The United States has numerous intelligence flaws. While the nation has some of the best technical capabilities for intelligence collection, analysis, and production, we continue to encounter several gaps within our intelligence process. As identified in an earlier Fox News report this week, finally, the Government Accountability Office has acknowledged a serious calamity within our intelligence domains–revealed in a Fox News FOIA procured GAO drafted document.
Since the Carter Administration, U.S. intelligence has been faced with a heavy influence on technological intelligence collection. The Church and Pike Committees executed a devastating blow to one of the most sought after intelligence disciplines needed to defeat today’s asymmetric threats–Human Intelligence. As LT. COL (Ret.) Oliver North stated in February 2011, “the United States lacks human intelligence.”
The GAO explains that Intelligence gaps exist predominantly due to the reliance of technical intelligence procurement. Some nation states are not utilizing certain technical tools needed within intelligence data management programs–some do not even have the internationally cross pollinating intelligence databases used by U.S. and other foreign intelligence organizations. Because of this, the United States lacks critical intelligence in safeguarding national interests.
The GAO report exemplifies exactly what many current and former intelligence officers have been saying for years–we rely too heavily on technical intelligence and foreign entities. Add political correctness into the mix and one will understand that our intelligence community faces austere danger. As retired CIA officer Wayne Simmons stated in 2009:
“In 1975, I watched the Church Committee decimate the CIA’s human intelligence – ‘HUMINT’ — capabilities. As a result, for over 25 years the U.S. was subjected to brutal, deadly attacks by Islamic terrorists at our bases and embassies around the world and on the high seas. This did not seem to alarm anyone other than those of us with the CIA and FBI until the Islamic terrorists drove jets into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Only then did Congress want to know why the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies did not or could not foresee the attack that killed almost 3,000 people.”
Former CIA officer Kent Clizbe had written in 2010 that political correctness has virtually taken over the Central Intelligence Agency. He believes a great amount of political correctness contributed to the death of seven CIA officers in Khost, Afghanistan–an atrocity which likely has pushed for more risk aversion within our intelligence community hindering HUMINT operations.
“The focus of the CIA is no longer on conducting effective intelligence operations against America’s enemies. Their focus is now, like most US government entities, bureaucratic survival and establishing a ‘diverse’ workforce.”
While the recent GAO report rightly identifies flaws in U.S. intelligence practices, solutions must be identified and implemented to resolve U.S. intelligence issues. As many former intelligence officers have repeatedly stated, we need to bring focus back on the Human Intelligence discipline. Technological intelligence has incredible benefits; however, fighting today’s asymmetric threats needs the human factor. A lesson should be learned in Pakistan that we cannot rely on foreign governments for intelligence. As a nation, we also need to understand that political correctness can and has jeopardized our nation–PC has no room in the intelligence world.
The GAO did this nation a service by identifying a critical component which assists our national security as utterly flawed. Politicians are now informed about this dilemma. Will they institute best practices to remedy the situation?
Kerry Patton is the Co-Founder of the National Security Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization pending 501c (3) status. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies” and the children’s book “American Patriotism.” You can follow him on Facebook.