Monday, December 17, 2007

With Spies Like These... (Washington Post)

Many people believe that the lack of human intelligence resources, among other things, led to the US intelligence community's mistaken belief that Iraq still had WMDs. Since then, there has been a good deal written about and apparently done to increase the US's clandestine capability.

It is this conventional wisdom that is going to make this Washington Post editorial so controversial. The author, Joseph Weisberg, believes that such spies, even if they existed, "wouldn't have made any difference."

Other highlights:

  • "Ever since the inception of the CIA, the operational side of the agency has both believed in and spread the fantasy that foreign agents can provide vital secret intelligence that will clear up great mysteries, change the outcome of wars or prevent terrorist attacks. But this view of intelligence is a myth."
  • "Intelligence from almost all CIA assets is unreliable for the simple reason that so many of them are double agents, meaning that the CIA recruited them but that they are being controlled by their own countries' intelligence services."
  • "This does not mean that there isn't some useful intelligence to be gleaned from various human sources -- just that these sources aren't always going to be recruited agents and that they aren't going to prevent terrorist attacks or change the outcome of wars."
Related posts:

In Praise Of Open Source
Nada Nadim Prouty: Inevitable

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