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Bret Stephens: Can Intelligence Be Intelligent? – WSJ.com
Posted By Jacob Laksin On January 13, 2010 @ 11:15 am In Political News | 4 Comments
“Intelligence,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, “is not to be confused with intelligence.” To read two recent analyses of U.S. intelligence failures is to be reminded of the truth of that statement, albeit in very different ways.Exhibit A is last week’s unclassified White House memo on the attempted bombing of Flight 253 over the skies of Detroit. Though billed by U.S. National Security Adviser Jim Jones as a bombshell in its own right, the memo reads more like the bureaucratic equivalent of the old doctor joke about the operation succeeding and the patient dying. The counterterrorism system, it tells us, works extremely well and the people who staff it are top-notch. No doubt. It just happens that in this one case, this same terrific system failed comprehensively at the most elementary levels.For contrast—and intellectual relief—turn to an unsparing new report on the U.S. military’s intelligence operations in Afghanistan. “Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy,” it begins. “U.S. intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis, and information they need to wage successful counterinsurgency.”
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