Comments Posted By andy
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Carter's decline is rather sad. I don't think he was as awful of a President as some say - in many ways he was hindered by OPEC's production decreases and the Iranian hostage crisis - two things that were largely beyond his control (especially after Desert One). He was important in bringing peace to one of Israel's borders through the peace agreement with Egypt. This peace was particularly important to the US since it secured the Suez Canal, which was, and remains, a vitally strategic choke point for America.

There was a time since he left the Presidency that I really respected him. Unlike most other former Presidents, he lived a relatively modest life and put his money where his mouth was in terms of supporting causes he believed in - namely Habitat for Humanity (of which I'm a big supporter).

In the last 8-10 years, however, I think he's really gone off the deep end. I think his comments and criticisms against the Bush administration in particular have been a black mark on his character and broke with the tradition of not harshly criticizing sitting Presidents. He has left all judgment behind and now seems to be a blind supporter of the far-left moonbat wing of American society. It's just sad to see him destroy the credibility he had with center and center-left people.

Comment Posted By Andy On 28.08.2006 @ 12:31



A lot of that "dominate battlespace knowledge" theory that's popular in the military right now I think is more focused on conventional threats. Insurgency, by it's very nature, isn't an inherently military problem and ultimately can't be defeated militarily. However, information dominance theory does have application in situations like Iraq, and is one reason why we are buying predators as fast as they're made. In that regard, we are doing better in Iraq. However, the main problem with information dominance in an insurgency environment is that the most critical information cannot be gained with sensors. It requires people interfacing with the local population which requires language and culture skills we don't have enough of.

So, in the case of, say, China, information dominance is very useful. In Iraq, it still has some utility, but has obvious limitations.

Comment Posted By Andy On 27.08.2006 @ 09:49


Interesting quote which points to a larger truth: In the cold war, our primary military problem was having enough firepower to defeat the large numbers of Soviet personnel and equipment. Finding and fixing targets were not the problem (it's not hard to locate a Soviet tank division), destroying them was. Today, the situation is turned on its head. We have more firepower than we know what to do with, but we're unable to find and fix targets. The military is adjusting to this new reality as quickly as the bureaucracy and Congress will allow by fielding more reconnaissance and developing intelligence to queue those recon and surveillance platforms to look at the right places at the right times. Such transformation is slow, though, because it's not just about equipment, but also training, personnel and especially people's mindsets and preconceptions.

Comment Posted By Andy On 27.08.2006 @ 00:34

Part of this is that we are the lone superpower. But "superpower" doesn't really mean much anymore. We are so dominant militarily that our enemies fight us from the world's civilian population where our advantage is decreased or eliminated. They fight us on the world media where they are actually stronger because of their creativity, flexibility and nimbleness. Our lumbering bureaucracy can't keep up, even if we had the cultural knowledge and insight to compete with our adversary's message.

Similarly, the UN is lumbering tool that is easily manipulated. As the superpower, like it or not, we are seen by the rest of the world and the UN as too powerful for our own good. Like the biggest, toughest guy on the playground, everyone wants to see us fall. Even our allies secretly (and not so secretly) want us brought down a notch. I think playground politics are an apt comparision. We are the big bully to many, the protector to some, but resented by all.

We are also in a declining cycle with the UN and much of the world. The UN/international community does nothing, or does not support us, so we "go it alone," which breeds further resentment. The increased resentment results in less UN support in the future and more obstruction of our policy objectives. This naturally confirms to us the UN/international community is useless and increases the chance we will "go it alone." The cycle repeats. This downward spiral could have serious negative consequences for us, but I don't see any way to avoid it.

Comment Posted By Andy On 27.08.2006 @ 00:19

"Herding cats" comes to mind, and some of those cats have rabies.

Comment Posted By Andy On 26.08.2006 @ 11:31


I would like to add that I pretty much completely disagree with the rest of the NYT article except was is quoted above.

Comment Posted By Andy On 25.08.2006 @ 15:48

Does this sound familiar?

Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

Some policy makers have accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah’s recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday.

From (NYT – registration required):

The Congressional report referenced in the article can be found here:

This is exactly how the ballistic missile fiasco starting in 1995. I never realized Congress and administrations officials knew more about what it takes to build a nuclear weapon than actual nuclear engineers.

Comment Posted By Andy On 25.08.2006 @ 15:45


Joe Wilson is admittedly not a great example, but it’s the only one I can thing of that is unclassified.

And like I said in my previous comment, the administration isn’t tasking individual collection assets – they set the collection priorities, which in turn sets the collection plan, which CM’s then use to task the actual collectors. My point is, in reference to Rick’s original piece, is that such influence skews the final analysis product because it generates biases in the data that are not correct by the policymaker. Here’s what I hope is a better and simpler example to explain this effect:

Let’s say you’re an analyst who monitors a specific country’s military activity. This country doesn’t have a high priority, so few collection and analysis resources are tasked to monitor it. Now let’s say that over the period of a year, a crisis in this country slowly builds. As the crisis comes closer to fruition, the collection priority for this country goes up. As a result, more intelligence data points are collected and the rate of intelligence gathered increases over time. Now, what frequently happens with inexperienced analysts and policy people who attempt to analyze this unfinished intelligence, is that they conclude that the military activity by the target country has increased over the course of that year. They look at the beginning of the data, which, let’s assume, shows this country conducted two patrols of a certain type a day. At the end of the year, the data shows they conducted 6 patrols day. These inexperience people will naturally assume that the target country has increased their patrols as the crisis increased. They may fold this bit of analysis into other crisis analysis and make a judgment that the country has increased its readiness in response to the crisis. But that is not necessarily the case because of the collection biases I’ve been talking about. What frequently happens is that the country was doing 6 patrols a day all along, but because of the limited collection at the beginning of the year, 4 out of the 6 patrols were not observed or were otherwise missed by collectors. Experienced intelligence professionals know to account for this and adjust their analysis accordingly – policy people do not. This is one type of bias that crept into the Iraq WMD “assessments” the policy people in the administration advocated. The collection in Iraqi WMD was increased dramatically. As a result, a lot more data on WMD’s was collected which gave the false impression that the Iraqi programs were not only active and robust, but were expanding. The administration failed to take the collection bias into account as did many analysts, unfortunately. There were many other mistakes made on both the policy and intelligence side, primarily involving confirmation bias.

2) I’d be curious to know who you think is the “lead agency” in the IC? Certainly the whole time I was in the IC, if you told the CIA, who had veto authority over EVERY IC asset, if they wanted to push the issue, that they were NOT the “lead” agency, they’d just laughed in your face. I know many a people who tried to “prove” that the CIA was NOT the “lead agency”, and they lost that battle every time! And I clearly remember a time, when the Director of the CIA was appointed as the lead/unofficial head of the entire IC; if you have evidence to contradict that, I’d like to see it!

A great recent Karen Deyoung WAPO article on the NCTC pretty much explains how things work now, which is great since I hate plowing through the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act (which is what mandates these changes). I’d highly recommend reading the DeYoung article for its own sake. Relevant quotes are below:

Before the Intelligence Reform Act, the CIA was in charge of bringing together "all-source" intelligence and analyzing it for the larger intelligence community, the White House and policymakers. It was the CIA that chaired the daily interagency meeting at 5 p.m. to discuss real-time terrorism information and what to do about it. The agency drew up the daily "threat matrix" and the CIA director briefed the president each morning.

But the Sept. 11 commission found that long-standing tensions within and among the CIA, the FBI and the rest of the community, along with institutional firewalls constructed during the Cold War, meant that "information was not shared" and "analysis was not pooled" that might have warned of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

The CIA's responsibilities for integrating and analyzing all-source intelligence have now been transferred to the DNI and the NCTC. All members of the intelligence community -- including the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and other Defense Department agencies and the FBI -- are restricted to analyzing only what they need to accomplish the "tactical missions" specific to their own assignments. For the CIA, that means concentrating on building the clandestine network and human resources that Congress and a series of outside studies have found lacking, especially in the Middle East.

But things change slowly in bureaucratic Washington:

But the DNI-NCTC structure remains vastly outweighed in power, personnel and tradition by the growing bureaucracies it hopes to tame. While the number of NCTC analysts is scheduled to double to 400 by 2008, the FBI alone has tripled its analytic staff since 2001 to more than 2,700. The DIA has nearly 8,000 employees collecting and analyzing intelligence, and the CIA has twice that many.

There’s more there, here’s the whole article:

And as a point of contention, before 2004, the CIA certainly did not have “veto authority over every IC asset.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The CIA’s responsibilities as the “head” of the IC were more administrative than operational. A book I highly recommend is “The US Intelligence Community” by Richelson. It’s the definitive book on the IC. The latest edition is 7 years old, so hopefully he’s working on a new edition to reflect the changes since 9/11. In any event, here are some relevant quotes:

The responsibilities of the DCI, as stated in Executive Order 12333, and the National Security Act of 1947, have not been matched by the power to fulfill these responsibilities. As DCI Richard Helms noted in 1969, although the DCI was theoretically responsible for 100 percent of U.S. intelligence activities, he controlled less than 15 percent of the intelligence community’s assets, whereas almost 85 percent were controlled by the Secretary of Defense and the JCS….Despite DCI Stansfield Turner’s (Carter’s DCI) wishes, management control of the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency remained with the Secretary of Defense.

Through the 80’s and 90’s, the CIA’s share and control of the intelligence budget continued to decrease. The Clinton administration attempted in 1996 to give the DCI more control over budget execution, but it failed. So no, the CIA does not, and never did “control” the intelligence community.

And I clearly remember a time, when the Director of the CIA was appointed as the lead/unofficial head of the entire IC

So, you were around when the DCI was created in 1947?

) I didn’t “ignore” the 1995 Ballistic Missile NIE you discussed; I just didn’t see how it was relevant to what I was talking about originally, nor did I care, frankly. And, I don’t mean that in the arrogant way it undoubtedly sounds in black and white, I just didn’t see it was relevant to any point I was trying to make; it may have been relevant to yours, but not mine.

I brought that up not to directly answer anything you said, but as a clarification of Rick’s post and the comments in general. It was intended to show a concrete example of policy people meddling in, influencing, and changing intelligence. The same kind of meddling by many of the same people took place before the Iraq war.

6) Your whole Cropduster/AQ vs. IRA/car bomb analogy, I reject completely out of hand.

I was, THE LEADING Islamic Fundalmentalist Analyst in the IC for a period of time. Let me state that unequivocally! To this day, I’m still sought for my expertise, and my knowledge on that subject, by dozens of people on the inside.

For a leading analyst, I’m surprised at your apparent ignorance of the CIA’s role in the IC as well as basic analysis principles. In any event, if you have something linking AQ and Iraq in crop-dusting efforts, then by all means provide a link to that evidence. If this is something you learned about in your position as an analyst, then you have probably violated the NDA you signed when you left the community.

The professional, knowledgeable, experience Military guys I worked with, NEVER pushed a Political Agenda; they wanted to take care of their people/troops, get their job done, and get home!

You mention the people you knew/know, as PhD’s, etc., to prove your point; in fact, that proves MY point; memebers of Academia; primarily liberal; anti-Bush; pushing an Agenda! It’s that simple, and that sad; knew dozens of them in the CIA, and State Department; all “experts”; and when you scratched the veneer, all pushing a Political Agenda.

First off, I never said the military people pushed a political agenda or didn’t want to take care of their troops. What I said is that they didn’t have the training, education or equipment to do forensic-level analysis of WMD. Their role is WMD defense and their training and equipment reflect that role. The military does not have deployable task-oriented units with the capability to do the kind of analysis we’re talking about here, which requires an advanced laboratory environment. The military experts (like the scientists I know) work in labs and agencies in the US as WMD experts, not with CBRNE units.

Finally, members of the ISG were not liberal college academics as you describe. Just because they have a doctorate does not mean they teach at Berkely and do sit-ins. Many serve in uniform either on active duty or the reserve, and many more work as DoD or government civilians who work on WMD every day. So your characterization there is way off.

Comment Posted By Andy On 25.08.2006 @ 15:18

Again, sorry about the double posts - I added a couple of things to the first that, when I thought it didn't go through, I didn't bother retyping for the second.

I'll be back in a while with some counterpoint and further comments.

Comment Posted By Andy On 25.08.2006 @ 10:17

Oops, sorry about the double post.

Comment Posted By Andy On 25.08.2006 @ 07:26

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