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

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Old 10-29-2008   #41
jmm99
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Default Berntsen's MEI address

Berntsen (3 x chief of station, OC CIA paramilitary at TB) speaks from a different perspective than IJ. His emphasis is on the DO - which, in his opinion, is the only thing "that distinguishes the agency from the Dept of Agriculture" (sure to raise some hackles among the analytic community) - and collection of HUMINT. Like IJ, he addresses the bureaucrats who impede collection efforts; but does not throw out the baby with the dirty bath water.

Besides the espionage branch of the agency's clandestine activities, Berntsen is very familar with its paramilitary branch. There he has a couple of proposals, which could cut away paramilitary covert actions from the agency:

1. Devlopment of an "American Foreign Legion", similar to the Brits' Gurkhas and the FFL. E.g., for Afghanistan, recruit indigenous folks from there and surrounding areas; 5-year enlistments with US citizenship path; led by US officers and SNCOs; etc.

2. Development of a new OSS (under a DSS - not within the CIA - since the DSS would be at same level as JCS) for less conventional military activities (cf., Jedburgh WWII). I suppose #1 and #2 could be combined.

That would leave the agency's clandestine side with espionage and non-military covert actions (disinformation, political infiltration, etc.). Some folks would be quite happy to see that - and the Executive would still have the DSS to play with.

Berntsen also has a number of other proposals in the personnel area (e.g., language skills, less reliance on fluttering, accept gay linguists, etc.) that are shared with other constructive critics of agency and DoD policies.

Berntsen also has kind words for JIEDDO (Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization) - as an example of co-operative effort...

https://www.jieddo.dod.mil/

and for Dalton Fury, covered here at this thread.

http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6161

He has a different slant on Iran from Bob Baer.

He is a bit weak (technically) when he addresses legal issues such as Gitmo, etc. - not one of his areas of expertise.
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Crabtree's Bludgeon (updated) - No set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated and implausible - credits: R.V. Jones & Hayden Peake.
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Old 11-01-2008   #42
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He has a different slant on Iran from Bob Baer.

He is a bit weak (technically) when he addresses legal issues such as Gitmo, etc. - not one of his areas of expertise.
maybe his views of iran are somehow connected to the mid east inst, since that's where that little speaking engagement was held:

http://www.cq.com/public/20060203_homeland.html
Quote:
Actually, it would be big news if a senior U.S. diplomat in the Middle East did not accept the warm embrace of the Saudis or other despots upon leaving the region.

They are sprinkled all over Washington, particularly in such well-known Saudi-supported think tanks as the Middle East Institute (MEI).

Two former top American diplomats in Saudi Arabia lead the MEI — Wyche Fowler Jr. (chairman), ambassador to Riyadh from 1996 to 2001, and Edward “Ned” Walker (president), a former deputy chief of the U.S. embassy there and at one time the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for the Near East. MEI’s vice president, David Mack, was an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and, like Walker, a top Near East official at the State Department. Also at MEI is Richard Parker, former ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco, and Michael Sterner, former ambassador to UAE and deputy assistant secretary of Near Eastern Affairs.

Chas. W. Freeman Jr., another former U.S. ambassador to the kingdom, is president of the Saudi-backed Middle East Policy Council. Another ambassador, Walter Cutler, leads the Saudi-backed Meridian International Center.

From the Saudi point of view, all this is a good thing.
baer's take is realistic and probably more thought out:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...oryId=95285396
Quote:
Iran's star is rising. And now with a friendly Shia government in Baghdad, it will rise a lot faster. On the other hand, the old Sunni order-the foundation of American interests in the Middle East-is edging toward collapse. How long can Pakistan and Saudi Arabia hold on? For the first time in the history of Islam, Shia domination of Mecca is not unthinkable. Nor is an Iranian empire in the Middle East. Was Khomeini right after all, that Iran would ultimately defeat America, the Great Satan?

Defining Iran's imperial drive is the subject of this book. The viewpoint is from the periphery, where empires are historically best observed, their character best understood. We better understand Rome's imperial character by looking at Roman Gaul or Spain rather than at the metropolitan center. In the same way, we'll better understand Iran's imperial blueprint by looking at Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan rather than Tehran.

as for gitmo and interrogations, this is the best discussion on the matter:

http://www.csis.org/component/option...,view/id,1703/
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Old 11-02-2008   #43
Rex Brynen
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maybe his views of iran are somehow connected to the mid east inst, since that's where that little speaking engagement was held:

http://www.cq.com/public/20060203_homeland.html

They are sprinkled all over Washington, particularly in such well-known Saudi-supported think tanks as the Middle East Institute (MEI).
Quote:
Two former top American diplomats in Saudi Arabia lead the MEI — Wyche Fowler Jr. (chairman), ambassador to Riyadh from 1996 to 2001, and Edward “Ned” Walker (president), a former deputy chief of the U.S. embassy there and at one time the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for the Near East. MEI’s vice president, David Mack, was an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and, like Walker, a top Near East official at the State Department. Also at MEI is Richard Parker, former ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco, and Michael Sterner, former ambassador to UAE and deputy assistant secretary of Near Eastern Affairs.
Funny how that quote fails to mention that Ned Walker was also US ambassador to Israel. I guess that particular fact doesn't fit so well with the "Saudi conspiracy" argument that's being made.

As a quick look through the Middle East Journal (MEI's flagship journal, and, along with the International Journal of Middle East Studies, one of the two main academic publications on the Middle East) makes clear, MEI hardly hews a pro-Saudi, or pro-anything, line. (Indeed, the most recent issue of MEJ has articles on accidental Saudi destabilization of the Shah, and the segregation of Saudi women--hardly favorite topics for Riyadh!)

One could start an entire thread on how the hyperpartisanship around ME issues (and the demonization of outstanding regional experts like Rashid Khalidi and Rob Malley in the current presidential campaign) inhibits the ability of the USG to effectively pursue its national interests in the region...
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Old 11-02-2008   #44
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Default Deep undercover obituary

Just about fits the thread's theme; an obituary from The (UK) Daily Telegraph, on a deep undercover agent in the Communist Party and later directed at the Provisional IRA: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obit...lia-Pirie.html

Yes, some "spin" is present. Incidentally this newspaper has by far the best military obituary section; currently WW2 and Korea veterans appear regularly.

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Old 11-02-2008   #45
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Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
Funny how that quote fails to mention that Ned Walker was also US ambassador to Israel. I guess that particular fact doesn't fit so well with the "Saudi conspiracy" argument that's being made.

As a quick look through the Middle East Journal (MEI's flagship journal, and, along with the International Journal of Middle East Studies, one of the two main academic publications on the Middle East) makes clear, MEI hardly hews a pro-Saudi, or pro-anything, line. (Indeed, the most recent issue of MEJ has articles on accidental Saudi destabilization of the Shah, and the segregation of Saudi women--hardly favorite topics for Riyadh!)

One could start an entire thread on how the hyperpartisanship around ME issues (and the demonization of outstanding regional experts like Rashid Khalidi and Rob Malley in the current presidential campaign) inhibits the ability of the USG to effectively pursue its national interests in the region...

Agreed. The boogie man complex is working overtime right now. The Khalidi vilification is especially over the top.

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Old 11-02-2008   #46
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Default Sunni, Shia & Israeli Links ...

Hat tip to Ms. Pirie - and to the preservation of her cover right up to the end.

Quote:
(from Julia Pirie's obit)
Until her death on September 2 Julia Pirie continued to receive her pension from the Communist Party, paid monthly into her account from a bank in Italy. ....
One hopes that MI5 was as or more generous to her retirement account.

Her bio does illustrate one facet of the Middle East (broadly construed geographically):

Quote:
.... Julia Pirie once travelled to Barcelona, renting a flat immediately below one occupied by IRA officials. The flat, rented by members of the Catalan terrorist group Terra Lliure, was being used by the IRA as a safe house and a temporary store for shipments of gold bullion supplied by the Libyan President Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
What a diverse collection of groups. "The enemies of my enemies are my friends."

Having no Sunni, Shia & Israeli links, I tend to look at the attempts to link up this or that group, think tank, research institute, etc., as being something of a gigantic carnival hall of mirrors. Entering that hall of mirrors is more likely to generate bad analysis than anything else.

No doubt that the Middle East generates a good deal of flaming between proponents of the Sunni, Shia & Israeli positions (none of which is monolithic in itself) - and, the emotional intensity leads to nasty ad hominem attacks that may or may not be justified - and, which are immaterial (in most cases) to the arguments that are being made.

All that illustrates another facet of the Middle East:: "You steal my cow. I will burn down your barn - with all of your extended family within it."

Getting embroiled in the back and forth attacks will not be helpful in developing the future of the US intelligence community (communities, to be more accurate). As I read Ishmael Jones, Gary Berntsen and Bob Baer, all are genuinely committed to US interests. Each of them has a different slant on what should be done to further those interests.

My own reading on Islam covers the spectrum from Karen Armstrong to Robert Spencer, with people like John Esposito, Bernard Lewis and A.J. Arberry in the middle - and with the Qur'an as the ultimate source (since I am not an Arabist, I have to make do with M.H. Shakir's translation).

I guess my final point is that it helps to be a bit eclectic - and open-minded - in considering the different poiints of view before reaching a black & white conclusion.

PS: For those not acquainted with Arberry (expertise in both Arabic and Persian studies; dead since 1969), his Wiki bio is here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._J._Arberry
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Last edited by jmm99; 11-02-2008 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 11-03-2008   #47
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Default Operation Hotel California

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
Getting embroiled in the back and forth attacks will not be helpful in developing the future of the US intelligence community (communities, to be more accurate). As I read Ishmael Jones, Gary Berntsen and Bob Baer, all are genuinely committed to US interests. Each of them has a different slant on what should be done to further those interests.

My own reading on Islam covers the spectrum from Karen Armstrong to Robert Spencer, with people like John Esposito, Bernard Lewis and A.J. Arberry in the middle - and with the Qur'an as the ultimate source (since I am not an Arabist, I have to make do with M.H. Shakir's translation).

I guess my final point is that it helps to be a bit eclectic - and open-minded - in considering the different points of view before reaching a black & white conclusion.
thanks for all the feedback, gents... and i agree whole heartedly with this post, jmm99 (thanks for the hint).

not as widely read as most in this forum, i'm not really contributing much as far as analysis goes, but definitely learning a great deal from everyone here (i appreciate the slight nudge away from mediocre thinking or conclusions).

as far as black/white, us/them, i do have my bias against the stuff coming out of arabia. thanks for the book/author recommendations.


---
just finished reading 'operation hotel california' by faddis. it's pretty much on the same line as jones, baer, berntsen--HQ sucks ass and is run by a bunch of pansies. but then half way through the book, faddis sets his sites on one individual--col. waltemeyer, 10th SF group.

faddis paints him as the biggest Ahole ever to walk the earth (a complete opposite from linda robinson's portrait of the guy, in her book 'masters of chaos', but then again she wrote everyone up like heroes in romance novels).

according to faddis, waltemeyer, by simply being an Ahole lost the surrender of saddam's northern command, the 5th corps. the surrender of the 5th corps would've led to other such official surrenders throughout iraq, thus preserving the security apparatus needed to maintain peace and order, after the invasion.

is this possible? can one man actually screw up an armistice or formal surrender by just simply being an Ahole? i thought the checks and balances within the chain of command was designed to prevent such occurences (if it did happened as faddis described)-- this is the reason there are XOs, adjutants, officers w/ law degrees and even senior NCOs.

---

thought this was a good documentary: www.torturingdemocracy.org
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Old 11-03-2008   #48
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Default Walter Meyer in Mosul

This is how the Guardian reported it - where COL Meyer is mentioned, but not a central figure.

Quote:
Mosul descends into chaos as even museum is looted
Luke Harding in Mosul
The Guardian,
Saturday April 12 2003
.....
By the time Asif Mohammed turned up for work yesterday morning, the ancient contents of Mosul's museum had vanished. The looters knew what they were looking for, and in less than 10 minutes had walked off with several million dollars worth of Parthian sculpture.
.....
"It's just been wrecked. I'm extremely angry. We used to have American and British tourists who visited this museum. I want to know whether the Americans accept this."

It was a good question. Unfortunately, as Mosul descended yesterday into a hellish self-feeding chaos, there were no American troops to ask.

The Pentagon had earlier promised that thousands of its soldiers would secure Mosul - a pleasant city of 1 million on the banks of the Tigris - and prevent the kind of mass looting seen elsewhere in Iraq. They would also keep out the Kurds
.....
Yesterday it was abundantly clear this was not true. A quick tour of central Mosul revealed there were no American troops there at all. Several thousand were stationed just down the road in Irbil, inside Kurdish-northern Iraq, but they had failed to arrive.

The Iraqi government abandoned Mosul late on Thursday night. Just as in Kirkuk, Iraqi soldiers garrisoned in the city took off their uniforms and simply drifted away. Overnight American special forces entered briefly with groups of Kurdish peshmerga. The Americans then disappeared.
....
However, last night a US special operations team met Mosul's tribal and community leaders in an attempt to put an end to the unrest. Colonel Walter Meyer told the group that US soldiers were being redeployed there from the Kurdish cities of Arbil, Dohuk and Akra.
....
Had he [Kurdish commander, Wahid Majid] seen the Americans? "They were here earlier but they were unable to control the situation so they left," he said. ....
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/apr/12/iraq.arts

I recall that the US situation in Northern Iraq was pretty well screwed up since Turkey had refused passage to 4ID, etc. My recollection from the TV coverage (which I was then watching pretty much 16/7) was that initially the Iraqi Army was pretty much intact and offered some organized resistance to the Kurds. What exactly happened with the Iraqi northern command, I have no idea - but others at SWC surely will.

PS: in connection with your links to interrogation and torture, you might want to slog your way through posts ## 126-131 in "War Crimes" - which presents the relevant laws without a lot of commentary.
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Old 01-06-2009   #49
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I'm about to finish the Human Factor. I'd say it was a pretty good read. The writing style was quirky and occasionally annoying. Some of the anecdotes were meaningless and some were based on hearsay which made them seem like fillers.

That said, what the hell is going on in the bureaucracy? Jeez. My youth sometimes equates to ignorance but I cannot even imagine having to deal with the nonsense that is described in the book. "Killing Time Kills Marines!" Apparently many of the bureaucrats don't understand what government service is all about. When I think about working for the Man I don't imagine sneaking out of work early, team building exercises, gossip, et cetera. Go work for an insurance company or the local auditor if you want to slack of and do nothing for the policy makers and the policy enforcers.

The information about intelligence gathering was extremely intriguing and educational. The last book I read about the CIA was the Dick Kessler book from the early 90's. That book, from my recollection, was more about the history and structure. This one was about the intelligence gathering which was a great relief.
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Old 01-06-2009   #50
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The information about intelligence gathering was extremely intriguing and educational. The last book I read about the CIA was the Dick Kessler book from the early 90's. That book, from my recollection, was more about the history and structure. This one was about the intelligence gathering which was a great relief.
Ronald Kessler? He's written a few books about CIA. Last I read of his was The CIA at War: Inside the Secret Campaign Against Terror (2003), and found it lackluster. He went overboard in his flattering treatment of Tenet and Krongard.

There have been a handful of other books by former operations officers since 9/11. Bernsten and Schroen's are very good, but exclusively about Afghanistan. The Moran and Waters books are terrible - both of them had little experience to write about anyway, and Mahle's Denial and Deception is fair. IMO Bob Baer's See No Evil is excellent, and though less entertaining than Baer, A Spy's Journey by Floyd Paseman is very good.

That's just stuff that came out in the last eight years. Obviously a large body of work about intelligence gathering stands before it, to help navigate it, The Literature of Intelligence: A Bibliography of Materials, with Essays, Reviews, and Comments is useful.
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Old 01-07-2009   #51
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Yeah, it was Ron Kessler. It was the only interesting thing I could find at my town's dinky public library and it was from the 90's. Thanks for the info in your post, I'm definitely going to be using the link.
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Old 11-19-2012   #52
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Default Ishmael is back!

I thought the name rang a bell when I read this FP Blog article 'Good intel: get out of buildings, onto the streets'; after a few years I cannot recall if he is repeating himself:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...to_the_streets
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Old 02-15-2013   #53
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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
Taking him at his word above, his true nickname could be "Clint". Similarly, with all of the tags for sources and colleagues, the outsider would be hard-pressed to draw any firm conclusions. Was "Suspenders" really a wearer of suspenders, or was he really "Elephant Hide Belt" ? (In Post 31)
Btw, "Suspenders" is currently going through the confirmation process to be the new DCI.
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