Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quests for Facts & Fiction – US Investigations

The USA spends billions of dollars on intelligence collection, dissemination and analysis. Yet it is blinded, claiming of no warning, in incidents such as 9/11 and most recently, the murders at Ft. Hood. To make it even more scandalous, there are a multitude of intelligence committees or task forces spread through nearly every agency of the US government. Why do they fail the American people when it really counts?

In a sick bureaucratic ploy, each disaster is met with investigations, and a new intelligence task force or another layer of supervision is created as a palliative. Remember, for example, when the Home Land Security cabinet post and agency was concocted for defense against future national security terrorist disasters. Net effect of this redundancy is to destroy and complicate serious cooperation. If anything, it creates competition as each organization tries to defend its existence. The counter intelligence community's tragic failure to disseminate information on the Jihad army major at Ft. Hood bears witness to this stunning incapacity.

Who was fired over 9/11 or the intelligence debacles involving the run-up to the Iraq war? On the contrary, GW Bush gave General Tommy Franks and CIA Director George Tenet medals. Failure and incompetence was rewarded. Or did the two sell out over duty or loyalty. In any case GW Bush succeeded in his cover-up as the band played on as a prelude for more on coming disasters.

At this writing the old game is being replayed in the danse macabre investigations of the Ft. Hood slaughter. There are separate investigations, by Department of Defense, US Army, national US intelligence organizations and grand-standing fruitcakes in congress. Unlike the 9/11 commission, there does not seem to be a central coordination commission.

Nearly every organization bears culpability so do not be surprised if some other organization suddenly bears the guilt or more likely, collective guilt is the finding and no one person is responsible for dereliction of duty. No one will be fired or relieved of command or asked to resign; the band will play on.

My experience is that the failure in intelligence seldom is attributable the the national technical means of collection or from human intelligence resources. The system always falls apart between analysis and the policy maker. In most cases the analysis, though hedged, is correct. The policy maker is a political animal and this most certainly includes generals, so doing what is right gives way to short term political expediency. And in many cases this blows up in their faces as it did at Ft. Hood. Intelligence becomes the scape goat.

There is also the obsession of Team Player that makes many fear dissent from group-think of the herd. I have witnessed general offices fold nervously over dissent. Had one declare to me when asked to approve a footnote on a national estimate: I AM NOT THE CONSCIENCE OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY.

The biggest sweat by the Administration appears to center on whether the alleged Ft. Hood killer was a terrorist or not, and the murders have repercussions on the US Islamic community. The man was a terrorist and Obama will have the act recorded on his watch. No bobbing and weaving can avoid it. The Muslim community bears some responsibility for nurturing Hasan without raising red flags.

The army, apart from intelligence, let the killer fester and explode under its nose with plenty of warning. The intelligence community had over 13 e-mail intercepts even with offers by the killer to contribute money to Arab radical causes. Yet, it stood by and it did nothing to put Major Hasan out business. Where was Home Land Security on the incident? Who knows?

Usually when a policy maker receives a hot piece of surprising intelligence, he ignores it, because he does not have solution. In the Hasan case the solution was easy: arrest him. Our trusted Intelligence leadership made a mistake and it should removed from authority; that is, if the investigators have the fortitude to perceive a responsible authority. Colonel Robert E Bartos US Ret.


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