American intelligence organizations routinely fail to accurately predict world events as well as attacks against U.S. interests because they are too large, bureaucratic and clumsy, analysts and experts told WorldNetDaily.
Indeed, says one former CIA analyst, the top echelon of the nation’s premier intelligence organization is a “vicious Machiavellian bureaucracy” that deals more in “sophisticated bureaucratic warfare” than serious intelligence collection and examination.
Charging that the CIA’s “numerous” problems are so bad that “God Almighty can’t fix them,” the former analyst also said he believes some intelligence divisions within the agency are so big there is no way they can “piece the threads of terrorism into any sort of tapestry quickly and accurately.”
“Our government is terminal,” the former analyst said.
His observations come amid a sea of criticism that the CIA, along with other U.S. intelligence agencies, are too unresponsive and poorly structured to have been able to respond quickly and accurately to threats, especially those on the level of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Such criticisms expanded earlier this month to include the White House after the Bush administration admitted it had been briefed in early August about hijacking threats to U.S. airliners, though officials say the intelligence could not be considered a warning or “actionable” information.
Nevertheless, the former CIA analyst said he believes the failure of the agency to predict Sept. 11 is the result of major problems involving bureaucracy, role protection, and distrust that “go back decades.”
For one, he said, intelligence reports are often substandard because redundant “levels of editorial review watered them down so much as to be useless.” That process makes it impossible for appropriate government officials to make intelligent decisions, he said.
And, he added, many of the CIA’s assets are inappropriate for important types of terrorist work. For instance, he said, the agency “tends to recruit graduates of Ivy League schools and not thugs from back alleys, when the latter are sorely needed sometimes.”
Too much bureaucracy?
Other experts believe the slow pace of bureaucracy tends to clog the wheels of intelligence progress.
“The CIA, by its very nature, is bureaucracy,” Steven Aftergood, a senior intelligence research analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, told WorldNetDaily. “And when you are a bureaucracy, you get a whole set of bureaucratic pathologies.
“You start developing a certain mindset that makes it harder to perceive new, unexpected data, and you inadvertently encourage conformity among staffers, making it more difficult” to think outside the box to solve problems, Aftergood said.
Other analyses support his view.
In a March 4 “Proliferation Brief,” the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said, “The major reason why the United States was so unprepared for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 is that national threat assessments produced over the past few years have consistently pointed policymakers in the wrong direction.”
“Partisan political agendas distorted these assessments and fundamentally misled and misdirected national security resources,” said the brief, quoting Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project.
In his book, “The CIA’s Greatest Hits,” author Mark Zapezauer writes: “The CIA is … expert at distorting intelligence to justify its own goals, and this ‘disinformation’ leads to dangerous illusions among our policymakers.”
And ex-CIA agent and author Philip Agee, in a separate book called “CIA Diary,” wrote that “what the agency … does is ordered by the president and the NSC (National Security Council). The agency neither makes decisions on policy nor acts on its own account. It is an instrument of the president.”
The former analyst confirmed that the agency acts at the behest of the administration.
“Every intelligence publication [is] made with an eye to the president and not the nation’s needs,” he told WND. “Palace sycophancy was endemic. The CIA will never tell the president what he doesn’t want to hear.”
The CIA refused to comment on all allegations.
Robert Morton, the editor of The Washington Times National Weekly Edition and president of East West Services, Inc., which publishes WorldTribune.com, the weekly intelligence digest Geostrategy-Direct.com and WorldTechTribune.com, says he believes U.S. intelligence agencies are too bureaucratic and top-heavy.
But he says private intelligence firms don’t necessarily have better performance records than government agencies, because the private firms “don’t have the access.”
“Their analysis based on open-source intel can be better if they filter the politics out of their estimates,” he told WorldNetDaily. “But analysis has become the easy way out for all intelligence operations, public and private. There can be no substitute for hard information from human sources on the ground.”
What may help to fix CIA’s problems, the former analyst told WND, is “a good critical look by an independent ‘red team’” – an outside-the-agency critique.
A totally independent review would “reveal that the intelligence community is encumbered by ossified and entrenched bureaucracies, which inhibit its ability to confront current and emerging threats,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in comments published last month.
“But we’ll probably never see that because Congress is so feckless,” the former analyst said.
Aftergood agreed, saying that Congress itself was likely unable to conduct such an independent review of the intelligence failure that led to Sept. 11 because it shared “at least some complicity in the structure and performance of the intelligence agencies.”
Lawmakers fund intelligence agencies, “and they are the ones who establish policy directions and priorities,” he said. So “they are not disinterested parties.”
Morton said he believes eliminating analysts would help intelligence agencies perform better, as would implementation of “‘Team Bs’ using retired and/or private-sector experts to offset powerful bureaucratic consensuses within and among agencies.”
Losing the ‘feel’
The former CIA analyst indicated that at times, an analyst’s opinion could be tainted. He said they are frequently rotated to unrelated jobs, which causes them to “lose their ‘feel’ for data analysis.”
That “feel,” he said, “is vital when analyzing reports because it helps analysts weed out the bogus and incorrect data.”
“CIA generally lacks ‘feel’ for the rest of the world,” said the former analyst.
Aftergood said that problem could be remedied if CIA “found a way to harness the enormous intelligence-related resources” that exist outside of government.
“Private firms, universities and private individuals” could all contribute their “wealth and expertise” to the CIA and other intelligence agencies to help collect, collate and decipher data.
More cooperation needed
Aftergood also said a lack of cooperation with congressional committees and other policymakers is one of the CIA’s problems.
Some of the “official secrecy that surrounds the intelligence community is legitimate and necessary when it comes to protecting intelligence sources and methods,” he said. “If they were exposed, they’d be compromised and rendered useless.”
But, he said, the CIA and other agencies “extend that legitimate secrecy into a wide range of areas where it is unnecessary and counterproductive.”
Last week, CIA officials denied charges made by Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that the agency wasn’t being cooperative in the committee’s investigation of events that led to the 9-11 attacks.
“We thought we had from those highest levels the kind of assurances we would get cooperation,” Graham said.
CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said the agency’s cooperation in the probe has been “extensive, extraordinary and unprecedented.”
“We’ve given them briefings. We’ve given them information we have assembled, which, without our efforts, they would be unable to find,” Harlow said. “We’ve housed members of their staff in our headquarters. We’ve done all these things while we’re fighting a war.”
Aftergood said more congressional oversight would be helpful, but “that depends on good faith on both sides – the intelligence community and Congress.”
The former analyst, however, said he believes the agency is doomed to continued failure until it is run “by a person who is independent, competent, experienced, worldly and wise, and not inclined to kiss the president’s a–.”
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