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Politics of Intelligence

There is nothing in this world that is immune from politics.  Political posturing even exists between spouses and siblings.  There are some industries, social organizations, and governmental agencies, however, that should make all attempts to keep politics out of their day-to-day activities as possible.  One example to which I think most would agree is that of the Department of Education.  I believe that most would agree that politicians should stay out of educational decision-making because, as history has proven, politicians are awful at it.  They cause far more problems than they resolve.  It also a matter of keeping political indoctrination (either conservative OR liberal) is not the job of educators, but of parents.  Tailoring curriculums towards one political group versus another is undesirable and, quite frankly, a disservice to our children.

Another example, and an important to which most Americans are unfamiliar, is in the area of Intelligence.  This includes intelligence collected by the CIA as well as the DOD and private contractors.  There are so many groups, public and private, involved in the intelligence business, it would blow the minds of Americans.  While the president, as Commander In Chief, sets the priorities for intelligence collection.  This allows these groups to determine how to prioritize their various intelligence assets.  As a side note, I hear someone say the other day on the news that no other country in the world has the quality intelligence industry as the United States.  I had to laugh.  It was a laughable comment because much of what we know, especially about human intelligence, was learned from the British. Having been a part of the intelligence community, we have had a renown intelligence industry up to this point.  In the past 8 years, under Obama, it has been severely weakened.

In his 2014 budget, President Obama cut 8% from the intelligence agencies’ budgets.  At that time, Director of National Intelligence said such cuts could put out nation at risk.  “The capability we cut out today, you won’t know about that, you won’t notice it,” he said. “The public won’t notice it. You’ll notice it only when we have a failure.” (Newsmax, April 10,2013)  The most damage, in my opinion, is in the drastic reduction of our human intelligence capabilities.  Clapper added in the article that these same types of cuts in the 1990s left the nation weak and unprepared when 9-11 happened.  We are in that same position today.

The other issue with having politics mired into intelligence activities is when intelligence agents and analysts are forced to compromise their activities at the whim of political actors, like that of the Commander In Chief.  You may recall an article from the New York Times on September 15, 2015, wherein they reported that “A group of intelligence analysts have provided investigators with documents they say show that senior military officers manipulated the conclusions of reports on the war against the Islamic State, according to several government officials, as lawmakers from both parties voiced growing anger that they may have received a distorted picture about the military campaign’s progress.”  The only reason that these military officers would have ever done this is because they were ordered to do so because it fit the narrative that the CIC wanted to put out to the American people to keep his legacy in place.  Such manipulation are extremely dangerous, most especially to the troops on the ground, but also the American people at home because it presents a false sense of security which does not in actuality exist.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you that I worked directly with Central Command (CENTCOM) when I was a Counterintelligence Agent assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.  I worked with them on a weekly basis.  Anyone assigned at this level is a top-notch soldier and highly qualified at their job.  I wrote regular analysis reports myself and I can tell you how important it was to me that those reports were the very best quality reports I could put my name on.  Not one analyst is going to sign their name to a report that they believe could be wrong.  It isn’t going to intentionally happen because every one of us knows that, if an error should occur, that could mean death to a soldier or to an intelligence asset.  None of us would ever want that on our conscience.  No one!

A whistleblower at CENTCOM made the report that ” intelligence analysts were being pressured to show a false and more positive view of our fight against ISIS and to downplay the threat of ISIS in military reports” (http://aclj.org/national-security/cooking-the-books-on-isis-the-military-intelligence-controversy).  Congress opened an investigation into the matter and found that the intelligence analysts were bullied into making alterations to their reports.  When they refused, the reports were changed before being submitted up the chain of command.  During interviews, analysts reported that their leadership was “risk-averse and unwilling to accept uncertainty in intelligence analysis—which by its very nature deals in probabilities and contingencies rather than certainties.” (http://aclj.org/national-security/cooking-the-books-on-isis-the-military-intelligence-controversy)

Now knowing that President Obama has severely reduced our intelligence capabilities and he has bullied them into lying about what we know about the status of our enemy’s operations, how can we trust that President Obama is not lying to us about Russian hacking.  Not one time has he offered to the American people evidence of this purported hacking.  We keep hearing that it exists, but it has yet to be presented.  This hacking only became a real issue after Hillary Clinton lost the election.  Prior to that President Obama said in a press conference on October 18, 2016, “there is no evidence that election rigging has ever happened or could happen.” ( http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/10/18/obama_to_trump_stop_whining_about_a_rigged_election.html)  Apparently now that has all changed and the evil, manacle Russians have managed to do it through hacking, though not of our election systems, but of Hillary Clinton’s illegal private server and her and her campaign manager’s, John Podesta, emails.  This is their claim.

Here’s the thing.  We are treading on some very thin ice where Russia is concerned.  All of this negativity against our adversary is not good.  Sure, we don’t like them, but we have to work with them.  Putin is an extremely dangerous person.  His goal, first and foremost, is to re-establish the USSR, maybe not under that name, but that is his bottom line goal.  If he can gain more territory and more power than his predecessors, then that will be all the better.  He is getting some thrill from seeing us squirm about this hacking business, but he does not take to unjustified threats or actions, like throwing out diplomats and sanctions.  Since every nation on this planet hacks into the computer system of every other nation on this planet, he sees hacking as fair game.  Just part of a daily routine in the intelligence business.  If he’s able to get in, then you’re at fault for not protecting your stuff.  Pretty much the same way we feel about it.  If we keep up this hollering over this hacking issue, which in the greater scheme of things is nothing compared to what they could have exposed (they hacked a PRIVATE/ILLEGAL server of a political candidate not an election system and the DNC a private company, not public), then they might wish to expose something which might be much more damaging to us in retaliation for these sanctions. Intelligence which might actually lead to death.  I don’t think any of us would want that.  We do not need to play politics with our intelligence.

Americans be informed. Be vocal. Vote!

Deanne Rhoades

 

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