Thursday, November 16, 2006

BARBARIANS AT THE GATES.

Spencer Ackerman

BARBARIANS AT THE GATES. If Walter Pincus is correct that Defense Secretary-designee Bob Gates will scale back Donald Rumsfeld's expansion of the Pentagon's role in intelligence, we should let out a resounding cheer. Rumsfeld pushed the Pentagon way, way out into the blue yonder of intelligence work -- both with the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, designed to obstruct CIA analysis on Iraq and al-Qaeda, and in the field of human intelligence collection.

The PCEG's failures speak for themselves. The HUMINT stuff is more obscure and wonky, but it has real consequences. DOD intelligence is about tactical matters, not strategic ones -- for instance, learning what bridge to blow up in the field, rather than running spies or informants for years. But the Defense Intelligence Agency has been pushing its resources into duplicating what the CIA already does, and has done for half a century. And consider that if DIA, say, turns a colonel in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the CIA is already looking to recruit from that same pool -- and so CIA's asset inside the Iranian military might unknowingly get fed information from DIA's asset. Experience teaches us that no one will tell anyone who doesn't absolutely need to know who their inside agents are, so this is exactly the sort of duplicative effort that produces unforced intelligence errors. Thanks, Don!

So hopefully Pincus is right. On the other hand, Gates has always been a CIA man, and his opposition to DOD expansions into intelligence might be a vestige of the Pentagon always goring his ox. Will he change his attitude now that he's going to be in a position to do the goring? Let's hope that he gets asked that question during his confirmation hearing.

hear hear. steve aftergood & CRS are trying to get new demarcation lines established.

3 comments:

steven andresen said...

You've quoted this,

"...Rumsfeld pushed the Pentagon way, way out into the blue yonder of intelligence work..."

I think the basis for our late and long departed Senator from Oregon W. Morse, vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Res. and opposition to the Vietnam war was his feeling that the Senate, as well as the House, had an obligation to understand as much about foreign affairs as the executive branch, and the President. He thought an informed Senate would be better able to oversee the shenanigans of our wayward Presidents. He thought that self gained knowledge would have made these foreign expeditions less likely.

I would recommend the Democrats hold hearings and investigate as much as they can on issues that are bound to come up. So, let's talk about oil....Or, the plight of foreign workers in China and India...

lukery said...

the Senate, as well as the House, had an obligation to understand as much about foreign affairs as the executive branch, and the President.
jeebus. talk about bigotry/low expectations...

i don't know Morse - he sounds like a helluva guy.

as for chinese workers... ummmm. i'm not gonna hold my breath.

LeeB said...

Morse was definitely one of the good guys.

"Morse's career is detailed in the documentary film The Last Angry Man: The Story of America's Most Controversial Senator, by Christopher Houser and Robert Millis."

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