AN Security

Part IV: The Failures of Intelligence

In Christmas Day terrorist attack, CIA attack in Afghanistan, FDR and German terrorism, fifth column terror, indications and warning failures, j edgar hoover, KSM 9/11 trial, US intelligence on January 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Praise for the CIA operatives protecting our country while facing great dangers is something of the past and the agency gets even less recognition since 9/11 as someone or some agency had to take the blame for the surprise coordinated attacks which pushed the U.S. and most of the world into war. Even after Homeland Security absorbed most federal law enforcement agencies following the September 11 attacks the process of sharing information as well as organizational rivalries still pose a problem within the intelligence community. Though tempting to shift blame to the services, intelligence sharing in this case may not be as troublesome as acting on such intelligence once it is delivered by the IC. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of the lawmaker, the end user, not the ones who collect, analyze and deliver the product. Much of the controversy around the CIA’s role in the war on terror is the reminder that mistakes have been made but never seem to want to focus on its successes.

The CIA has a daunting task in Afghanistan and sometimes a sign of success, as is the case with a COIN approach is that retaliation is a powerful weapon the enemy is not afraid to use. A lot of the CIA’s problems could be attributed to bad publicity, as this causes a decline in public support of an agency designed to keep things from the public. This is not to say that the entire system is compromised to an extent because of all the constant reforms between administrations that do not allow the IC to make progress or even get around to implementing changes.

Where a minority of Americans may be fully aware of this conundrum – and I say this considering the average person has little or no knowledge of the nature of intelligence work – the ruling majority puts sufficient pressure on officials to force the disclosure of declassification materials aimed at making research easier. The administration is spearheading what appear to be strangely illogical projects put on hold long ago because of lack of importance back on the table. The inappropriateness of announcing added rights to foreign police forces, disclosing strategy on a national stage before deploying troops and other slip-of-the-tongue moments can be either incredibly incompetent or deliberate. There is little room for a gray area here. What is happening today is the result of bad policy and lack of understanding that information is more important when it is not made public. This should be a time for restraint but we are fast approaching the limits of reasonableness with the disclosure of information.

Why exactly is the botched bombing of the Delta flight the CIA’s failure? If the information is collected, analyzed and delivered to the appropriate parties then it is up to the end user to take action. The nation’s indications and warning system may not be perfect, as it is composed of people sifting through information and making it all make sense for decision-makers – but it is alive and well. There are scores of intelligence personnel working these cases but in spite of all their efforts producing timely intelligence is a daunting task. It is reported that the president had prior knowledge of the potential threat of an attack during the holiday season yet the attack went on as planned. The fortunate fact that the bomber failed to complete his mission due to a technical problem does not downgrade the situation. The Customs and Border Patrol have finally admitted there was a second arrest of a passenger after bomb sniffing dogs were brought on the scene. Obviously the existence of a second suspect elevates the magnitude of the attack.

And yes, it would have been just the kind of impact the bad guys achieved on 9/11 had it been successful on Christmas. Recently a story broke out that Britain’s MI5 had intelligence on Abdulmutallab’s extreme views since 2006 however held on to the information to protect his human rights and privacy. There are always two sides to any coin.

Umar-Farouk-Abdulmutallab

When laypeople point fingers at intelligence for failing to perform its job there is a great deal of ignorance involved, and that includes many lawmakers. The U.S. indications and warning system may not be completely efficient but if given proper attention at the cabinet level these warnings can actually be factored in to fit theoretical scenarios that will be stored for use in an emergency. Maybe the players are different than those in real life but at least there would be some sort of strategy available. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to work a problem without some background information. In the absence of concrete idea of how to proceed, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame intelligence.

The CIA chief is fighting back; something that could be good or bad, depending on how much trust one can put on him. The ball was dropped by the administration, not the agencies and if so, why? The successful attack on a CIA Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Afghanistan has dealt a huge blow to COIN operations in theatre. Now the CIA loses much needed personnel plus they have to fight for its reputation at home. In addition to this tragedy one must stop to examine the very possibility that prisoners released from GITMO who may have had access to photographs of CIA operatives provided by their attorneys could be apt to use that information to further identify more officers in the field. How information is shared between agencies will always be something that needs to be integrated so that the specific organizational mission of each agency is not compromised but intelligence useful to others can and will be made available. This is an old problem. As police do not like to reveal their information sources on the street to say, federal agencies because that could compromise the sources’ security, so do intelligence (civilian and military) people.

General Jones’s contention that the intelligence failure report will shock the public is rather fascinating. Considering the fact that the information on the bomber’s potential threat was known by White House staffers but was not disseminated promptly due to holiday absences. Furthermore, and this is the reason many people miss so many things all the time – because they do not read carefully and thouroughly – General Jones cited research conducted on the intelligence errors everyone is talking about and something hit me. In one article there was a brief mention of an assessment from the Center for a New American Security. This private national security think tank is something of a contradiction, so it merited further investigation. The CNAS was founded by former Hillary Clinton advisor Michele Flournoy, who switched battle tents when Clinton’s campaign began to die down and has been on Obama’s payroll since, scoring the post of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. She and Kurt Campbell, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, co-founded this think tank. The list of illustrious people such as John Podesta (gag), Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Flournoy is someone to watch. She has been a strong advocate and campaigned heavily in 2009 for the closure of GITMO and for transferring some of the prisoners to the United States.

Her argument, after facing staunch opposition from many in the Congress, was that since the U.S. exptects other allied countries to take prisoners then it should take on some in order to do its fair share. She said this to the Chicago Tribune in 2009. Flournoy calls herself a ‘progressive centrist’ who believes that the U.S. (okay, Bush) made a mistake in calling Iran part of the Axis of Evil because Iran had extended support followin the 9/11 attacks. I must have been distracted that day, dodging airborne attacks, panic in the streets and burning buildings because I do not recall that. She thinks the U.S. should engage Iran and Syria in dialogue and would  be happy to re-regulate and reform the Intelligence Community because we do not have a infrastructure capable of handling national emergencies.

SIDE NOTE: That’s strange. Mr. Obama needed three months of silence and reflection before he announced to General Stanley McChristal of his Afghanistan troop surge plan yet it took him a day or so before he ordered the deployment of Navy ships and US Marines to help in the relief effort in the embattled Haiti.  If that is not a national and international emergency response capability, then what is? We have the sound infrastructure in place for that and for intelligence work; the problem is lack of accountability.

Ms. Flournoy also advocates the expansion of duties of the National Security Council, which General Jones leads. I do not know what that means because this is the body of minds closest to the president, so if they need more involvement in the decision process what does that mean? When General Jones said that Americans would be ‘shocked’ at the intelligence errors involved in the panty bomber case that is cause for great worry. These guys do not know any different. The current NSC is not George Washington’s War council, not by a long shot.

Which brings us to the next problem. As Ms. Flournoy said, it is our fair share to bring the terrorist animals to U.S. soil as a gesture of good faith. But what about the impact of having to host criminal trials The U.S. Attorney General brings to the table a two-pronged dilemma affecting national security and it appears that he is either unaware of the negative consequences. One is the prisoner transfer and the other is trials of these terrorists in America.

The 9/11 trials

This is by far the biggest story affecting both law enforcement and national security and has extensive consequences. The debate over whether the 9/11 terrorists should be afforded civil rights under the U.S. Constitution and tried in civilian criminal court or treated as enemy combatants and tried by a military tribunal. Recently Virginia Representative Jim Moran (no one knows why he thinks he must issue an opinion) wrote for the Washington Post this weekend in favor of conducting one trial of a high-profile terrorist and perhaps more to follow. This is equally and dangerously disturbing.  When the enemy has a better grasp of how to use its oponent’s laws against them we’re in for a long battle.

Loose lips sink ships

The declassification of documents transparency: telegraphing our national security strategies

What happens when transparency means revealing how we do business on the war on terror versus the transparency of the work done by the Congress right now? There is little or no use for declassifying what are called historic documents. I’d call this whole thing a historic mistake that will have greater repercussions in the present and will continue in the future. Not just disclosure of documents but of processes and tactics as we can see in GITMO detainee releases. While AG Holder worries about giving these terrorists due process, they are planning their future return to combat operations. This is a proven fact that these individuals, once released, return to combat to kill more troops. We have every power to hold them but instead we give them privileged treatment. There is a terrible price to transparency when it goes all wrong. Let’s look at the war on terror. 

What happens when transparency means revealing how we do business on the war on terror versus the transparency of the work done by the Congress right now? There is little or no use for declassifying what are called historic documents. I’d call this whole thing a historic mistake that will have greater repercussions in the present and will continue in the future. Not just disclosure of documents but of processes and tactics as we can see in GITMO detainee releases. While AG Holder worries about giving these terrorists due process, they are planning their future return to combat operations. This is a proven fact that these individuals, once released, return to combat to kill more of our troops and even infiltrate our forces as informants and interpreters. They are called recidivists now as one would refer to career criminals and not classified as enemy combatants. We have every power to hold them but instead we give them privileged treatment. There is a terrible price to transparency when it goes all wrong. Let’s look at the war on terror.

In Mexico, as federal troops are being deployed to fight drug cartels in the countryside the decisive strategy has spurred on an even greater wave of violence. This is a gruesome example of what transparency can do if used incorrectly. According to Mexican law, the names of people who are part of Special Forces working drug cases but in this case the president made the choice to disclose the name of a young sailor who died during the raid which killed high-profile drug scumbag Arturo Beltran Leyva. After all, even Mexicans could use a good dose of hero worship given their dire situation. Soon after the young hero’s name was announced, cartel members tracked his family down and killed them; this is the wrong transparency. CIA officers killed in Afghanistan and disclosure of field agents during the 9/11 trials could deal a terrible blow to clandestine operations in support of the war on terror. This is not just new people but also many retired military and CIA have returned to duty to fight in the war; their identities could be revealed as a consequence of the 9/11 trials in NY. It would behoove us to remember that all this does is open the door to a whole new set of vulnerabilities that the U.S. will not be prepared to mitigate. 

 

Part V: Relinquishing our sovereignty

Sources:

Cockup, Conspiracy or Just Plain Confusion? Sorting Out Olberman’s Segment on Flight 253

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/richard-wolffe-says-white-house-sees-flight-253-fallout-as-intelligence-lapse.php?ref=mp

Ex-CIA agent: Threat from Al Qaeda greater now than on 9/11 (VIDEO)

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/01/03/ex-cia-agent-threat-from-al-qaeda-greater-now-than-on-911/  

Don’t worry; it’s only $400-$600 million to try terrorists in NYC

http://biggovernment.com/tag/ksm-trial/

US knew of airline terror plot before Christmas

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/12/29/obama-systemic-failure-allowed-terror-suspect-board-flight/

Chicago O’Hare to install full body scanners

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local-beat/ohare-airport-security-full-body-scanner-80286952.html

CIA rejects charge it failed to share bomb suspect intelligence

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.0b9d18298e2dbb867621b1953baa5023.01&show_article=1

Officials: Somali Tried to Board Flight With Explosives Last Month

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,581459,00.html

Spy chiefs turn on president Obama after seven CIA officers are slaughtered in Afghanistan

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1239941/Spy-chiefs-turn-President-Obama-seven-CIA-agents-slaughtered-Afghanistan.html

Report of 2nd man cuffed from Flight 253 confirmed

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=120803

Are planned airport scanners just a scam?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/are-planned-airport-scanners-just-a-scam-1856175.html

Anti-terror official stayed on ski trip after learning of failed bomb plot

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/07/anti-terror-official-stayed-ski-trip-learning-failed-bomb-plot/

National Security Adviser Says Airline Bomber Report Will ‘Shock’ Americans

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/07/national-security-adviser-airline-bomber-report-shock/

Eric Holder and releasing GITMO enemy combatants

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/01/23/pay-attention-to-eric-holders-law-firm-and-gitmo-detainees/

Detainees Shown CIA Officers’ Photos at GITMO will probably return to combat at some time in the future, once released, and identify these operatives in the field.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/08/20/report-detainees-shown-cia-officers-photos/

Mystery surrounds new Obama order on classification

http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/1209/Mystery_surrounds_new_Obama_order_on_classification.html

Hit men kill Mexican hero’s family

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126149866534701603.html

CIA Officers Are Killed in Afghan Attack

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126219691445210575.html?mod=WSJEUROPE_newsreel_world

Bomber Who Killed CIA Members Reportedly Invited onto Afghan Base

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,581676,00.html

Detroit suspect watched since 2006

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=121976

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