Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama Faces Gaping Holes in U.S. Intelligence

Jeff Stein writes on SpyTalk:

Word hasn't leaked yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if President-elect Barack Obama has already figured out that when he wants quick answers to what's going on in the world, the last person to ask is the head of U.S. intelligence.

The steady deterioration of personnel and standards of intelligence analysis, especially at the CIA, has been going on for decades, a number of former top intelligence officials I know say.

The tip of the rot surfaces from time to time, such as with the 9/11 surprise and the gimcrackery reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The dogs howl and the caravan moves on. Nothing changes, many well placed former intelligence officials have been telling me. But the current, possibly fatal dangers we face demand the problems be fixed.

We've been spending too much time chattering about the operations side of intelligence lately, they say, in particular whether Leon Panetta, the former OMB head and chief of staff to President Clinton, is up to handling the spies and back-alley guys and gals.

But officials have been reminding me that it was the dismally poor analysis of intelligence that enabled President Bush to lead the nation into the disastrous invasion of Iraq -- not faulty espionage (such as it was).

More here.


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