Friday, July 16, 2004

George Herbert Walker Bush made serious bones as the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). He was known as the man who "cleaned up" the CIA - an important step in his ascention to a Vice Presidency.
Today, after years of deep cuts to intelligence and military spending -  following the "Russians are our friends" culture, which escaped from foggy bottom and permeated the military upper echelons - we find ourselves with a lot of neat intel gathering toys. We also find ourselves slaves to technology, which misses a crucial element in intelligence gathering - a human mind.
The intelligence failures of the past 12 years, which allowed us to be attacked again and again, are not because of a lack of intelligence activity. The failures are due to a reliance on intelligence gathering methodology, which does not actively interpret and analyze. We do not have a lack of gathered intelligence. We have a lack of meaningful intelligence. The US and, to a lesser extent, the UK intelligence services have data queued for hours upon hours, waiting to be analyzed. Eighty percent of that data is garbage, or is old enough by the time it is analyzed, as to be rendered useless. Intelligence is highly perishable.
The drift, over several years, away from what was thought to be costly human intelligence (HUMINT) has produced a giant hole in our ability surmise the intentions of our enemies. Our human intelligence in certain areas of the world, particularly the Middle East, is derived from unreliable sources or from the Mossad. The Israeli intelligence gathering capability, in terms of HUMINT, is probably the best in the world - despite US and UK arguments to the contrary. The problem is much of the HUMINT we receive from Israel is going to be sanitized, hence often watered down, by the time we get it. The Israelis don't want us to know their sources, much as we would act in the same circumstances.
The bottom line is the United States really needs to spend a great deal of effort on HUMINT. It's nice to have high-tech toys - they certainly tools in the toolbox - but the high-tech culture needs to be broken in the CIA. We need a renaissance in the CIA - a critical thinking DCI who can get back to basics - an intelli-gent.

God Bless America.


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