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Intelligence What do we know, need to know, and how do we get there?

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Old 02-19-2015   #41
OUTLAW 09
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
After WWII, when the US still led by example and stood upon the fundamental principles that we ourselves were founded upon, revolutionary people around the world with diverse cultures, such as the Muslim Berbers in Algeria, and the communist rebels led by Ho in Indochina, turned to the US with copies of our universal declaration of independence in hand and cried out, "us too!!"

But we turned our backs on them, and we turned our backs on our principles as well. To exercise a system of control over half the world due to a largely irrational fear of Russia and the decision to lay siege to Russia via containment as a strategy, had made our principles inconvenient - so we watered them down and qualified them with values.

FDR died with a vision of promoting the "four freedoms" (of religion and speech, from fear and want); the end of colonialism; the right to self determination; and a vision of the four emerging powers (US, UK, Russia and China) working together as a new global security partnership to replace the failed league of nations.

But we let our own exaggerated fears drive us to a values based system of directed leadership - and today we still live with the good and bad of that decision.

The neocons are as lost as are the social engineers wishing to conform everyone to our current (certainly not "enduring" or "universal" as arrogantly packaged in the past 2 or 3 National Security Strategies) values.

I for one am not afraid of our founding principles, and believe it is long overdue for the US to assume the risk necessary to be the principled leader by example we believe ourselves to be, and to finally abandon the directive leadership relying upon sloganed "values" that we have actually been employing for the past several decades.
What if question---what if we had accepted Ho's requests for assistance against the recolonialization by France of Indochina after WW2--Ho was a great admirer of George Washington and our Constitution and during late WW2 was willing to work with and support the OSS against the Japanese.

Wonder what our Far Eastern policies would be today?

If we look at the Maidan in the Ukraine--driven by a civil societies desire to ditch the oppressive corruption and oligarchs, who have a sense of a reasonable functioning rule of law and transparent good governance looks , they are now willing as a civil society to support a rag tag army by any means, and they are holding their parliament to transparent standards ---we do what again?---not much support coming out of this WH other thans kind words and an occasional Biden visit.

What is wrong with that concept?---and why is it that when a nation's civil society rises up and demands the two items which by the way we basically also demanded from the British we seem to either ignore them or run from the perceived problems of dealing with that civil society.

Or in the case of say IS- we declare them terrorists and that saves us the problem of even trying to engage with them at all--we do not even have to pretend we "understand" what drives them.

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Old 02-19-2015   #42
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Its debatable if our reaction to the USSR was based on irrational fear, but Kennan did express dissatisfaction with the way Truman pursued the containment strategy. He believed he overreached and used values as a cover to pursue ends that exceeded our means. However, let's not engage in excessive historical revisionism. The USSR and Mao's China didn't represent their people's will, instead they had to kill millions of their own people to maintain control. The far left argument that the U.S. was morally wrong is overstated, but yes we made mistakes.

As for directed leadership, in hindsight we "may" have had a friendly communist government to the self of us in Cuba if we reached out instead of attempting a flawed invasion. The same with Vietnam. Yet, there is another side to that view, in both cases tens of thousands of people fled those countries to avoid oppressive governments.

I'm not as concerned about our missteps during the Cold War, because I believe the hard core communists were evil and didn't represent their people. I'm more concerned with our behavior since the end of the Cold War, where our national leaders (especially Clinton) embraced a liberalist world view and felt compelled to push for democracy and free markets as a one size fits all around the world. Now we push for female and gay rights in all countries. I'm all for speaking out for women's rights, but as Kissinger said it is better to promote evolutionary change than revolutionary change. I can't recall the source, but I recall a UK leader expressing their commitment to their alliance with the U.S., but they do not want to engage in anymore moral crusades.

That is easier said than done, when we in the West see atrocities committed by group of extremists we the citizens often push our governments to take action to stop the abuse. That speaks well of us as a people; however, the push to stop atrocities escalates into attempts to transform cultures at the end of our bayonets disguised as nation building. I hope we retain our moral courage to act against atrocities, but to do so with greater wisdom.
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Old 02-19-2015   #43
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Bill, "tens of thousands of people fled" the US to Canada and other corners of the Empire to escape violence and oppression following our own revolution to throw off British government. Revolutions for self determination are never universal and are probably always very hard on those who are either comfortable with the status quo, or who see opportunity in jumping in bed with some powerful external actor coming in for reasons of their own.

It is not "revisionist history" to look at the same facts with a fresh perspective. It is revisionist history to change facts to fit the story you want to tell. Often the revisionist history is the one you defend, not the one that offends.

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Pulitzer Prize winning historian James McPherson, writing for the American Historical Association, described the importance of revisionism:

The 14,000 members of this Association, however, know that revision is the lifeblood of historical scholarship. History is a continuing dialogue between the present and the past. Interpretations of the past are subject to change in response to new evidence, new questions asked of the evidence, new perspectives gained by the passage of time. There is no single, eternal, and immutable "truth" about past events and their meaning. The unending quest of historians for understanding the past—that is, "revisionism"—is what makes history vital and meaningful. Without revisionism, we might be stuck with the images of Reconstruction after the American Civil War that were conveyed by D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation and Claude Bowers's The Tragic Era. Were the Gilded Age entrepreneurs "Captains of Industry" or "Robber Barons"? Without revisionist historians who have done research in new sources and asked new and nuanced questions, we would remain mired in one or another of these stereotypes. Supreme Court decisions often reflect a "revisionist" interpretation of history as well as of the Constitution.[1]
(lifted from Wikipedia, but original source here: http://www.historians.org/publicatio...ist-historians )
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Old 02-20-2015   #44
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Bill, "tens of thousands of people fled" the US to Canada and other corners of the Empire to escape violence and oppression following our own revolution to throw off British government. Revolutions for self determination are never universal and are probably always very hard on those who are either comfortable with the status quo, or who see opportunity in jumping in bed with some powerful external actor coming in for reasons of their own.

It is not "revisionist history" to look at the same facts with a fresh perspective. It is revisionist history to change facts to fit the story you want to tell. Often the revisionist history is the one you defend, not the one that offends.


(lifted from Wikipedia, but original source here: http://www.historians.org/publicatio...ist-historians )
I don't consider looking at facts from a different perspective revisionist history, nor do I consider the addition of new facts to existing history revisionist history.

I do consider ignoring the facts to support one's narrative as revisionist history, and ignoring the facts about the misdeeds of the communists would be an example. Even the Russians eventually rejected what Stalin stood for, and the Chinese rejected Mao (of course, due to CPC promoted revisionist history being promoted now, Mao's whitewashed image is making a come back).

The history of mankind is quite ugly. I'm not aware of any country's history that isn't stained with substantial sin. Still, if there is going to be hegemon, I suspect most people would prefer a U.S. hegemon compared to a Russian one. Keep cussing us, we're used to it, but while they cuss they still hide behind our coattails.

If we still think IS doesn't intend to harm the West, then I think we're engaging in a form of self-delusion for various reasons. We realize our missteps now during GWOT, but IS is a new breed of threat, and if we think we can mitigate it via standing off we'll be sorely disappointed. Again, the last war may have planted the seeds for the new one, but they are different wars. Ignoring it and hopes it doesn't threaten the West is appeasement. Its frustrating because there are good guys, but some bad guys are worse than others. Like we have throughout history, we'll have to make hard decisions that probably mean we'll work again with unsavory people because their the lesser of two equals. Same as it has ever been.
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Old 02-20-2015   #45
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Both Bill M and Robert while correct take different roads to the same point in the fork.

For me the fork in the road is that right now and for the first time in American foreign policy since 1946 I am as an American not exactly sure this White House and it's NSS really does understand the world around them and or far worse they are misinterpreting what they are seeing.

Example---first Murbarak, then the Arab Spring, then Morsi, then not accepting Sisi then leaving Egypt outside alliance against IS even when Egyptians are beheaded--so again exactly what is the US ME FP? First close ties to the KSA, then distance, then now basically at odds with the KSA and yet KSA is needed to counter and reign in IS---and the list just keeps going on and on and on.

For without a solid defined national strategy on anything ie IS and Russia you will never be able to support "values" "order" and or just about anything else one wants use for words.

This WH and NSS simply do not have a strategy other than riding it out till 1 Jan 2017 and after us the flood.

The Ukraine Humiliation - Putin marches over Merkel, Hollande and Obama.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ukra...ion-1424390758

"high time that U.S. see the Iranian-backed Shiite militias for what they are: a supercharged, multi-headed hydra" https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/19...-amok-in-iraq/

In some aspects the ME has been at war with the US since the PLO, Black September, and PFLP days of the early 70s and actually one could go back to 1966---why does this WH not see that progression and include the IS as just part and parcel of that evolution which is slowing coming to a close for what it is--- civil society evolution nothing more nothing less and then ask the question what has the US been doing and or not doing to assist, guide or detour that "evolution".

What is telling is that when even SWJ carried the IS article what the Is Really Wants this week not much was commented on -why is that.

Why is it possible from two different media outlets with two different political mindsets to come to the same place in time and space complaining basically about the same thing.

No ideas and or strategies for just about anything---that in the 21st century is not good.

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Old 02-20-2015   #46
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No argument that ISIS intends to do us harm. That is their express rhetoric. Death to Israel, Death to the US, etc. Of note, their express actions have been to the contrary, and have been completely focused on the creation of a Sunni Arab state out of Syria and Iraq.

I do not understand why we lose our minds over rhetoric. It has always taken the fusion of Intent, capability, capacity and opportunity for someone, or something to be a threat. So far ISIS has managed to turn a disorganized collection of revolutionary movements into a de facto state. That is impressive, but it is hardly a demonstration of the capability, capacity or opportunity to "do us harm" - at least not in a significant way.

It is not unlike if you one day stopped at a traffic light in your truck, and a small boy rolls up along side on his tricycle and yells at you to roll down your window. You do, and as you look down at this feisty character, he flips you the bird and proceeds to yell at you what a POS he thinks you are and how he is going to kick your Pu#*% A#@ if you had the sack to get out and fight him. Clearly express intent to do you harm. But I doubt you do more than mutter "whatever" and drive on. Currently as a nation we feel compelled to jump out and either engage in public chest bumping and yelling, or to actually rough the kid up. Being threatened is not the same as something being a threat.

ISIS is no longer a powerful insurgency, it is a weak state. Yes, ISIS is absolutely different than AQ in a few very important ways:

1. AQ has been, and remains a true Non-State Actor; and as such, with no infrastructure to hold at risk they are hard to target, other than in superficial ways of killing members; and they are impossible to deter. This is their greatest strength.

2. AQ is not an insurgency (other than in KSA) and they are not a state. They are a political action group that conducts a networked and distributed approach to UW. As such, they have no population and must leverage the populations of others to accomplish anything. But this also means that AQ has no duty or expectation to govern. anyone or anything.

What no one seems to be keying on, is that the "strength" that has separated ISIS from AQ is also their greatest point of vulnerability. ISIS is tied to a specific patch of dirt and a specific population. As such they are targetable and deterable. As such, they have a duty to actually govern. ISIS is vulnerable in ways that AQ has never been. But we don't take advantage of this fact.

ISIS has created a state, and they have made it a rogue state. But the population is not a rogue population, and they want that state very badly. I say recognize the state, and then bring the governance of that state into the rule of law. ISIS will need help to govern internally, and to develop effective relations externally. Quid pro quo.

As you noted, many states born of revolution start of ugly, but overtime back away from the extremes that were necessary to achieve victory. Israel is a great modern example of this, and I suspect our recognition of that terrorist state helped them to transform. Why would we not offer the Sunni Arabs of Syria and Iraq the same opportunity? We need to offer that population a politically viable option if we ever want to achieve stability in that region, and currently there is no politically viable option on the table, other than that which ISIS offers, of course.

Recognize the weak state, deal with the weak state, get on with being the US.
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Old 02-20-2015   #47
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Both Bill M and Robert while correct take different roads to the same point in the fork.

For me the fork in the road is that right now and for the first time in American foreign policy since 1946 I am as an American not exactly sure this White House and it's NSS really does understand the world around them and or far worse they are misinterpreting what they are seeing.

Example---first Murbarak, then the Arab Spring, then Morsi, then not accepting Sisi then leaving Egypt outside alliance against IS even when Egyptians are beheaded--so again exactly what is the US ME FP? First close ties to the KSA, then distance, then now basically at odds with the KSA and yet KSA is needed to counter and reign in IS---and the list just keeps going on and on and on.

For without a solid defined national strategy on anything ie IS and Russia you will never be able to support "values" "order" and or just about anything else one wants use for words.

This WH and NSS simply do not have a strategy other than riding it out till 1 Jan 2017 and after us the flood.

The Ukraine Humiliation - Putin marches over Merkel, Hollande and Obama.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ukra...ion-1424390758

"high time that U.S. see the Iranian-backed Shiite militias for what they are: a supercharged, multi-headed hydra" https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/19...-amok-in-iraq/

In some aspects the ME has been at war with the US since the PLO, Black September, and PFLP days of the early 70s and actually one could go back to 1966---why does this WH not see that progression and include the IS as just part and parcel of that evolution which is slowing coming to a close for what it is--- civil society evolution nothing more nothing less and then ask the question what has the US been doing and or not doing to assist, guide or detour that "evolution".

What is telling is that when even SWJ carried the IS article what the Is Really Wants this week not much was commented on -why is that.

Why is it possible from two different media outlets with two different political mindsets to come to the same place in time and space complaining basically about the same thing.

No ideas and or strategies for just about anything---that in the 21st century is not good.
I have know of this individual for a number of years and while I disagree sometimes about some of this writing this time he makes some interesting points referencing IS and Russia.

Long but worth the read as it combines both problem areas and the rather weak FP of this WH.

http://20committee.com/2015/02/19/wh...est-is-losing/
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Old 02-20-2015   #48
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Part of the overall problem is the disconnect developing between the DoD and the WH/NSC.

When there is this sort of disconnect and no strategy we can argue all day over words---

NATO top military commander Breedlove did not think the truce had ever even begun. "It is a cease-fire in name only," http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-.../26858238.html

.@Martin_Dempsey: Russia "lit a fire of ethnicity & nationalism that actually threatens to burn out of control" http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=128209

Chair @thejointstaff Gen. @Martin_Dempsey: Russia's actions "are threatening our NATO allies" http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=128209 … pic.twitter.com/yl5tZwHaRP
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Old 04-10-2015   #49
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Default Moderator's Note

I have copied a small number of posts to here from the intelligence arena, where former senior British intelligence officers have spoken or written.

This thread should be read in conjunction with a law enforcement thread UK Counter-Terrorism (merged thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7768

There is a wide ranging thread Values and Order: a spook speaks (MI6 / SIS)which includes intelligence matters, but remains a stand alone thread in another arena:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=21756
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Old 07-24-2015   #50
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Default How British (GCHQ) spies really spy

The full title of an article in 'The Register' is: How British spies really spy: Information that didn't come from Snowden:http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07...es_spy/?page=1

The author has assembled an open source jigsaw for this:
Quote:
....the part-time Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, who in his day job is a high-flying human rights lawyer, also used his 373-page report to shed light on how spies use electronic surveillance, based on research that included a three-day visit to GCHQ in Cheltenham. This and other recently published documents provide new insights into how Britain’s electronic eavesdroppers work, and come from official sources rather than documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
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Old 09-17-2015   #51
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Default MI5 Director live Q&A on BBC Radio today

A long serious Q&A today on BBC R4, with the MI5 / Security Service Director Andrew Parker; a first and in places of note. The audio is 22 mins long:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p032qcgm

Hopefully non-UK access is possible, it is radio so should be.

His remarks on the allegations of bulk surveillance -v- targeted surveillance many would disagree with, in part as the existing law is so badly written on purpose for some.

One critic noted:
Quote:
Yes, the Head of Mi5 did say live on Radio 4 that those critiquing the agency's recruitment methods are the very people they need to monitor.
The timing is - well - timely and coincides with the publication of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation's Annual Report, by the increasingly widely repected David Anderson. Was the interview timed to maximise publicity for the, shorthand label "we need more powers", against the more considered and questioning reviewer?

Here is one of his passages on a new counter-extremism bill:
Quote:
These issues matter because they concern the scope of UK discrimination, hate speech and public order laws, the limit that the state may place on some of our most basic freedoms, the proper limits of surveillance, and the acceptability of imposing suppressive measures without the protections of the criminal law. If the wrong decisions are taken, the new law risks provoking a backlash in affected communities, hardening perceptions of an illiberal or Islamophobic approach, alienating those whose integration into British society is already fragile and playing into the hands of those who, by peddling a grievance agenda, seek to drive people further towards extremism and terrorism.
Link:https://terrorismlegislationreviewer...blished-today/

David Anderson was on a later BBC radio programme, for 5 minutes. Link to a BBC written report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34280795 and the audio:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p032r36t

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Old 02-04-2016   #52
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Default 'One of the single most insightful documents leaked since 2013'

A UK GCHQ document led to this response by Professor Thomas Rid, Kings War Studies, on Twitter:
Quote:
One of the single most insightful documents leaked since 2013
It appears that a BoingBoing story is the original source and catalyst:http://boingboing.net/2016/02/02/dox...herlock-3.html I only have a vague memory about this online publication and it is clearly not impartial.

Link to the September 2011 GCHQ document (65 pgs) written by an unknown academic whose Bristol University research "think tank" (HIMR) does work for them:https://www.documentcloud.org/docume...-Redacted.html

A second GCHQ document, March 2010 (3pgs) sets out 'What is the worst that can happen':https://www.documentcloud.org/docume...arch-2010.html

Looking for a short explanation by an outsider? Here it is by a UCL 'security and privacy engineering' academic; his bio:http://www0.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/G.Danezis/

He writes:
Quote:
....the document presents one of the clearest explanations of GCHQ’s operations and their scale at the time; as well as a very interesting list of open problems, along with salient examples. Overall, reading this document very much resembles reading the needs of any other organization with big-data, struggling to process it to get any value.
Link:https://conspicuouschatter.wordpress...-problem-book/
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Old 02-12-2016   #53
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Default 20% of GCHQ intelligence comes from hacking

Quote:
A fifth of GCHQ intelligence comes from hacking in to phones and computers, the agency has revealed, as it won a human rights victory over its once secret technique. The spy agency admitted last year that it regularly hacks in to electronic devices – known as equipment interference – the gather data on suspects.

It was forced to defend the power before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal after a civil liberty group and Internet companies claimed it breached human rights laws.

But the panel, which hears challenges against the security and intelligence agencies, ruled the methods were lawful.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...m-hacking.html

The BBC report is longer:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35558349
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Old 02-19-2016   #54
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Default Freedom and security. Neither can be absolute or guaranteed

Published in Prospect is an article by John Sawers, ex-SIS (MI6), entitled 'Security first, freedom will follow' and subtitled 'New technology helps our enemies as well as us and raises new questions about providing security and preserving freedom'. On a quick read similar to his earlier public statements:http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/fe...ity-technology
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Old 06-08-2016   #55
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Default MI5 & GCHQ collect data: 97% not viewed

A consistent theme in domestic digital collection and surveillance is whether it is needed by the "agencies". Shining a spotlight into this murky area, with an agenda, is this report by The Intercept:https://theintercept.com/2016/06/07/...e-data-deluge/

Here is key section:
Quote:
A top-secret 2009 study found that, in one six-month period, the PRESTON program had intercepted more than 5 million communications. Remarkably, 97 percent of the calls, messages, and data it had collected were found to have been “not viewed” by the authorities. The authors of the study were alarmed because PRESTON was supposedly focused on known suspects, and yet most of the communications it was monitoring appeared to be getting ignored — meaning crucial intelligence could have been missed.
“Only a small proportion of the Preston Traffic is viewed,” they noted. “This is of concern as the collection is all warranted.”

There is a long running thread, which started in 2005, Intelligence, Data, COIN and CT, with 40 posts and 32k views - into which this thread will be merged one day.
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Old 07-06-2016   #56
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Default HUMINT: Yet all he had done was, it seems, watch a Hollywood movie.

Not a good day for the "spooks", especially SIS (aka MI6):
Quote:
The Iraq Inquiry by Sir John Chilcot presents a devastating picture of intelligence that is damning for both spies and the politicians.

It is critical of MI6's collection and presentation of its sources; of the analysis by the wider intelligence community; of the way the Joint Intelligence Committee allowed its material to be used and of the way in which politicians talked about intelligence to the public.
The story of one particular MI6 agent, as told in the inquiry report, reveals much of what went wrong.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36713003
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Old 07-07-2016   #57
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Default Lessons to be learnt (again)

From a short article by an academic and he concludes:
Quote:
Ultimately, Hussein saw Iran as his primary threat and WMDs as his best form of deterrence. As a result, he was willing to risk invasion by Western countries rather than admit he did not possess them.
If one lesson is to be learned from this mistake, it’s the importance of having a “red team” of critical analysts challenging assumptions and offering alternative explanations for opponents’ behaviour. It was Blair’s failing, along with the wider intelligence community, that the intelligence was not questioned and no-one pondered why Iraq might not wish to reveal its weakness in this regard.
Link:https://theconversation.com/chilcot-scolds-britains-intelligence-community-for-its-role-in-the-iraq-war-62078?
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Old 07-11-2016   #58
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Default Learning from an old wound

Hat tip to WoTR for this American author's commentary on intelligence after Chilcot, admittedly with an American application and he ends with:
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There are no U.S. government reports that can compare with the Chilcot report. This truly stands out as a well-written, apolitical, and bluntly honest assessment of government policy, offering a great source of research for defense analysts everywhere. It probably will not change anyone’s mind about the invasion of Iraq, but it should motivate members of the national security enterprise to reconsider how they look at the general threat of adversarial countries and their developing WMD programs in context with regional stability and international relations policy.
Link:http://warontherocks.com/2016/07/chi...-on-wmd-intel/
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Old 07-12-2016   #59
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Interestingly, Hussein's FBI interrogators learned the same details from him. It was a bluff to keep Iran from moving in...
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Old 03-19-2017   #60
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Default An authorised "doughnut" history

Very few noticed this and no, it has nothing to do with the current spat over President Trump's allegations:
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On 3 March 2017, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s signals intelligence agency, announced an authorised history, written by noted signals intelligence historian John Ferris, to be published to tie in with the organisation’s centenary in 1919.
Link to a commentary:http://www.historyandpolicy.org/opin...orised-history

Link to GCHQ's announcement:https://www.gchq.gov.uk/news-article...centenary-2019
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