Can Intelligence Be Intelligent? (Wall Street Journal)
By BRET STEPHENS JANUARY 12, 2010
Exhibit A is last week’s unclassified White House memo on the attempted bombing of Flight 253 over the skies of Detroit. Though billed by National Security Adviser Jim Jones as a bombshell in its own right, the memo reads more like the bureaucratic equivalent of the old doctor joke about the operation succeeding and the patient dying.
[For Exhibit B…] turn to an unsparing new report on the U.S. military’s intelligence operations in Afghanistan. “Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy,” it begins. “U.S. intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis, and information they need to wage successful counterinsurgency.”
That’s not happy talk, particularly given that it comes from the man who now runs the Army’s intelligence efforts in the country, Major General Michael T. Flynn. But Gen. Flynn, along with co-authors Paul Batchelor of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Marine Captain (and former Journal reporter) Matt Pottinger, are just getting warmed up. Current intel products, they write, “tell ground units little they do not already know.” The intelligence community is “strangely oblivious of how little its analytical products, as they now exist, actually influence commanders.” There is little by way of personal accountability: “Except in rare cases, ineffective intel officers are allowed to stick around.”
Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007–about 24 years’ worth if watched continuously. That volume is expected to multiply in the coming years as drones are added to the fleet and as some start using multiple cameras to shoot in many directions.
It’s arguable that the few passages devoted to Marks’ below-the-radar role says more about the performance of the $44 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence community than the tens of thousands of words written about Dick Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld, George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice.
Why? Marks tells how U.S. troops went into Iraq with almost no idea where weapons of mass destruction were, and little idea of where units might stumble into sites holding chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological munitions.
When Spying Is A Gas (CQ Quarterly)
Desperate for intelligence on the movement of insurgents across the rugged landscape of Afghanistan, the Army is reaching back almost half a century for a surveillance craft that could linger in the sky for days to report on what it sees: the blimp.
How nation’s true jobles rate is closer to 22%
By JOHN CRUDELE January 12, 2010
I’ve been mentioning that under-employed figure — called U-6 by the Labor Department — for years and I’m glad everyone else has finally caught up.
But that larger figure doesn’t include a huge number of unemployed folks who have given up looking for work because they feel the search is hopeless. Last Friday’s report said 661,000 such people left the labor force in December.
If you count these hopelessly unemployed, the real jobless rate is probably close to 22 percent.
Phi Beta Iota: The US IC, now known to cost the taxpayer $75 billion a year, is out of balance, something we first documented in book-length detail inON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World (AFCEA, 2000). See the Graphic: Intelligence Out of Balance andGraphic: OSINT Competing Models. We spend too much on secrets, technical collection, and management, and too little on open sources, processing, and language-quallified humans in the field.
Sun Tzu equated knowing oneself to half the battle, the other half being knowing the enemy. The US Army had a brilliant project, GRANDVIEW, in the 1980’s, intended to understand the totality of any foreign nation so as to provide context for projecting their force capabilities and regional intentions. We do not do this to ourself because the US Government is not trained, equipped, nor organized to be intelligent–it is a cluster of stove-pipes dominated by the special interests feeding at each stove-pipe rather than a Whole of Govenrment operation that starts with defining the ends (and the threats to those ends), then develops a strategy, than a spectrum of instruments of national power needed capabilities and initiatives, and finally a budget. We do not do planning, programming, budgeting or operations as a government. Within the US, elements of the government are in competition with one another. Abroad, there is no US Ambassador who can tell you with precision who is doing what or who is spending what in that country from across the spectrum of US government agencies and departments. We really do not know.