Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Intel v. Covert Ops in Afghanistan

These two separate stories are being treated as if they are just one big picture of incompetence. They are not, or at least not entirely. What the first from the New York Times shows is that risks are being taken in the very risky business of running assets for deadly covert operations. The second is a reflection of the age-old tension between those who want to focus on gathering a wider spectrum of "pure" intelligence, in this case about the way Afghanistan and the Taliban function, and those who are focused on a more narrow objective, in this instance tracking and killing the Al Qaeda leadership. - C.D.

Behind Afghan Bombing, an Agent With Many Loyalties

Published: January 4, 2010
This article is by Richard A. Oppel Jr., Mark Mazzetti and Souad Mekhennet.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The suicide bomber who killed seven C.I.A. officers and a Jordanian spy last week was a double agent who was taken onto the base in Afghanistan because the Americans hoped he might be able to deliver top members of Al Qaeda’s network, according to Western government officials.

The bomber had been recruited by the Jordanian intelligence service and taken to Afghanistan to infiltrate Al Qaeda by posing as a foreign jihadi, the officials said.

But in a deadly turnabout, the supposed informant strapped explosives to his body and blew himself up at a meeting Wednesday at the C.I.A.’s Forward Operating Base Chapman in the southeastern province of Khost.

The attack at the C.I.A. base dealt a devastating blow to the spy agency’s operations against militants in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, eliminating an elite team using an informant with strong jihadi credentials. The attack further delayed hope of penetrating Al Qaeda’s upper ranks, and also seemed potent evidence of militants’ ability to strike back against their American pursuers....http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/asia/05cia.html

US spy effort in Afghanistan 'ignorant'- US report

05 Jan 2010 00:46:06 GMT
Source: Reuters

* U.S. military official says U.S. intelligence 'hazy'
* Report says spies too focused on killing insurgents
* Criticism follows suicide bomber's breach of CIA base

By Adam Entous and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. military's intelligence chief in Afghanistan sharply criticized the work of U.S. spy agencies there on Monday, calling them ignorant and out of touch with the Afghan people. In a report issued by the Center for New American Security think tank, Major General Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan for the U.S. military and its NATO allies, offered a bleak assessment of the intelligence community's role in the 8-year-old war. He described U.S. intelligence officials there as "ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced ... and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers." An operations officer was quoted in the report as calling the United States "clueless" because of a lack of needed intelligence about the country. The report, which highlighted tensions between military and intelligence agencies, urged changes such as a focus on gathering more information on a wider range of issues at a grassroots level....http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N04252368.htm

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