Intelligence: Broken Arrow

194221_5_By G. Murphy Donovan:

Policy is a worldview. Intelligence is the real world, a wilderness of untidy facts that may or may not influence policy. When Intelligence fails to provide a true and defensible estimate, a clear picture of threat, policy becomes a rat’s nest of personal and political agendas where asserted conclusions and political correctness become the loudest voices in the room.  The policymaker thinks he knows the answer. The intelligence officer has the much tougher tasks of confirming or changing minds.

American national security analysis has been poisoned by such toxins. An Intelligence report these days might be any estimate that supports the politics of the moment. Truth today is an afterthought at best and an orphan at worst.

Alas, corrupt Intelligence is the midwife of strategic fiasco. Four contemporary failures provide illustrations: revolutionary theocracy, the Islam bomb, imperial Islamism, and the new Cold War.

Back to Theocracy

The Persian revolution of 1979 was arguably the most significant strategic surprise of the last half of the 20th Century. Yes, more significant than the fall of Soviet Communism. (The precipitous fall of the Soviet Bloc, to be sure, was another bellwether event unanticipated by Intelligence analysis.) The successful religious coup in Iran, heretofore an American client regime, now provides a model for all Muslim states where the default setting among tribal autocracies is now theocracy not democracy. In the wake of the Communist collapse, Francis Fukuyama argued that the democratic ideal was triumphant, an end of history as we knew it, the evolutionary consequence of progressive dialects. Fukuyama was wrong, tragically wrong. History is a two-way street that runs forward as well as backwards.

The fall of the Soviet monolith was not the end of anything. It was the beginning of profound regression, an era of religious irredentism. Worrisome as the Cold War was, the relationship with Moscow was fairly well managed. Who can argue today that East Europe or the Muslim world is more stable or peaceful than it was three decades ago?

The Persian revolution of 1979 not only reversed the vector of Muslim politics, but the triumph of Shia imperialism blew new life into the Shia/Sunni sectarian fire, a conflict that had been smoldering for more than a thousand years. The theocratic victory in Tehran also raised the ante for Israel too, now confronted by state sponsored Shia and Sunni antagonists,Hezb’allah, Fatah, and Hamas.

Shia Hezb’allah calls itself the party of God! Those in the Intelligence Community who continue to insist that religion is not part of the mix have yet to explain why God is part of the conversation only on the Islamic side of the equation.

Global Islamic terror is now metastasizing at an alarming rate. More ominous is the ascent of the Shia clergy, apocalyptic ayatollahs, bringing a lowering of the nuclear threshold in the Middle East. Sunni ISIS by comparison is just another tactical terror symptom on the Sunni side — and yet another strategic warning failure too.

Tehran is in the cat bird’s seat, on the cusp of becoming a nuclear superpower. Nuclear Iran changes every strategic dynamic: with Israel, with Arabia, and also with NATO. A Shia bomb is the shortcut to checkmate the more numerous Sunni. Iran will not be “talked out” of the most potent tool in imperial Shia kit — and the related quest for parity with Arabian apostates.

The Islam Bomb

The Islam bomb has been with us for years, in Sunni Pakistan, although you might never know that if you followed the small wars follies in South Asia. The enemy, as represented by American analysis, is atomized, a cast of bit players on the subcontinent. First, America was fighting a proxy war with the Soviets. When the Russians departed, the enemy became the murderous Taliban followed by al Qaeda. Both now make common cause with almost every stripe of mujahedeen today. In the 25 years since the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan has been reduced now to a rubble of narco-terror and tribalism. If we can believe bulletins from the Pentagon or the Oval Office, America is headed for the Afghan exit in the next two years — maybe. Throughout, the real threat in South Asia remains unheralded — and unmolested.

Nuclear Pakistan is one car bomb, or one AK-47 clip, away from another Taliban theocracy. This is not the kind of alarm that has been raised by the Intelligence Community. Hindu India probably understands the threat, Shia Persia surely understands the Sunni threat, and just as surely, Israel understands that a Sunni bomb is the raison d’etre for a more proximate Shia bomb. Who would argue that the Sunni Saudis need nuclear “power”? Nonetheless, Riyadh is now in the game too.  The most unstable corner of the globe is now host to a nuclear power pull.

The American national security establishment seems to be clueless on all of this. Indeed, when a unique democracy like Israel tries to illuminate a portion of the nuclear threat before the American Congress, the Israeli prime minister is stiff-armed by the Oval Office. If Washington failed with Pakistan and North Korea, why would anyone, let alone the Israelis, believe that Wendy Sherman is a match for the nuclear pipedreams of apocalyptic Shia priests.

Alas, the motive force behind a Shia bomb is not Israeli capabilities or intentions. Israel is a stable democracy where any territorial ambitions are limited to the traditional Jewish homeland. Israel is no threat to Persia or Arabia.  Pakistan, in contrast, is like much of the Sunni world today, another internecine tribal or sectarian wildfire waiting for a match.

The advent of the Islam bomb in Asia was not just a strategic surprise, but the step-child of strategic apathy. The folly of taking sides with the Sunni has now come home to roost. Iran is about to go for the atomic brass ring too, with the Saudis in trail, and there’s not much that America can/will do except mutter about secret diplomacy and toothless sanctions. Of course, there’s always the option of blaming Jews when appeasement fails.

Imperial Islam

The Ummah problem, the Muslim world, has now replaced the Soviet empire, as Churchill would have put it, as the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” There are four dimensions to the Islamic conundrum: the Shia/Sunni rift, intramural secular/religious conflicts, kinetic antipathy towards Israel and the West writ large, and the failure of analysis, especially strategic Intelligence, to unwrap the Muslim onion in any useful way. Imperial Islam, dare we say Islamofascism, now threatens secular autocracy and democracy on all points of the compass.


 Islam in London

Islamic imperialism is a decentralized global movement. Nonetheless, the various theaters are united by tactics, strategy, ideology, and objectives. The tactics are jihad, small wars, and terror. The strategy is the imposition of Shariah Law. The ideology is the Koran and the Hadith. And the objective is a Shia or Sunni Islamic Caliphate — for infidels, a distinction without difference.

Muslim religious proselytizers and jihad generals in the field make no secret of any of this. The problem isn’t that some Muslims dissent from this agenda, the problem is that the West, especially national security analysts, cannot/will not believe or accept what Islamic imperialists say aloud, about themselves. The enemy is hiding in plain sight, yet the Intelligence Community doesn’t have the integrity or courage to make a clear call.

Read more at American Thinker

After Charlie Hebdo massacre, we must ratchet up policing and intelligence-gathering to catch every possible terrorist


Sunday, January 11, 2015

The horrific terrorist attack in Paris underscores the importance of retaining our focus on preventing attacks here in the United States. This requires a layered, proactive, aggressive and relentless strategy that identifies the attacker before he launches an attack.

A purely defensive strategy of protecting our critical infrastructure, which is what some people would have us settle for, will not be sufficient in our open society.

The search for terrorists at home begins overseas, as they travel to and from the United States, and continues within the homeland.

Overseas, American partnership with local intelligence services have been effective since 9/11. Our CIA station chiefs around the world have been charged with getting intelligence from our partners.

The key to our success here is best understood by the maxim of my partner at NYPD and 35-year career intelligence officer, David Cohen. Cohen says there is no such thing as “intelligence sharing” — there is only “intelligence trading.” Real secrets are traded among serious collectors of intelligence. And our ability to get good actionable intelligence from our partners depends on our ability to provide them with the same.

In my experience, one of the most effective tools we have in this regard is our enormous NSA signals-intelligence collection program. NSA, that recently maligned agency, is one of our nation’s true jewels. Its enormous collection platforms enable us to share vital intelligence with our partners — who are happy to return the favor, often intelligence collected by their human sources.

NSA also passes critical intelligence data collected abroad through the CIA to the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task Forces around the country. This enables the FBI to focus its investigations on people identified with connections to terrorist organizations abroad.

This intelligence, in conjunction with human intelligence collected by CIA unilaterally or through its partnership with local intelligence services, informs the no-travel lists that are so crucial to protecting our shores from traveling terrorists. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the Charlie Hebdo terrorists had been on the U.S. no-fly list for years.

But these lists are not enough. Aggressive intelligence is required at our border — and within our neighborhoods. At the border, we must increase the use of secondary inspections in our airports and other border crossings. These secondary inspections pull people from security lines and enable trained personnel to conduct brief interviews in separate rooms.

It is hard understate the value of these inspections. “Secondaries” serve multiple purposes. They are a deterrent to terrorists contemplating travel to the U.S., who will never know when they get yanked out a line and questioned.

In addition, secondary inspections are a rich source of future informants — the key to unraveling cells within the United States.

Aggressive, non-politically correct secondary inspections will, in fact, target young men between 18 and 30 years old traveling from certain countries. Indeed this is a form of profiling.

But without profiling travelers it is virtually impossible to get real results. There are simply too many travelers, and not enough inspectors to pick randomly and hope for the best.

Inside the United States, counterterrorism investigations conducted by the FBI terrorism task forces and NYPD intelligence are the most effective way to catch a terrorist before he attacks. Random cars stops or other generic police tactics will not get it done. We need targeted investigations that are managed by the laws of the land and limited by the Patriot Act of 2001.

Unfortunately, it is only the NYPD that conducts counterterrorism investigations outside of the FBI task forces — and it gets plenty of grief from the federal government for doing so.

Other local police forces should expand their counterterrorism activities, coordinated with the FBI to ensure all potential leads and suspects are properly investigated and surveilled if necessary.

It is unconscionable that the two Chechen Boston marathon bombers were not under surveillance based on the threat warnings received by the Russian government. Cops know how to do this; it is not that different from running counter-narcotics investigations.

The two biggest obstacles to finding terrorists within our midst are complacency and political correctness. We must overcome both of these and conduct legal, thorough and aggressive investigations at our border and within our cities.

Fortunately, our terrorist adversaries make many mistakes. If we are alert and on the job, we will identify these mistakes and intercept the vast majority of attacks before they happen. There is no guarantee of course that we will catch every would-be murderer. But we know how to increase the odds in our favor. We need to direct our law enforcement and intelligence services to get to it.

And support them when they conduct their jobs to protect us.

Sheehan, a career Special Forces Army officer, was the former deputy commissioner for counterterrorism at NYPD, the ambassador at large for counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State and most recently the assistant secretary of defense for special operations at the Pentagon. He is currently the distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, N.Y., his alma mater.

Former CIA Officer Gary Berntsen talks reactions to the Agency’s report

Published on Dec 11, 2014 by CCTV America

CCTV America interviewed Gary Berntsen for an inside perspective on the report. Berntsen is a former CIA Senior Operations Officer.

Also see:

Justice Department to prohibit agents from considering religion in counterterror investigations

HOLDER-articleLarge-thumb-autox548-4682By Robert Spencer:

Because who ever heard of Muslims being involved in terrorism? The very idea is preposterous! Why would anyone get the idea that counterterror surveillance was ever needed in Muslim communities?

“U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents,” by Matt Apuzzo for the New York Times, January 15 (thanks to Linda Sarsour):

The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations, a government official said Wednesday.The move addresses a decade of criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.

The Bush administration banned profiling in 2003, but with two caveats: It did not apply to national security cases, and it covered only race, not religion, ancestry or other factors.

Since taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has been under pressure from Democrats in Congress to eliminate those provisions. “These exceptions are a license to profile American Muslims and Hispanic-Americans,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said in 2012.

President George W. Bush said in 2001 that racial profiling was wrong and promised “to end it in America.” But that was before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. After those attacks, federal agents arrested and detained dozens of Muslim men who had no ties to terrorism. The government also began a program known as special registration, which required tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim men to register with the authorities because of their nationalities.

“Putting an end to this practice not only comports with the Constitution, it would put real teeth to the F.B.I’s claims that it wants better relationships with religious minorities,” said Hina Shamsi, a national security lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

It is not clear whether Mr. Holder also intends to make the rules apply to national security investigations, which would further respond to complaints from Muslim groups.

“Adding religion and national origin is huge,” said Linda Sarsour, advocacy director for the National Network for Arab American Communities. “But if they don’t close the national security loophole, then it’s really irrelevant.

In other words, she even wants it to be forbidden for Muslims to be placed under surveillance in the interests of national security.

Read more at Jihad Watch

Why Terrorist Attacks Have Quadrupled Since 2001

1280-computational-analysis-of-terrorists-groups-437x350By Kerry Patton

Terrorism is a tactic used by individuals with specific ideologies. Killing an ideology is nearly impossible. The war on terror is a complete misnomer. A war cannot be waged against a tactic. And proving to be an ideological war, evidence demonstrates that today, the tactic of terrorism is actually growing world-wide.

Since 2001, the United States and our allies have been engaged in a complex war fighting against an ideology. Many people have been killed while many more have been maimed. Today, it is known via the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, deaths caused by terror have decreased yet attacks have actually quadrupled world-wide since 2001.

The leading ideological culprit behind the growing terror dilemma is Islam. The Global Terrorism Database proves unequivocally that those who embrace a very twisted religious ideology are leading the world today in terrorist activities — i.e. Islamists.

Terrorists have varied their tactics with advanced unconventional tools. Today, we learn that Syria is threatening to incorporate chemical weapons against its opposition. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has already ransacked at least three Syrian military bases procuring Manual Portable Air Defense (MANPAD) systems shooting down a Syrian military helicopter just last week. Do we know whether they obtained any chemical weapons during the raids as well?

What happens if the opposition obtains these chemical weapons? What happens if Al Qaeda elements fighting alongside Free Syrian Army rebels transfer these weapon systems elsewhere later, incorporating them into the streets of a European or North American nation? Terrorist and their movements strengthen.

Four credible arguments can be made explaining why terrorist incidents have increased over the years—weak US foreign policy, internal fighting between conventional and unconventional military wisdom, technical intelligence dependency, and decapitated US human intelligence.

A weak US foreign policy could be partially blamed for the spike in world-wide terrorist incidents. Since the start of the Arab Spring, the United States has actually emboldened terrorist groups through “behind closed doors” diplomacy, weapons procurement, and other logistical needs. Simply put, the very people we often assist frequently become the very people we fight.

Read more at Front Page