The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) was created to examine how the terrorist attacks of September 2001 could have occurred and what could be done to prevent future attacks. Among other things the Commission recommended that there should be a National Intelligence Director who would have “two main areas of responsibility” namely:
1) to oversee intelligence centers on specific subjects affecting national security; and
2) to oversee the national intelligence program and the agencies that contribute to it.
In effect the Commission wished to have a single authority that could that could task and co-ordinate the processes and operations of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). The U.S. Congress was more or less forced to act on this specific recommendation because of public pressure. Thus the position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) was created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
In April 2005, Ambassador John D. Negroponte, former Ambassador to Iraq, was sworn in as the first DNI. Negroponte was chosen because no qualified candidate from the so-called IC was willing to take the job. In truth, the DNI was forced on the Federal Government by outside forces and began with no support either in the Congress, the Executive Branch, or the so-called IC. Indeed President Bush made it clear that he considered the DNI unnecessary. The position of DNI had responsibility for, but no authority over the IC, had no ready made constituency within the government, and was considered an unnecessary intrusion on intelligence operations by the principal members of the IC.
Rotting Oder of Pentagon Info Op Signals Effort to Shore Up its Great Game in the Hindu Kush
On 13 June, James Risen of the New York Times conveniently (at least for the Pentagon and the war party) reported that the “United States has discovered $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan [also attached below for your convenience]. I say convenient, because time is running out for the Pentagon in Afghanistan, and this report introduces a ‘new’ reason for occupying Afghanistan. The timing of this report was noticed very quickly by several skeptical commentators ( e.g., here and here).
But there is more. The NYT report has the rotting odor of yet another Pentagon misinformation operation to lather up the masses using the willing offices of the tired old Gray Lady of journalism. The oder is intense, because Risen’s Pentagon-inspired geological report coincides with the growing disenchantment with Afghan adventure. And more people are coming to appreciate the disconnect between (1) a spate of credible reports (e.g., here) describing the lack of progress in Afghanistan, particularly the failure of the showcase Marja COIN strategy to deliver its predicted result and (2) the requirement imposed by President Obama to show progress by the end of this summer. Bear in mind, Obama’s ‘requirement’ was imposed on the Pentagon when he improved the flawed McChrystal/Petraeus surge plan and sold it to the American people last fall. The military and spokesmen for the Obama administration began immediately to back away from the deadline shortly after its inception, and it has already been stretched to coincide with the mid-term elections in November — which goes to show that domestic politics do not end at the water’s edge?
Although the several commentators expressed their justifiable skepticism about the timing of the NYT report, to the best of my knowledge, none have addressed the substance of the mineral estimate. Shortly after it was published, my good friend and colleague Pierre Sprey, who has been called a vampire because he does his best work in the dark after midnight, got to the heart of the latter question and put the entire story together in an elegantly brief email that he distributed in the dark early hours of 14 June.
Attached for your reading pleasure is Pierre’s incisive critique:
U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan
Pierre Sprey 14 June 2010
The timing of this release of ancient mining news–especially when floated with Petraeus’ name plastered all over it in a tried-and-true government propaganda outlet like the N.Y. Times–smells to me like a last ditch attempt to invent an economic justification for hanging on many more years in the hopeless Afghani morass.
Note that the now sacrosanct 1980s Russian mineral survey was “stumbled on” six years ago in 2004 by an American reconstruction team foraging in the Afghan Geological Survey Library. Then, according to the Times’ (read Petraeus and DoD) spin, nothing happened until two years later when the U.S. Geological Survey launched a 2006 aerial mineral survey followed by another in 2007, supposedly yielding all-new evidence of astonishing mineral wealth (iron, gold, copper, lithium, supposedly a trillion dollar’s worth) just waiting to be tapped. Supposedly, this astonishing new evidence was then ignored by all until a Pentagon business development task force “rediscovered” the ignored USGS mineral data in 2009.
This spin is quite untrue: in 2005, the Afghan government, quite aware of their mineral resources, opened bidding on copper mining leases in Logar Province, bidding that was won by the Chinese in 2007. As for the reliability of the USGS data, note that they report 1.8 billion tons of potential lithium deposits (lithium is very trendy with the greens these days) but only a puny 111 million tons in proven or probable deposits.
But none of this purportedly astonishing USGS aerial survey data has raised much dust in the international mining world, despite the fact that the entire current New York Times scoop was thoroughly covered by Reuters and Mining Exploration News a year ago in April of 2009.
So what turned the ho-hum Reuters news of April, 2009 into a hot Times scoop in June of 2010? Is there any connection with the desperate need of McChrystal, Petraeus and Gates for a life jacket, now that the Afghan surge they floated is sinking so rapidly?
WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
Chapter 20, “21st Century Counterintelligence: Evaluating the Health of the Nation,” especially Dereliction of Duty (Defense); Disinformation, Other Information Pathologies, & Repression; Emprire as a Cancer including Betrayal & Deceit; Impeacahable Offenses (Modern); Institutionalized Ineptitude; and Intelligence (Lack Of), all in the online hyperlinked version of INTELLIGENCE for Earth: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability (pages 179-205, in Part III.
Too technical, no processing, no analysis, no human (or cultural) intelligence to speak of, too many industry speakers, too many senior speakers, and no aggregation and integration across AF IQ, SO, YE, etcetera. Other than that, a great conference to be anticipated. We’ve asked for notes. The highlight: Jim Clapper in a goatee.
James R. Clapper Jr. was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence on April 11, 2007. He is the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense regarding intelligence, counterintelligence and security matters. He is also dual-hatted as the Director of Defense Intelligence and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence as his principal advisor regarding defense intelligence matters. He has been hthe National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director as a civilian; his last military assignment was as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. His earlier assignments included a variety of intelligence-related positions such as assistant chief of staff, intelligence, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and as director of intelligence for three war-fighting commands: U.S. Forces, Korea; Pacific Command; and Strategic Air Command. He served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia.
For those who say that comparing the current war in Afghanistan to the Vietnam War is taking things too far, here’s a reality check: It’s not taking things far enough. From the origins of these North-South conflicts to the role of insurgents and the pointlessness of this week’s Afghan presidential elections, it’s impossible to ignore the similarities between these wars. The places and faces may have changed but the enemy is old and familiar. The sooner the United States recognizes this, the sooner it can stop making the same mistakes in Afghanistan.