Night ops

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Report Finds U.S. Intelligence Still Flawed

Reuters
Report Finds U.S. Intelligence Still Flawed
, speaking of intelligence service, not IQ levels (though I suspect Reuters might have an opinion on that, too). The Reuters article states, in part,
"We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," the commissioners wrote.

And at a time when the United States is accusing Iran of nuclear ambitions and pressuring North Korea, the report said: "Across the board, the intelligence community knows disturbingly little about the nuclear programs of many of the world's most dangerous actors."
This will provide fodder for those who believe that the world is full of good people who just want nuclear reactors to make the lights come on and who would be just as willing to switch to wind power if they could because they will seize on the idea that the US "knows disturbingly little" to assert that the world is not dangerous because we don't have absolute proof to the contrary.

But you need to separate the actual report from the Reuters spin ("at a time when the United States is accusing Iran of nuclear ambitions and pressuring North Korea").

We can apply some common sense to this matter, regardless of how "flawed" our intelligence is.

It helps that the North Koreans admit to cheating on arms control agreements and to having some number of nuclear weapons. That sort of puts the "pressuring North Korea" bit from Reuters into an understandable context.

It also seems appropriate to be "accusing Iran of nuclear ambitions" in that Iran seems to be intent on raising questions about what it is up to. The acquisition of nuclear warhead capable cruise missiles, coupled with its dealings with the EU on the nuclear inspection issues causes me to bump them over into a "strong suspicion of having nukes soon" category, just based on what I read in the papers.

If we wait for perfect intelligence to make contingency plans on how to deal with Iran, we'd be too late if they are developing weapons. If they aren't, we just wasted some planning time. Which is the worse outcome?

As for our faulty intelligence, I suspect, without having read the report yet, that an excessive reliance on sensors instead of human intelligence is involved.

More later, after I read the report.

Update: Cleaned up some typos and clarified that my quotes are from the Reuters article, not the Report.

Update2: The Report is available from the White House here (pdf download).

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