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

CIA headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
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


Obama reestablishes critical intelligence oversight board (finally!)

Exec. Order 13516

Exec. Order 13516

On June 19, I alerted intelNews readers to the fact that US President Barack Obama had yet to appoint any members to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB). First established in 1956 by President Eisenhower, the PIAB, is a critical oversight group tasked with alerting the White House about US intelligence activities that may be illegal or may in any way go beyond Presidential authorization. Now, after months of inexcusable delays, not only has US President Barack Obama restored PIAB, but has also restored its original oversight role, which had been curtailed by the Bush administration since 2008. Specifically, on October 28, the President appointed former Senators David Boren and Chuck Hagel as co-chairs of PIAB, a move that effectively ended the Board’s hiatus. Read more of this post