Funny, isn't it, that not so long ago most thought the election would be Guliani vs Clinton.Comment Posted By Andy On 13.02.2008 @ 22:25
Awesome! I'm particularly a fan of Jason Steck who's particularly good at forming cogent arguments without invective.Comment Posted By Andy On 8.01.2008 @ 19:49
Given the CIA's penchant for preserving its secret history (much of which we can read in declassified form today) destroying these tapes seems rather odd.
And many commenters here debating torture are missing the point - we'll never know if it was torture or not since the evidence is gone. That is, I think, the point Rick was making.Comment Posted By Andy On 7.12.2007 @ 12:43
Cheney is obviously out to get you - the delay in posting your comment was obviously politically motivated.Comment Posted By Andy On 6.12.2007 @ 14:07
I'm very familiar with how these procedures work. Without getting into historical minutiae the NCS is now the agency responsible for HUMINT, just as the NSA is for SIGINT and the NGA is for IMINT, etc. Each one of these collection agencies is responsible for vetting its own sources - not just the NCS (which is now a separate agency that reports to the CIA).
And the CIA is not the final gatekeeper and editor. That was true prior to 2004, but is not true anymore.
Finally, your criticisms are long on allegation and short on evidence. It seems to me you base it largely on the fact that you don't like the conclusions and then extrapolate to find flaw in the HUMINT portion where, again, you don't have any evidence.Comment Posted By Andy On 7.12.2007 @ 13:49
The various collection agencies have always been gatekeepers to their own sourcing - this is hardly new. What's different now is that the collection agencies have to tell the rest of the community details about the quality of the source which is a notable improvement. Besides, do you really want the NSA judging the validity of an INR source? Or vice-versa? Of course not.
Furthermore, I don't see how you can have serious problems with the "outlook...construction" etc. of the NIE since you don't (presumably) have access to the raw intelligence, nor the full 150 page classified document. If you do have such access, then perhaps I should contact your SSO....Comment Posted By Andy On 5.12.2007 @ 01:48
Good couple of posts Rick!
With regard to Iran making enrichment a "national sovereignty issue" - that is half the story.
The other half is that Iran believes that once it masters the fuel cycle and creates "events on the ground" that cannot be turned back, then the West and international community will be forced to deal with Iran and accept reality. For example, Hassan Rowhani, who became Iran's nuclear negotiator in 2003, said in 2004:
As for the question of what we can do now that they all disagree with our having the fuel cycle, I submit to you that we require an opportunity, time to be able to act on our capability in this area. That is, if one day we are able to complete the fuel cycle and the world sees that it has no choice, that we do possess the technology, then the situation will be different. The world did not want Pakistan to have an atomic bomb or Brazil to have the fuel cycle, but Pakistan built its bomb and Brazil has its fuel cycle, and the world started to work with them. Our problem is that we have not achieved either one, but we are standing at the threshold. As for building the atomic bomb, we never wanted to move in that direction and we have not yet completely developed our fuel cycle capability. This also happens to be our main problem.
When combined with the administration's sweetheart nuclear deal with India (one that really plunges a dagger into the heart of nonproliferation) and most recently North Korea, Iran's thinking here is probably justified. Here's how Matthew Bunn, an analyst at Harvard's Belfer Center puts it:
...some of my Iranian colleaguesâ€”Iâ€™ve been making an effort to try to understand what is going on in Tehran, although with limited successâ€”have told me that in Tehran the nuclear hardliners are pointing to India and saying basically, look what happened to them, they tested, everybody in the whole world sanctioned them, and then six months later Clinton was crawling back and saying, please be our friend, et cetera. Now, theyâ€™re getting this nuclear deal. The hardliners are using that as an argument that while there may be sanctions now, if we just move forward, eventually the world will roll over and acquiesce to what weâ€™re doing. Thatâ€™s a plausible argument. Thatâ€™s not obvious to me that theyâ€™re wrong given the huge pool of oil and gas that Iran is sitting on.
All of this ties in rather nicely with the recent NIE. At this point I don't believe Iran can be deterred from continuing its work on the fuel cycle - I think that's something we'll likely have to learn to live with.
The key is how to prevent Iran from restarting its weapons program - a difficult task to be sure....Comment Posted By Andy On 4.12.2007 @ 10:07
Good post Rick. Personally, I'm in the camp where Iran is largely rational and I don't subscribe to the idea that as soon as they get nukes they'll be using them on us.
To bomb or not to bomb. There is only one right answer.
Actually, there is only one less-bad answer. There are no right answers here IMO. Again, I'm in the "not to bomb" camp, or at least I don't support bombing at this time since I believe the "cure" of an attack is worse than the "disease" of a nominal Iranian nuclear capability.Comment Posted By Andy On 20.11.2007 @ 16:37
Good post Rick.Comment Posted By Andy On 2.11.2007 @ 10:32
I agree with the key points in your post, though I also agree to an extent with Lisa - I remember specifically last year "reutersgate" and aspersion on the AP and others for biased reporting by some bloggers, but when a report came out about Iran's nuclear program it was used uncritically by some of those same conservative bloggers.
But back to Hunt.
The biggest red flag on this story to me, as someone who worked professionally in the intel community, is the "70%" confidence level. The IC simply does not use such precise numbers for what should be obvious reasons. So I'm inherently skeptical and your points on Hunt providing no evidence for incompetence and his ignorance on the realities of the border with Pakistan are spot on.
The intel community and military uses a couple of different methodologies for judging confidence in information. One you can read about in some detail here (scroll down to the blue area):
Also used is a "low, medium high" confidence levels. A "high" confidence level is generally viewed as being about 90% or greater confidence.
Of course, without knowing the details of what actually went on and what the source of the information was that UBL was in the convoy, then it's impossible to determine for certain if Hunt was blowing smoke or not. Still, my experience, having deployed to Afghanistan twice, is that Hunt is full of it.Comment Posted By Andy On 26.10.2007 @ 11:25