CIA declassifies internal review on Iraq ‘intelligence failure’

Report cover pageBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
An internal report on the alleged failure of the Central Intelligence Agency to accurately read the intentions of the Iraqi regime in the run-up to the 2003 invasion by the United States, has been declassified. The report, entitled Misreading Intentions: Iraq’s Reaction to Inspections Created Picture of Deception, was authored in 2006, classified ‘secret’. It was prepared by the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI), the part of the Agency that is responsible for collating and assessing gathered intelligence in order to assist the decisions of US policy-makers on key foreign issues. The report describes what it sees as the DI’s intelligence failure to assess the true state of Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction program in the run-up to the US invasion. It says that invalid predispositions and “analytic liabilities” among CIA analysts prevented the Agency from seeing the issue of weapons of mass destruction from the viewpoint of the Iraqi government. Although heavily redacted, the report seems to state that CIA analysts spent little time examining the view, held by many at the time, that the Iraqi regime had in fact terminated its WMD program by 1995. Furthermore, Agency analysts failed to realize in time that, although it had terminated its WMD program, the Iraqi regime maintained a deliberate policy of ambivalence about the purported existence of the program, in order to save face, deter potential adversaries and appear more dangerous than it actually was. Such a policy of deception was well within the character of the Iraqi regime and should have been detected by American intelligence experts, says the report. Read more of this post

Analysis: An Economic Security Role for European Spy Agencies?

Economic espionage

Economic spying

Last February, Spain’s intelligence service began investigating alleged suspicious efforts by foreign financial speculators to destabilize the Spanish economy. According to newspaper El País, the Spanish government asked the country’s Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) to probe links between speculative moves in world financial markets and a series of damaging editorials “in the Anglo-Saxon media”. There are indications that the National Intelligence Service of Greece (EYP) is following in the CNI’s footsteps. In February, when Athens and Brussels began to realize the magnitude of the financial crisis threatening the European common currency, several news outlets suggested that the EYP was cooperating with Spanish, Irish and Portuguese intelligence services in investigating a series of coordinated speculative attacks on money markets, most of which allegedly originated from London and Washington. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0119

  • CIA opens center on climate change. The CIA Center on Climate Change and National Security is a small unit led by senior specialists from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology. It focuses on “the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources”. Methinks the emphasis will probably be on the latter.
  • Brazilian political figures spied on after dictatorship. Senior Brazilian politicians, religious leaders and activists were spied on illegally for 16 years after the 1964-1985 military regime, according to recent allegations in the country’s press. Major surveillance targets included Brazil’s current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, opposition leader and Sao Paulo Governor Jose Serra, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, and others.
  • New book examines life of Franco-sympathizer British spy. Jimmy Burns has written a biography of his father, Tom Burns, an anti-communist sympathizer of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who organized the British intelligence network in Spain during and after World War II.

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DNI responses to Senate questions declassified

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

Don’t bother reading through the 40 pages (.pdf) of responses given last February by the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to questions by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. There’s not that much new information in it, and it turns out DNI Dennis C. Blair even resorted to plagiarizing part of an article on an alleged Russian attack on US satellites originally printed in Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, with no attribution. Instead, you can save time by taking a look at the observations made on the 40-page document by Steven Aftergood, editor of the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News bulletin. It was, in fact, a Freedom of Information Act request by Aftergood that prompted the release of the document in the first place. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0015

  • Recession woes prompt rise in CIA applications. CIA recruiters point to the deep economic recession currently experienced in the US to explain the record numbers of applications for the Agency’s relatively few job openings this year. CIA recruiters say they have so far received “90,000 resumes and  […] will probably get close to 180,000 resumes” by the end of the year. The Agency employs around 20,000 people. The final number of job applications received in 2009 could be the largest number of job applications the Agency has ever received.
  • Ex-CIA analyst says only a new strike on US soil can help increase US security. Michael Scheuer, former chief of the Osama bin Laden unit at the CIA said during an interview with Fox News that “the only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States”.

CIA now actively hiring failed investment bankers

It’s been several months now since Dennis Blair announced that “the primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications”. Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence even hired James Rickards, a self-described “threat finance” expert, to advise him on “[c]ountries [that] might […] be tempted to engage in financial warfare” against the United States. It now appears that the rapid rise of microeconomic concerns to the top of the US intelligence community’s threat list has also affected the CIA. The Agency has announced a new recruitment program targeting fired investment bankers to work in its Directorate of Intelligence. Speaking on National Public Radio’s Marketplace, CIA official Jimmy Gurule said the new recruitment drive is part of creating “a national strategy […] to deal with these types of financial issues”. Unfortunately, Marketplace’s piece is extremely superficial. A more in-depth analysis of what “these types of financial issues” may mean, is available here.

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