General Michael Flynn (USA) has been nominated to become the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in spite of or because of his severe criticisms of the inability of the U.S. Intelligence System to produce useful strategic intelligence on Afghanistan. As a result among the small portion of the media that even noted his nomination, a good deal of nonsense has been written about DIA. I hope this will clear the air a bit.
The DIA was created by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1961 with the specific mission of providing a single voice for the individual military service intelligence commands. As with many of Secretary McNamara’s ideas, DIA completely ignored reality. The service chiefs simply ignored DIA and the directors of DIA (all general officers of those services) went along. In the press of the Vietnam War Secretary McNamara paid no attention to DIA after creating it. So DIA really had no defined mission and became known as the “redundant agency.”
Since its creation DIA has struggled to find a viable mission that would not interfere with the missions of the service intelligence commands or of the National Security Agency (NSA) which also was under the Department of Defense (DOD) or the independent Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which had considerable status as the senior intelligence authority and in the theory the ear of the President. This continues to be a problem with DIA having only Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) as its exclusive domain. DIA also has numerous heavily classified programs and projects, but when these see light of day they often prove to be pointless or even lunatic. DIA does have one central mission and that is to serve as the J2 (intelligence arm) for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (ICS). Having actually worked in J2, I can testify that this does not give DIA a good deal of authority either in the Intelligence Community (IC) or even with JCS.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is a powerful if obscure organization responsible for providing intelligence to military commands, the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its secret weapon: It’s chiefly responsible for all of the Defense Department’s human informants. Yet it can seem overly bureaucratic and in eclipse compared to the military tactical-intelligence shops it helps man.
“Flynn’s nomination is interesting because he does not seem like someone who would choose to be a placeholder at an agency in decline,” says spywatcher Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. “The appointment may signal a revival of DIA, or at least some upheaval.”
Flynn is the latest to ascend, pending Senate approval. And he’s probably not done breaking the spy community’s furniture.
Phi Beta Iota: From the US IC point of view, nothing changes as long as the money is constant. The point of the US IC is to waste $80 billion a year on corporate vaporware, not to actually provide intelligence. Jim Clapper, the single best qualified DNI in history, failed to change the IC because he did not focus on outputs–he let inputs and collection continue to drive the train, did nothing about processing, nothing significant about HUMINT, nothing at all about analysis which is worse off than it ever was, and he failed to actually create intelligence for Whole of Government or to implement initiatives in the open source intelligence and the multinational, multiagency, multidimentional, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making arena. He has been–like Gates was at DoD–a place holder, a token leader of one of the US budget’s sucking chest wounds. Flynn does not know what he does not know — he is simply not armed with what he needs to know to make the big changes that need to be made if intelligence with integrity is to be restored not just within DoD, but across Whole of Government. With his present knowledge base, surrounded by the ever-present sychophants, he will make changes on the margin. He will NOT change the craft of intelligence, especially if he continues to let contractors drive the train and rob the government of its key personnel. He is inheriting a corrupt, pathologically-fragmented mess completely lacking in integrity.
A US general who once blasted the work of military spies in Afghanistan as “only marginally relevant” has been nominated to take over the Pentagon’s intelligence agency, officials said.
The decision to name Lieutenant General Michael Flynn suggests a possible shake-up of the sprawling Defense Intelligence Agency as the general has earned a reputation for pushing for dramatic change in his work with special forces.
Flynn was a scathing public critic of military intelligence in Afghanistan, where he served as a top intelligence officer in 2010, saying it failed to provide decision makers with a clear picture of conditions on the ground.
He chose to publish his critique through a Washington think tank, the Center for a New American Security, instead of sticking to customary channels within the Pentagon bureaucracy.
“Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the US intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy,” his report said.
“Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which US and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade,” it said.
Flynn is credited with playing an influential role during his tenure at Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the secretive headquarters that oversees elite commandos like the team that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
At JSOC, Flynn reportedly persuaded special forces to place a higher priority on scooping up intelligence while carrying out targeted attacks on militants.
His nomination reflects the ascendancy of special forces in policy making both within and outside the American military, a trend reinforced by the successful operation against Bin Laden.
Flynn, whose nomination must be approved by the Senate, currently serves as the assistant director of national intelligence for partner engagement at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Phi Beta Iota: General Flynn has many challenges facing him at DIA: too many civilians with zero combat experience, redirection of MASINT dollars to HUMINT, while also integrating the fifteen slices of HUMINT into one coherent network using best in class commercial technologies; and resurrecting the now dead concepts of intelligence support to policy and acquisition (that is to say, intelligence with integrity that keeps policy honest and acquisition relevant). We pray for his success.
The US State Department has become the world’s leading user of ediplomacy. Ediplomacy now employs over 150 full-time personnel working in 25 different ediplomacy nodes at Headquarters. More than 900 people use it at US missions abroad.
Ediplomacy is now used across eight different program areas at State: Knowledge Management, Public Diplomacy and Internet Freedom dominate in terms of staffing and resources. However, it is also being used for Information Management, Consular, Disaster Response, harnessing External Resources and Policy Planning.
In some areas ediplomacy is changing the way State does business. In Public Diplomacy, State now operates what is effectively a global media empire, reaching a larger direct audience than the paid circulation of the ten largest US dailies and employing an army of diplomat-journalists to feed its 600-plus platforms. In other areas, like Knowledge Management, ediplomacy is finding solutions to problems that have plagued foreign ministries for centuries.
The slow pace of adaptation to ediplomacy by many foreign ministries suggests there is a degree of uncertainty over what ediplomacy is all about, what it can do and how pervasive its influence is going to be. This report – the result of a four-month research project in Washington DC – should help provide those answers.
ROBERT STEELE: Fergus Hanson of Australia has done a truly superb job of describing the considerable efforts within the Department of State to achieve some semblance of electronic coherence and capacity. What he misses–and this does not reduce the value of his effort in the slightest–is the complete absence of strategy or substance within State, or legitimacy in the eyes of those being addressed. If the Department of State were to demand the pre-approved Open Source Agency for the South-Central Campus, and get serious about being the lead agency for public intelligence in the public interest, ediplomacy could become something more than lipstick on the pig. The money is available. What is lacking right now is intelligence with integrity in support of global Whole of Government strategy, operations, tactics, and technical advancement (i.e. Open Source Everything).
Forgive the interruption. I reach out to you on a matter of some urgency, about my dear friend, a former CIA officer, dedicated, stoic, talented … and now in deep and terrifying trouble. What’s happening to him is so stunningly crappy, and so unjustifiable, that his defense and support has become a personal priority. Though triggered — I believe — by a personal and political agenda, I see his cause as strikingly apolitical: this is about a man falsely persecuted, and the survival of his family.
Please, please take a minute to look at the below. Any questions, reach out to me, and/or check out the sites at the bottom of this email.
Thanks so much,
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
We write to ask you to join us in supporting, protecting and materially helping our friend and colleague, John Kiriakou, a long-time former C.I.A. official and case officer. Incredibly, John has been accused by the Department of Justice of crimes under the 1917 Espionage Act, a charge historically reserved for persons who betrayed their country to foreign governments for money.
Why? The prosecutors have not claimed that John talked to any foreign government, passed any government documents or accepted funds from anyone hostile to the United States. Instead, according to the facts asserted in the indictment, he committed the “crime” of responding honestly to a query from the New York Times related to the agency’s interrogation program under the Bush Administration, which included waterboarding.
Okay. You got me. I can’t really tell you everything you need to know about big data. The one thing I discovered last week – as I joined more than 2,500 data junkies from around the world for the O’Reilly Strata conference in rainy Santa Clara California—is that nobody can, not Google, not Intel, not even IBM. All I can guarantee you is that you’ll be hearing a lot more about it.
What is big data? Roughly defined, it refers to massive data sets that can be used to predict or model future events. That can include everything from the online purchase history of millions of Americans (to predict what they’re about to buy) to where people in San Francisco are most likely to jog (according to GPS) to Facebook posts and Twitter trends and 100 year storm records.
Phi Beta Iota: Big data is most important for what it can tell you about true cost and whole system cause and effect, inclusive of political corruption and organizational fraud. These are past and present issues, not future issues. We design the future based on the integrity present today. This is why “open everything” matters.
With that in mind, here’s the three most important things you need to know about big data right now:
Back in 2002 while I was at a major Command, Friedman made a pitch to provide “ground truth” intelligence on contract. While some folks went gaga over his presentation, there were many small indicators that all was not well. Apparently Friedman was asked to leave LSU for reasons undetermined. Offically, according to STRATFOR ” In 1997, a small company that would eventually grow into Stratfor—called Strategic Intelligence LLC—left Baton Rouge and LSU, where its founder George Friedman had been a professor. A 1999 profile in Texas Monthly said the company “couldn’t thrive” in Baton Rouge, and that’s why Friedman took it to Austin, where it blossomed into a global powerhouse.”
Reasoning heard on the street by colleagues active in San Antonio, he was bankrolled by Mossad and they wanted him in an area of hightech.
I have read his comments about OSS and you specifically; his arrogance is unbelievable. His “analysts” are currently UT-Austin students with a couple of “seasoned veterans”, none of whom have an intelligence
He has been described as a neocon and I think that fits. From where I sit, I think STRATFOR is finished, they are trying very hard to regain their client base….with little success…
Recently, the New York Times (4 February 2012) published a story, “U.S. Plans Shift to Elite Units as It Winds Down in Afghanistan”, and the Washington Post (5 February 2012) followed with “U.S. to elevate Special Operations forces’ role in Afghanistan.”
From the Washington Post version, I noted the following salient points.
“The U.S. military is planning to elevate the role of Special Operations forces in Afghanistan as it shifts away from a combat focus to a mission that places greater emphasis on advising Afghan forces and raids to kill top insurgent leaders, senior U.S. officials said.”
“As American troop levels drop, U.S. commanders will by necessity have to rely more heavily on Afghan units to operate with minimal support from big, conventional Army and Marine units.”
“The new focus could rely on American Special Forces soldiers to fill out some of the advisory teams in the most violent areas of Afghanistan. The Special Forces troops would continue to advise and mentor elite Afghan units and the Afghan local police, a program in which villages form units to defend themselves. The primary mission of the Army’s Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, is to mentor, train and fight alongside indigenous forces. The Special Forces teams also have the ability to marshal firepower from American warplanes for Afghan forces.”
Meanwhile, in an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post on 9 February 2012, George F. Will wrote “the drone war is being waged more vigorously than ever….”.
The evolutionary development that is most impressive is evolving from using the firepower of American piloted warplanes to the use of unmanned drones mentioned by George Will.
In my book, “Cash on Delivery: CIA Special Operations During the Secret War in Laos” (www.rosebankpress.com), I wrote, “At the beginning of the “Global War on Terrorism”, which began in September 2001, the American military’s subsequent actions in Afghanistan brought new publicity to the use of special operations in denied areas. The use of small teams consisting of Rangers, Seals, Delta Force or others of this type of specially trained soldier in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy’s advanced smart bomb technology may turn out to be an advancement in warfare equivalent to the long bow, gunpowder, the machine gun, the tank or the airplane. The combination of global positioning systems, laser guidance, detailed maps, radar, J-Stars, and moving target indicators make the delivery of bombs by the United States Air Force and the United States Navy the most deadly and accurate ever.”
This early 2000s use of special operations forces and advanced technology for bomb delivery were precursors to the “drone war” we see today. The earlier advanced technology, mentioned above, was improved and eventually augmented by the drone for the delivery of missiles and even the missiles have evolved into more accurate and deadly munitions.
It is a simple calculus on the surface. Intelligence is collected by using technology, i.e., aerial surveillance, intercepts, etc, or by using human sources, i.e., informants, prisoners, and/or captured documents and equipment. The intelligence is analyzed and targets are developed. Action is taken in the form of drone attack or perhaps ground attack. If ground attacks are made, more intelligence may be gained from prisoners, captured documents or captured equipment, such as computers or cell phones.
Ground attacks might be made by all-American units, hybrid American-Afghan units or by all-Afghan units. In special operations in other countries, merely substitute the local participant from the country in which the special operations are taking place.
The special operations formula might be expressed this way, intelligence (technical and/or humint) + action (technical and/or human) = terrorist elimination. There is nothing new in this formula. What is new is the technology that can be used for intelligence collection or for action, i.e., drones.
Stephen Aftergood wrote in “Secrecy News”, 21 February 2012, “USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] and the CIA currently coordinate, share, exchange liaison officers and operate side by side in the conduct of DOD overt and clandestine operations and CIA’s covert operations, said Michael D. Lumpkin, acting assistant secretary of defense.”
“Our activities are mutually supportive based on each organization’s strengths and weaknesses and overall capabilities. Whichever organization has primary authority to conduct the operation leads; whichever organization has the superior planning and expertise plans it; both organizations share information about intelligence, plans, and ongoing operations fully and completely. Whether one or both organizations participate in the execution depends on the scope of the plan and the effect that needs to be achieved. Currently all USSOCOM and CIA operations are coordinated and deconflicted at all levels.”
The Osama bin Laden raid is a successful application of the special operations formula, with emphasis on all-American air and ground units.
The technical intelligence collection part of the formula can continue to be all-American for quite a while, but what we need to see, as soon as possible, is all-Afghan human intelligence collection and all-Afghan ground action units. Actually, I hope we never hear the details. Call me old school, but I prefer that the details remain secret. However, I would really love to believe that one day the special operations formula will be Afghan intelligence collection + Afghan action = terrorist elimination. We should all hope that all-Afghan special operations will result in the capture of terrorists and the seizure of equipment leading to significant new intelligence, thus contributing to a continuing cycle of intelligence + action = terrorist elimination.
Since evocations of the Vietnam War seem to rile so many, one hopes there is never an inclination to call it “Afghanization”.
The goal of worldwide special operations must be evolution from al-American to hybrid indigenous-American to (finally) all-indigenous action units with, at most, American participation as program managers who never participate “on the ground” but only in advising and providing support.
In the brief introduction to a review of the book, Very Special Intelligence, Dolphin noted that the successful tactical doctrine of using combined intelligence and combat troops in tightly organized teams was being seriously diluted by the U.S. IC (read CIA, DIA, NGA and NSA) who were moving to fold the intelligence elements involved into the bureaucratic mainstream and to automate the intelligence processes involved.
As I noted in an earlier article (The Triumph of Tactical Intelligence) U.S. Forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations (COIN) in both Iraq and Afghanistan have developed an innovative tactical concept, which Dolphin noted was based on research and development work done at the U. S. Naval Post Graduate School by a team under General Dell Daily. The essence of this concept is the High-value Target Teams (HTT) which integrates special operations forces fighters with military and civilian intelligence analysts into tightly organized teams in which immediate tactical intelligence is essential to identifying so called high value targets (usually individuals) and guiding war-fighters to their locations. This apparently was not a case of intelligence support being provided by folks sitting far from the action phoning in information, but of intelligence support being very much part of the operation itself with the war fighters. At a recent hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Special Operations Forces, Michael D. Lumpkin, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense said, “USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] and the CIA currently coordinate, share, exchange liaison officers and operate side by side in the conduct of DOD overt and clandestine operations and CIA’s covert operations.”
Lord James of Blackheath, House of Lords [VIDEO 11:10] from 2010, now circulating
Breaking news Lord James of Blackheath has spoken in the House of Lords holding evidence of three transactions of 5 Trillion each and a transaction of 750,000 metric tonnes of gold and has called for an investigation.
I think there are three possible conclusions that may come from it. I think there may have been a massive piece of money laundering committed by a major government which ought to know better and that it has effectively undermined the integrity of the British bank the Royal Bank of Scotland, in doing so. The second alternative is that a major American department has an agency that has gone rogue on it because it has been wound up and has created a structure out of which they are seeking to get at least 50 billion Euros as a payoff. And the third possibility is that this is an extraordinarily elaborate fraud which has not been carried out but which has been prepared in order to provide a threat to one government or more if they don’t pay them off. So there are three possibilities and this all needs a very urgent review.
My Lords, it starts in April and May of 2009, with the alleged transfer to the United Kingdom, to HSBC of a sum of 5 trillion dollars and seven days later, in comes another 5 trillion dollars to HSBC, and then 3 weeks later another 5 trillion. 5 trillion in each case. Sorry. A total of 15 trillion dollars is alleged to have been passed into the hands of HSBC for onward transit to the Royal Bank of Scotland and we need to look at where this came from and what the history of this money is. And I have been trying to sort out the sequence by which this money has been created and from where it has come from for a long time.
The Andrew J. Bacevich article, “Slouching Toward Persistent War” (NYT 19 Feb 2012) points among other things to the rise of Special Operations Forces (SOF) as the instrument of choice to carry out clandestine warfare against individual and groups designated enemies of the U.S. (or close U.S. allies i.e. Israel). It also cited the rise of Michael Vickers to be Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence as further evidence of the growing importance of SOF.
Vickers is a ten year veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces and then served three years at CIA as principal logistic manager for support going to the anti-Soviet Taliban resistance fighters in Afghanistan. These experiences along with a PhD apparently were felt to qualify Vickers to head up DOD intelligence.
What Bacevich failed to take note of was a new and successful tactical concept that was developed by the U.S. Forces, mainly Army and Marine infantry, in the course of the counter insurgency (COIN) operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This concept has been the subject of a careful study by two researchers at the Institute of National Strategic Studies of the DOD’s Defense University: Dr. Christopher Lamb and Mr. Evan Munsing produced a study titled, “Strategic Perspectives entitled “Secret Weapon: High-value Target Teams as an Organizational Innovation.” In the study they examined the repeated successes of the High-value Target Teams in eliminating al Qaeda and insurgent Taliban leaders. The secret according to the two authors was the combination of special operations forces fighters with military and civilian intelligence analysts into tightly net teams in which immediate tactical intelligence was essential to guiding the fighters to their targets. This apparently was not a case of intelligence support being provided by folks sitting far from the action phoning in information, but of intelligence support being very much part of the operation itself with the war fighters. CIA has increasingly become part of this new concept and the move of General David Petraeus to be Director of CIA may reflect this involvement of the agency with real time support to military operations.
Of course this also means that the probability is that CIA will continue to ignore strategic intelligence or what Robert Steele describes as Whole of Government Decision-Support and also multinational information-sharing and sense-making. In other words, CIA has become MIA (pun intended).
I have begun drafting my portion of the new Handbook of Intelligence Studies (Routledge, 2013), it is a chapter early on entitled “The Craft of Intelligence.” I pick up where Allen Dulles and Sherman Kent left off. My graphic on Intelligence Maturity captures the essence of my thinking at the strategic level, but of course there is more to come, including the desperate need to restore integrity to all that we do.
In 1988 I ghost-wrote for the Commandant of the Marine Corps an article that he enhanced and signed, “Global Intelligence Challenges in the 1990’s.” At that time my focus was on the difference between the conventional threat and the emerging unconventional threat.
Now my focus is on the purpose and process of intelligence as decision-support. We must — we will — move from secret intelligence for the few to open intelligence for the many; from expensive centralized largely worthless intelligence to free and low-cost distributed intelligence relevant to every person at every level on every issue; from intelligence as window-dressing for channeling $80 billion a year to banks and corporations, to intelligence as an integral element of every aspect of a Smart Nation.
This article is completely out of touch with reality and the authors have not bothered to familiarize themselves with the literatures pertinent to their endeavor. Out of 89 cited sources 12 are non-intelligence-related prior publications of the lead author, 1 is a prior publication of the second author, and 11 are ostensibly about intelligence but truly marginal selections. So 12% sources on the subject, 13% self-citation, and 75% escoteric psycho-babble irrelevant to the actual challenge. As an intelligence professional, I am offended that two ostensibly erudite individuals would dare to publish this trype without even a semblance of understanding of the subject under discussion.
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.
James R. Clapper Jr. said capabilities, technologies, know-how, communications and environmental forces “aren’t confined by borders and can trigger transnational disruptions with astonishing speed.”
“Never before has the intelligence community been called upon to master such complexity on so many issues in such a resource- constrained environment,” he added.
CIA Director David H. Petraeus, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. and others accompanied Clapper during his testimony on Capitol Hill. Clapper spoke for all agencies in his opening statement.
All U.S. agencies are combating the complex environment and making sense of the threats by continuing to integrate the community and “by taking advantage of new technologies, implementing new efficiencies and, as always, simply working hard,” Clapper said.
Still, he said, all agencies are confronting the difficult fiscal environment.
“Maintaining the world’s premier intelligence enterprise in the face of shrinking budgets will be difficult,” the director said. “We’ll be accepting and managing risk more so than we’ve had to do in the last decade.”
Terrorism and proliferation remain the first threats the intelligence agencies must face, he said, and the next three years will be crucial. [Read more: Garamone/AFPS/31January2012]
Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State
by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin
Little, Brown, 296 pp., $27.99
Intelligence and US Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform
by Paul R. Pillar
Columbia University Press, 413 pp., $29.50
Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda
by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker
Times Books, 324 pp., $27.00
What is the American intelligence bureaucracy good for? The question is difficult to ask in a serious way in Washington because it risks raising the hackles of career intelligence professionals and their political sponsors at a time when spy agencies remain under pressure to combat resilient if diminished international terrorist groups and to monitor and check Iran’s nuclear program, among other challenges. Yet a serious, transparent review of the intelligence system’s strengths and limitations is overdue.
The past decade has witnessed one of the most egregious misuses of intelligence in American history—the Bush administration’s distortion of information about Saddam Hussein’s terrorist ties and unconventional weapons, in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. It has also seen a surge of paramilitary activity and covert action that has included the operation of secret prisons, the use of torture, and targeted killing. The Obama administration ended officially sanctioned torture, but it has refused to allow official inquiries into how it occurred, and the administration has increased the number of covert, unacknowledged targeted killings through the use of armed, unmanned aerial drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.
In all, a president who might have challenged the American intelligence bureaucracy and given it a new direction has instead maintained and even expanded what he inherited. Nor has Congress reviewed the hasty organizational reforms it enacted after September 11 or reckoned in depth with the problems exposed by the Iraq disaster. The vital questions that seemed to be begged after the Bush era—about the intelligence system’s scope, effectiveness, costs, outsourcing, legal justifications, and vulnerability to politicization—have remained largely unaddressed.
. . . . . . .
After September 11, newspaper Op-Ed pages were full of recommendations for radical departures in American intelligence, changes that might place new emphasis on lean and adaptable operations. There was much talk of a long-term development of “human sources of information”; of the need for risk-taking and the bold penetration of what are known in the intelligence agencies as “denied areas,” such as Iran and North Korea. Some of that ambition has been fulfilled; it is difficult to measure how much, since so much of the detail of post–September 11 covert action and intelligence collection remains secret.
. . . . . .
What is plain, nonetheless, is that the larger story of the American intelligence system is one of continuity. The bureaucracy has defended itself from outside investigation and oversight and has followed many of the trajectories set during the Eisenhower years. The relative strengths of tactical American intelligence tradecraft today include innovative technology, vacuum cleaner–like collection of electronic data worldwide, computer algorithms that sort valuable information from noise, and the bludgeoning effects on adversaries of huge if wasteful spending. These methods look very similar to those of the anti-Soviet intelligence system. The bureaucracy’s weaknesses—inefficiency, ignorance of local cultures, revolving doors, self-perpetuation, vulnerability to political pressure, and an overall lack of accountability—are deeply familiar, too.
Phi Beta Iota: The New York Review of Books is retarded. Search for the article to read the full piece without their demand for registration. We note with interest that most of these themes were clearly addressed by Robert Steele in ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World (AFCEA, 2000), but “blacked out” by the sycophantic media including Steve Coll and David Ignatius. It is a rare day when a mainstream media person gets this real–Mr. Coll now administers the New America Foundation, a front for the Obama Administration that receives taxpayer funding it has not earned. This sudden “conversion” by Mr. Coll may be a preamble to a very large but still insufficient and ineffective cut of secret intelligence just prior to the election. Neither Mr. Coll nor the Obama Administration are interested in intelligence with integrity–only profiteering from the commonwealth while flim-flaming the public with theatrics.