Secret report warns US spy mission distorted by ‘war on terror’

CIA headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
America’s concentration on the ‘war on terrorism’ has distorted the mission and scope of its Intelligence Community, according to a secret report commissioned by the White House. The classified report was compiled by the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, which counsels Barack Obama on intelligence matters. It cautions the President that the intelligence output of organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency has been disabled by tunnel vision and operational fatigue in the pursuit of al-Qaeda. The study also states that the overwhelming focus on Islamic militancy has distracted US intelligence from focusing on state actors such as China, and has hampered the success American intelligence operations outside Muslim regions of the world. The Washington Post, which disclosed the existence of the report on Thursday, said the team of 14 advisers that produced the report was led by “influential figures” on Capitol Hill, such as Chuck Hagel, Obama’s new Secretary of Defense. The paper added that, based on comments made by senior Obama Administration officials in recent months, it appears that the classified study, which was authored last year, has been adopted by the Obama White House as a major policy directive. The Post suggested that the report prompted comments earlier this year by John O. Brennan, the CIA’s new Director, that he planned to reevaluate the Agency’s “allocation of mission” as a matter of priority. However, countering the operational fatigue caused by the nearly 15-year long ‘war on terrorism’ will take time, and it remains unclear whether agencies like the CIA can ever shed the paramilitary role they acquired under the Administration of US President George W. Bush. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0235

  • How the CIA was conned by a compulsive gambler. In 2003, the CIA took seriously the fabricated claims of Dennis Montgomery, co-owner of a software gaming company in Nevada, who claimed he could read messages hidden in barcodes listing international flights to the US, their positions and airports to be targeted by al-Qaeda.
  • Obama names intel advisory board members. The US President has appointed members to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB), a critical oversight group tasked with alerting the White House about US intelligence activities that may be illegal or may go beyond Presidential authorization. The appointees are Roel Campos, Lee Hamilton, Rita Hauser, Paul Kaminski, Ellen Laipson, Les Lyles, and Jami Miscik. For more on PIAB, see here.
  • Turkey arrests three on espionage charges. Turkish media won’t say which country the arrestees allegedly spied for, but one of them is said to have “often visited Greece”. A tit-for-tat?

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