Analysis: Should the CIA kill less and spy more?

CIA headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Central Intelligence Agency’s awkward silence about the recent resignation of its Director, General David Petraeus, is indicative of an organization that remains distinctly uncomfortable with publicity. The added layer of the sexual nature of Petraeus’ impropriety has increased exponentially the degree of unease at Langley. Yet sooner or later the news media will move on to something else and General Petraeus will fade into the distance. For seasoned intelligence observers, however, the question of the CIA’s future will remain firmly in the foreground. In an interview earlier this week with Wired magazine, former CIA Director General Michael Hayden (ret.) opined that Petraeus’ resignation presents the Agency with the opportunity to return to its operational roots. Hayden, who led the CIA from 2006 to 2009, said that the Agency has been “laser-focused on terrorism” for many years. Consequently, much of its operational output “looks more like targeting than it does classical intelligence”, he said. His views were echoed by the CIA’s former Acting Director, John McLaughlin, who told Wired that the most significant challenge for the post-Petraeus CIA “may be the sheer volume of problems that require [good old-fashioned] intelligence input”. Yesterday, meanwhile, saw the publication of two opinion pieces by two of America’s most experienced intelligence watchers. In the first one, The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus urges United States President Barack Obama to pause and think about the role of America’s foremost external intelligence organization before appointing a successor to General Petraeus. For over a decade, argues Pincus, the CIA’s focus has been to fulfill covert-action tasks in the context of Washington’s so-called “war on terrorism”. But through this process, the Agency “has become too much of a paramilitary organization” and has neglected its primary institutional role, which is to be “the premier producer and analyst of intelligence for policymakers, using both open and clandestine sources”. Read more of this post

Exclusive: intelNews readers get 20% off espionage conference online video pass

Bruce Riedel

Bruce Riedel

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
It is not every day that $19.95 can get you direct video access to a five-day intelligence and espionage conference. Plus, intelNews has worked out a deal with conference organizers for a further 20% discount off the final price of the event. The conference, which will take place in New York from July 18-22, is entitled Spies, Technology and Espionage. It is an ambitious collaboration between the New York-based Chautauqua Institution, the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and online conference channel Fora TV, which will broadcast the five-day event in its entirety. It features lectures by big-name speakers, including Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius, CIA veteran officers Peter Earnest and Bruce Riedel, former CIA Director James Wolsey, as well as former MI5 Director Dame Stella Rimington. The timing of the conference has been carefully arranged to coincide with the run-up to the 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 events, which eventually sparked Washington’s so-called “war on terrorism”. The principal question leading the conference is what has America’s intelligence community learned in these ten years? Speakers will address several core themes, including the ways in which basic principles and practices of the intelligence profession have evolved in these 10 years. Another prominent theme for discussion will be the interface between intelligence operations and democratic accountability, and the resulting conflicts between espionage, covert operations, and America’s justice system. To learn more about the five-day conference, and to get your $19.95 video pass, which gets you a 60-day access, click here. IntelNews readers can get 20% off by entering ‘INTELNEWS’ (without the quotations) at the special coupon code field during checkout.

News you may have missed #349

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News you may have missed #0220

  • More on sudden death of Jordan’s ex-spy chief. The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius is one of a handful of US columnists who are paying attention to the sudden death in Vienna, Austria, of Saad Kheir, 56, former director of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department.
  • Deposed Thai leader back in Cambodia, as accused spy is pardoned. Cambodian authorities have decided to free Siwarak Chothipong, whom they accused last month of spying on the flight itinerary of visiting former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Meanwhile, Thaksin is back in Cambodia, a sign that the country will continue to back pro-Thaksin political forces in Thailand.

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Pakistani spies “visibly angry” at US charge of Taliban links

A.S. Pasha

A.S. Pasha

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Recently, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s secretive spy service, gave Washington Post’s associate editor, David Ignatius, a rare look inside its Islamabad headquarters. However, the first known visit to the ISI by a Western journalist in recent years failed to impress the Pakistanis. The latter became “visibly angry” when Ignatius asked them whether they are withholding information about al-Qaeda and the Taliban, as the CIA and other US intelligence agencies claim. The charges, which are disputed by Pakistani officials, led to “a long and animated conversation” with ISI Director, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who forbade the US journalist from quoting him directly. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0041

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