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Incompetence of the CIA

2002-01-15 16:31:40+00 by Dan Lyke 13 comments

I realize that this is mostly propaganda put out by his parents to sway public opinion away from heavy punishment, but if John Walker was a bumbling idiot, affecting Arab accents and committing cultural gaffs [also: SF Gate article], where the hell was the CIA? For a while they've been whining about how it was "oh so hard to place moles and operatives", and here comes this boorish stereotypical ugly American who, if the U.S. P.R. machine is to be believed, waltzed right in to hear the highest secrets of the Taliban. Well, Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Tenet, how can we get some accountability?

[ related topics: moron Current Events WTC/Pentagon attacks ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:29+00 by: TC

You don't hear the success stories. Just some of the mistakes when someone has to get their bacon fried by the GAO.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:30+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yabbut... I'm not sure we've had any foreign policy situations in the past several decades where the CIA[Wiki] could have had any success stories. Maybe that's just foreign policy failures, though.

From as far back as the failures of the CIA[Wiki] during the Korean war (with losses to U.S. sympathizers that even the CIA[Wiki] later termed "morally reprehensible") to the Bay of Pigs to bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (which might have be termed a success if the conspiracy theorists were correct and the Chinese had recovered parts of the recently downed F-117), if they're having successess to match those failures I think we'd be pretty darned aware of 'em.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:30+00 by: TC

Nope, you wouldn't ;)

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:30+00 by: Larry Burton

Sometimes I wonder if the CIA doesn't just act like an ineffectual agency in order to be more effective, then something really horrible happens that shouldn't have if they had been the least bit effective to make me realize that that just can't be it.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:30+00 by: Pete

Larry, you're making my head hurt.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:30+00 by: Dan Lyke

Todd, I think of the CIA[Wiki] as contractors hired to shore up the foundation in the house. They come in, cause all sorts of short circuits, break all the windows, all the pipe joints start to leak and it smells like the sewer lines got punctured, and it's pouring buckets through the roof. Somehow, through all this, the customers believe that the foundation is stronger now.

Not buying it. Not denying that we need a good foreign intelligence service, but the culture of the CIA[Wiki] seems like that service will never come from there.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:30+00 by: TC

Dan: I think your a little bit right with the contractor analogy and I think Larry is a little bit right about the facade of baffoonism and I'm certainly not saying they are the smartest 3 letter organization (most of the smart folk work for the NSA) but my point is your ragging on them(CIA) with a very imperfect picture. One of the disadvantages of living in a repulic is that you are relying on a few senators on oversight committees to watchdog a clandestine organization. Yeah they have intellegence failures but I think foreign intellegenceis one of our goverment sucess stories. Can you imagine what the world would be like if our intellegence opperation were run by an entity like DMV<shudder>

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:30+00 by: Larry Burton

Actually, I think the CIA does a very good job of gathering intelligence. It's what they do in the analysis end that bothers me.

Pete, you ought to catch me on one of my rambling days. ;-)

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:31+00 by: Dan Lyke

Todd, I think you've nailed it: The CIA is the DMV of the espionage world. If we replaced the organizational culture of the CIA[Wiki] with that of No Such Agency I think we'd have a more efficient and more accountable intelligence gathering system.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:31+00 by: petronius

I havn't heard anybody claiming Walker had any entry into Taliban higher circles. I suspect he was mostly washing dishes while they figured out what to do with him. In the early days of the war I saw an interview with a CIA man during the anti-Soviet days (who was I think written into one of Tom Clancy's novels)who discussed his relationship with the mujahadeen. He had one rebel commander who would only trust messages delivered by his brother. The CIA would have to send word to the mountains that they had a message; wait for Ali to trek over, dodging Hind choppers all the way; give him the message ("Attack Kabul on the first night of the next full moon!"); wait for him to get back to Tora Bora; and hope he got through. A bit sticky to infiltrate that family.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:32+00 by: Dan Lyke

NPR this morning reported that Ashcroft has claimed that Walker had one-on-one contact with Osama bin Laden, which confirms my impression from Ashcroft's previous statements that our Attorney General is portraying Walker as someone who had access, even if he wasn't involved in decision making.

So either Ashcroft is lying (likely) or the CIA[Wiki] is incompetent.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:32+00 by: Dan Lyke

Here's a SF Chronicle article which repeats the reports of Ashcroft's statements:

Attorney General John Ashcroft said the charges are based on Walker's statements to the FBI that he trained in terrorist camps, met with Osama bin Laden and knew that bin Laden was plotting an attack on the United States.

"He chose to embrace fanatics, and his allegiance to those fanatics and terrorists never faltered, not even with the knowledge that they had murdered thousands of his countrymen," Ashcroft said.

I think there's a good chance that Walker was caught between sleep deprivation, pain killers, and the puffery and increased self-importance of being 20 when he made those statements, but if Ashcroft gets a conviction in this case the CIA[Wiki] needs to get severely spanked.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:35+00 by: Shawn

What I see here is Walker claiming to have met bin Laden, and Ashcroft believing him (at least publicly) for publicity/conviction. I don't think it likely that we (or anyone here in the US) will ever know if Walker ever really did get that close.