STEELE: CIA was clearly a full participant in the drafting of these answers, many of which are utter nonsense (being effective at clandestine intelligence, all-source analysis, and open source intelligence, to take three fairly pertinent examples). The questions are the best I have ever seen over 30 years of watching this theater of the absurd. Brennan’s answers are a mix of world-class dissembling, avoidance of substance, and specious assurances. Harry Truman would be aghast at what the CIA has become. Below I offer honest answers to 6 of the 40 questions. I am always available for staff or Member testimony.
1A. How well do you think the CIA has performed recently in each of its primary missions:
CIA is broken beyond repair, and pathologically harmful in its present state. Drones and extrajudicial killings dominate its clerk-leaders’ time, its budget, and its culture. 90% of what CIA claims as clandestinely acquired information is actually a mix of hand-outs from foreign liaison services and domestically-acquired information. CIA does not do all-source analysis, its inexperienced analysts do cosmetics on very thin streams of technical collection on a handful of hard-targets, and know nothing at all about Global Coverage (e.g. Mali at the tribal level). CIA counterterrorism is non-existent, outside of prisoner interrogation in partnership with JSOG at secret prisons that still do exist (e.g. Somalia), and direct support to Mossad false flag operations intended to keep the public distracted from domestic issues. There is no CIA counterintelligence function to speak of, that remains the final career stop for those who cannot be found work anywhere else. Covert action continues to consist of contractors running drugs into the US via US military bases and rural strips in Texas and elsewhere, and a tiny handful of truly extraordinary very small operations that defy imagination and merit fulsome praise–those who do the latter are the real heroes at CIA. CIA is not central — it does NOT have access to most of the information that the National Security Agency and National Geospatial Agency collect, nor does it do more than 10% of what is possible in either clandestine collection or multilingual analog and human open source acquisition. CIA is not intelligent, its back office and desktop processing are still closer to the Soviet gulag (John Perry Barlow said this first) than Silicon Valley, and CIA is not an “agency,” there are at least seven different CIAs, only three of them legitimate.
2. What do you consider to be the appropriate role for the CIA in the collection of human intelligence, given that human intelligence also is collected by the Department of Defense and others parts of the Intelligence Community?
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Baluchistan Hearing, February 8, 2012
Testimony of Ralph Peters, military analyst and author
“PAKISTAN AS A FAILING EMPIRE”
Introductory remarks: This testimony arises from three premises.
First, we cannot analyze global events through reassuring ideological lenses, be they left or right, or we will continue to be mistaken, surprised and bewildered by foreign developments. The rest of the world will neither conform to our prejudices nor behave for our convenience.
Second, focusing obsessively on short-term problems blinds us to the root causes and frequent intractability of today’s conflicts. Because we do not know history, we wave history away. Yet, the only way to understand the new world disorder is to place current developments in the context of generations and even centuries. Otherwise, we will continue to blunder through situations in which we deploy to Afghanistan to end Taliban rule, only to find ourselves, a decade later, impatient to negotiate the Taliban’s return to power.
Third, we must not be afraid to “color outside of the lines.” When it comes to foreign affairs, Washington’s political spectrum is monochromatic: timid, conformist and wrong with breathtaking consistency. We have a Department of State that refuses to think beyond borders codified at Versailles nine decades ago; a Department of Defense that, faced with messianic and ethnic insurgencies, concocted its doctrine from irrelevant case studies of yesteryear’s Marxist guerrillas; and a think-tank community almost Stalinist in its rigid allegiance to twentieth-century models of how the world should work.
If we do not think innovatively, we will continue to fail ignobly.
For the latest on the effectiveness of oversight on private military and security contractors (PMSC) people should take a moment to peruse the hearing of the National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. On December 7 it held a hearing titled “Oversight in Iraq and Afghanistan: Challenges and Solutions,” chaired by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
. . . . . .
Boiled down to a single question, the issue is whether taxpayers are getting their money’s worth when the government uses PMSC. In this hearing the inspectors general community shared its perspective together on one panel. Ironically, the Defense Department, State Department, USAID and SIGAR will not have IGs in January and President Obama has yet to nominate any replacements.
Phi Beta Iota: The taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from the Department of Defense or any other Cabinet Department–contractors are imply an order of magnitude worse.