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How Insightful

Our Uncle flogs an expired equine:

The terrorism threat to the United States over the next five years will be driven by instability in the Middle East and Africa, persistent challenges to border security and increasing Internet savvy, says a new intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press.

While I am hesitant to comment too extensively on an assessment I haven't seen in full, if this report hits the highlights then someone is really doing a disservice to the consumer. Cyber threats, home-grown radicals, Jihadists . . . wow, how insightful. I am sure the version at a higher classification has a few juicier tid-bits, but enough to justify the level of effort put forth for such a publication? Unlikely.

Forget real or alleged politicization, this is the real reason why people who have to make hard decisions so often dismiss "intelligence." Intelligence, in a nutshell, should be telling you something you don't already know in a format or fashion that allows you to make better decisions and take more effective action. As far as one can tell this does none of that; it is a digest of the news and last time I checked news was more or less free.

The real threat here is not the bad actors being described, but a culture that lacks the fortitude to do things properly for fear of (largely misguided) slings and arrows. The perception that intelligence can or should never be wrong has probably cost more lives and caused more political-military disasters than any actually wrong intelligence report ever has. Telling people what they already know tells them nothing, and that's not silent, self-less service, that's malfeasance.

2 Comments

Michael,

The following from your piece ranks as one of the most poginant insights on the foibles of Western intelligence that I have yet to happen upon:

"lacks the fortitude to do things properly for fear of (largely misguided) slings and arrows. The perception that intelligence can or should never be wrong has probably cost more lives and caused more political-military disasters than any actually wrong intelligence report ever has."

Three cheers for having the wisdom, and dare I say the gonads, to venture where others fear to tread.

Exactly, Michael. The problem is not "instability" per se, but the existence of bad actors. Saudi Arabia (KSA) is the source of Wahhabi Jihadism against the West. The culture of radicalism is pervasive and accepted, or at least tolerated.

What we probably need is to shake things up, not perpetuate a status quo that works against us. Replacing Saddam's government was a good first step. We don't need to invade anywhere else, but do need to work to reform the culture.

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