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A question from Dana: intelligence agencies and al-Qaeda

As Top Secret America wraps up its first week, I wanted to join in here with an observation and a question.

Over the past two years, one of the most thought-provoking observations I have heard from both military and intelligence folks is this: There are probably 500 al-Qaeda members left in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. At most, the organization may have a couple thousand people worldwide.

Why do we need such a large intelligence effort---the 1,300 agencies we identified that are a part of this effort--- to defeat a couple thousand people? And why haven't our efforts been even more focused on the al-Qaeda network in the last nine years?

"Mission creep" seems to have triumphed in all but the most disciplined of organizations. These are taboo subjects for officials to discuss in public because it can so easily be interpreted as minimizing the threat (although notice that CIA director Leon Panetta said as much on a recent Sunday talk show.)

Can anyone help me out here? Is this a valid way to look at things? And why not focus almost exclusively on al-Qaeda?

I am told that the other side of the coin is getting Americans, Congress and the media (yup, that's me) to have a more realistic reaction to near-misses and even attacks as well. What do you think?

I'm looking forward to your responses in the comments section. We're seeking debate and information here, not ranting and politicizing.

By Dana Priest  |  July 23, 2010; 4:18 PM ET
 | Tags: Afghanistan, Dana Priest, Leon Panetta, Pakistan, al-Qaeda, intelligence agencies  
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First congrats on an excellent series. But despite its scale, you and Mr. Arkin have only shown us the tip of the iceberg. Obviously the IC has had growing pains to re-adjust to the asymmetric threats posed by non-national combatants where just some 3,000 or so fanatics can cause crippling harm if not thwarted.

What one would have hoped for in response to 9-11 did not occur: a systematic rebuild of HUMINT (human intelligence assets) throughout the Middle East. Instead, the government's response was to contract and acquire through the FAR (federal acquisition regulation) every physical resource imaginable, heavily weighted towards system-level "solutions" and technologies to mine data, intercept communications, etc.

The point that your series missed (no criticism intended) was the reason WHY: Our much-deprived HUMINT "assets," which take years to recruit and rely upon, did not have a "union" lobbying for re-fortifying their ranks on September 12, 2001, but defense contractors and multiple upstart corporations did; they had an apparatus in place to work the Washington system.

To be fair, it was much easier for officials in the IC to buy than to build up from scratch, and under the immediacy of the moment, never looked back. This is why, for example, TSA screeners are poorly paid and poorly treated, but new detection machines and full-body scans show up every day. There is a built-in bias towards widgets because widgets, not HUMINT, have lobbyists.

Which brings me to suggest that the next part of your series would do well to "map" contractor lobbying expenditures since 9-11. I am certain the pattern would mirror the participants' growth in IC-funded contracts. Moreover, by "outsourcing" these functions, the IC-- insulated by secrecy practices-- has de-facto hired (contrary to prohibitions against agencies doing so) the best lobbying corps in town.

When the time comes to "lead," "reform," "reign-in" (or whatever is due the) IC in the next few years, the IC will not only have a gauntlet of code-word clearances to stymie Congressional oversight, they will have an array of open-source trade associations and political donations to rely on. This is the real heresy which I feel your articles did not hit hard enough on.

Posted by: HoraceV | July 23, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm not aware of the actual size of Al-Qaida, but it is small, tribal, and insular and therefore almost impossible to penetrate using HUMINT unless Adam (Goatboy) Gadahn is working for us under deep cover. They've stopped using wireless so SIGINT is probably not effective. We are evidently monitoring calls in & out of places like Yemen. I retired from the military in 1982 and I'm not knowledgeable about all of these new entities in the government. I can say that there is a place for keeping an eye on places like Yemen, Iran, N. Korea, Burma, and yes, even Israel. Why Israel? Unlike the UK, Israel's national interests do not coincide with ours, although you would be hard pressed to find someone in government to admit this. To be fair, we should and probably are monitoring all Middle Eastern and South Asian states. Pakistan's national interests and ours are also demonstrably not the same either and we'd really like to know just how close some of their agencies are to the militants. The real question today in SIGINT is how easy/difficult it is to acquire TCP/IP packets vs telephone ATM packets. In theory, a TCP/IP packet can travel to you via any route whereas the ATM system uses virtual circuits which require taps like the one at AT&T in SF.

Posted by: TenpaDargye | July 23, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Thank you both for bringing this situation to the forefront of the American people. According to Mr. Panneta, Director of the CIA, they are looking at perhaps 100 al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan. Those figures he states on

I didn't finish listening the the second part of this video. I find the entire situation very disturbing. Your findings prove alot. With our massive military industrial complex, they still come up with excuses instead of public self reflection.

What has been successfully accomplished as a result of the response to the attacks of 911 have been an onslaught of broad-based assaults on our constitution and bill of rights. These, against the American people and America herself.

One thing that seems to never be mentioned in solving this problem is our God. We've become a Godless nation. I'm not referring to individuals. I believe we are under Divine Judgement and the statistics would seem to point in that direction. If this is in fact the case, we will not win this war on terrorism in the manner in which we have been fighting.

How much have we invested in dollars, resources and human lives in order to fight this problem? What have we solved? Yet, now we are pulling a big part from Iraq and mobilizing in Afghanistan.

The total facts regarding the causualties in Iraq are rarely mentioned. The death toll, the widows and the orphans.. which depending on whose statistics one goes off of, the range of orphans is somewhere between 3-5 million.

What are we doing I ask? What is it going to take for us to be taken by the shoulders and shook? To be brought to the reality and severity of this situation? When we are brought to our knees in self-reflection and repentance? When will the American people stop allowing ourselves to be indoctrinated into an agenda that we've been deceived into following?

We as a people have allowed this to happen. We are responsible. Tommorrow will be a new list of potential enemies. That's one thing that they've been successful at... making lists. Who makes up these lists? How many innocent American people are under watch now?

I have no doubt that I am on a list. Simply because of my 1st Amendment right to express my voice of concern... anyone who expresses an opposing view should expect to be on someone's list.

Posted by: jmr12 | July 23, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

jmr12 wrote: "I have no doubt that I am on a list. Simply because of my 1st Amendment right to express my voice of concern... anyone who expresses an opposing view should expect to be on someone's list."

If you had any idea of the volume of material that is processed by intelligence agencies on a daily basis, you'd realize that simply expressing your views about the situation is not going to land you on a target list. It is always a good thing to question our leaders, our government, our military. I too hate that we are at "war" (whatever that means) and that it's so hard to measure the progress we're making, or for that matter, to even know what the proper measures are. Full disclosure: I've worked in the intelligence community as a civilian and I've seen how lives have been saved through technology and the efforts of very smart people (although these things can't be publicized b/c of legitimate concerns that sources and methods will be compromised), and I've worked alongside some of the most dedicated people you'll ever meet. It's a massive system, no doubt. If there's one thing I would recommend it's that the higher-ups (directorate chiefs, agency directors, congress) listen more to the people working in the trenches. They're the ones who know what's really going on and who are perhaps less likely to be affected by all the political bs.

One final comment to the authors of this series: I appreciate all the work they've put into this series and that they've created an opportunity to start a conversation about needed reforms in the intelligence community. But I wish they hadn't taken such an adversarial tone -- it comes out especially in their video interviews. Gotcha journalism is an insult to all the good employees who work at these agencies.

Posted by: graphchick1 | July 23, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Great series, good question!

I don't think that this growth industry has much, if anything to do with AQ. Opportunistic folks (and there's no conspiracy here, just folks trying to make a buck) took advantage of the fear we all felt. I can't count the number of conversations I had with business development folks in the 2002-2005 time wherein I was exhorted to wrap anything I had (I'm an IT guy) in national security bunting and foist it off on the government. No one I knew felt that any of this was a legitimate response to 9/11, just a gravy train that might leave too soon.

Now, to be sure, there are a lot of folks out there that have a beef with Uncle Sam. Some legitimate, most not. And a few have the imagination and dedication to do something dangerous. But I don't think it unreasonable at all to ask why in this age of ever increasing US productivity gains, why it takes a million contractors to go after perhaps 10 thousand bad guys.

There are those among us who truly do want a security state. They have a variety of fears, ranging from stalkers would take their lives to robbers who would take their money. But we have to face up to the fact that putting a record number of our citizens in jail hasn't done much to the crime rates. (Read Freakonomics) Sure, an incarcerated felon won't commit another crime, but the incubator from whence he came will produce dozens more. The same for terrorists. We've far passed the point of diminishing returns on investment. We need to clean out the incubators with a combination of carrots and sticks. And we need to ensure that our own behavior isn't fueling the incubator's heaters. The Rule of Law is the United States' most potent weapon. We ignore that at our peril.

Ultimately though, it boils down to the 4% problem. In our increasingly close elections, push polling and scapegoat politicking coerce small minorities to vote as a bloc and can deliver elections. There hasn't been a bogeyman as effective at scaring voters since Jim Crow.

Couple this with the 21st Century's "Corporate Intelligence Complex," a recasting of the 20th's Military Industrial Complex, providing so much employment around the DC area, and you have a potent set of forces protecting the status quo.

Great reportage! Thanks for all of your hard work.

Posted by: SamC2 | July 24, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Aloha Ms. Priest,

GREAT article by you and your co-writer!

I am a retired USMCR intelligence officer and also worked counterdrug intell and antiterrorism program management. Short answer to your question is you are thinking the right way about the problem: the intelligence community is drowning in information. But the focus needed will never happen because the primary focus of the US national security/intelligence establishment is budget building to perpetuate and grow the jobs program so the relative few can benefit from the massive amounts of tax money spent -- to the detriment of the majority of Americans. The entrenched, well-funded elements of the Defense Department and intelligence community -- and the corporations that benefit from that spending -- do not really want anything to improve or to solve any problems. Fear is good for jobs, careers, and business and these elements are not about to surrender the 1 trillion dollars a year that is spent on national security (the DoD has more musicians/band members that the State Department has diplomats). You could probably write the same article 5 or 10 years from now and the problem will only be worse. (Every problem in DC has the same status and solution: "The blank is very dire/critical but we're doing great work -- but we need more money -- wash, rinse, repeat". The contributing or enabling problems are the greed and egoes of those in charge and also, that the majority of the US population does not know and, or does not care so nothing will change within the US National Security establishment. (Read "Idiot America". The majority of Americans believe Islamic extremists are actually a threat to our way of life. The average American faces much more of a threat from car accidents and cancer than terrorism. Intelligence is supposed to drive funding and requirements but it has been politicized and "moneticized". SECDEF Gates had a lot to do with falsely building the Soviet threat up 30 years ago to support Reagan's defense build up -- the more things change, the more they remain the same.)

You might say I'm not offering positive solutions so here's one: the US media need to stop feathering their own nests and believing what the "experts" tell them and need to start asking hard questions about the direction America has taken since 9/11. Who is benefiting from this direction? Why can we spend 5 billion a month or so in Afghanistan to chase 100 AQ terrorists and several thousand Taliban (according to General Jones) or 700 billion a year on defense but spending 25 billion or so to save 1 million US jobs in the auto industry or a 100 billion a year to give everyone health coverage is somehow not wise? Because the powers that be told this to the corporate media who in turn told it to the public. The media needs to stop being a tool for the entrenched interests and start asking hard questions and speaking truth to power. Otherwise, you'll just get more of the same.

Posted by: wildcolonialboy | July 24, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

You make a specious claim that all 1,300 agencies you identified in your articles are "part of the effort" to defeat a couple of thousand people. It's the kind of statement that reinforces my belief that you went about an inch deep in this project, if that deep.

Much of the Top Secret work that you identified your articles has little in anything to do with al-Qaeda. You also need to keep in mind that there are other threats out there.

In sum, what you're missing is a lot.

Posted by: editor14 | July 24, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

One of the real answers is the so-called War on Drugs. The Intel people have turned their tools towards the insides of Mexico and the US. A quick look at the number of high ranking smugglers busted and one should be able to see a pattern once used on AQ now turned inward.
Masked as a move to "protect our borders" the authorities are using Drones above our borders and probably both Mexican and American cities along with many other of the tools of war developed since 9/11.
Common sense alone would force one to ask why if we aren't doing this, aren't we ? The protection of Americans privacy has become nothing more than a illusion, even worse as your story tells, there is no real oversight. Imagine if legalization of Marijuana comes to pass in Ca., how these companies would scramble to protect/lobby the money they plan to make in the law enforcement/prison industry.

Posted by: OneCrankyDom | July 24, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I remember several months after 9/11, I received an e-mail inviting me to subscribe to a journal on homeland security. I responded by asking them if they were going to send a complementary copy to Al Qaeda so that they too could be aware of all the efforts being understaken to defeat them. It was clear right from the start that this was just going to be another exercise in Congressional pork barrel spending.

Today, we have unneeded military installations that date from World War One. We have agricultural and aviation subsidies given to profitable companies. We have doctors making $300,000 per year performing services that could be provided by an LPN making $30,000 per year.

I have been a liberal all my life, but I have reluctantly come to two conclusions, if you really want to put an end to bloated Federal spending, of which this latest exercise in homeland security is just a symptom:

First, repeal all limits on campaign contributions. Big contributors will crowd out all the thousands of little contributors. The country as a whole will be better off.

Second, enact a balanced budget amendment and place strict term limits on the members of Congress, with changes to the terms of Congressmen. The House should be elected for no more than three, four year terms and the Senate for no more than two, six year terms.

What about liberal programs? Well, if we don't rein-in Federal power and spending, there won't be any money left to have any liberal programs at all. I'd rather be able to act now, and keep at least some of these programs in something like their current form, than delay and be forced to make really deep, draconian cuts later by foreign creditors. The choice is ours. Excellent series, pointing out a symptom within a much bigger problem that threatens us all.

Posted by: stillaliberal | July 24, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

while this is a detailed piece intended to make a specific point ... there seems a far more logical reason for adding so much new infrastructure to handle the vast incoming data streams and needed new covert and logistics assets being put into place .. the need to counter an ever growing and very real national security threat.

it misses value for the reader not to add more context to our massive intel buildup and its new age architecture. the nexus of terrorists networks, or individuals with private agendas and/or potential access to WMD ( ie; from iran / north korea / pakistan ) seems not to be of great importance within this detailed piece, and is not discussed in any detail to support the reasons for intel community growth and the need for massive and ongoing analytical and logistical support to dynamic new data streams, including new and better technologies for combating this new type of global warfare. this is a complex and fluid global war, and our intel community has to be ahead of potential threats to our country, not lagging behind.

isn't the concept of redundant data and redundant analytics more understood in the context of how much damage can be done if just one of the " hundreds " of aq fanatics is allowed access to our open country through one of our porous borders? ... doesn't preventing a mass-casualty attack on our own soil justify this rapid intel growth?

has the fact that we have not been attacked in nine years been stated or understood? ... has the intel community received credit for their focus and tirelessness efforts in keeping us safe? have the many quiet ic sacrifices, or those of their contractors been appreciated?

does the public need to know the names and locations of private entities that are helping to greater secure our country? this information seems to be more beneficial to our enemies than to our own need for real security.

while you speak of a " new " geo mapping of the US, we've always had a clandestine geography since back when our intelligence community was born, this is not news. our ic serves us well, and very quietly protects us. do you suggest that an attack on our soil potentially using wmd would be better deterred by another system, if so which one?

i think that while it's justified to hold our government to account, it's also important to place these decisions into greater context, and to commend those men and women who work day and night to protect us from harm in a thoughtful way, and not look so myopically at such a complex question.

while one can appreciate the vast amount of information you have gathered, it's not understood the need to deliver this much specificity to those who may wish to do us real harm, it seems not to be giving the US or global audience who reads this story the benefit of actual context for why this intel buildup is so necessary.

saying there are " thousands, or hundreds " of al qaeda members is meaningless if even just one of them were to succeed.

Posted by: painter9 | July 24, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Very good series.

One different aspect in having so many agencies in intelligence is the turf wars so typical of bureaucracies, including in the private sector. Yes, we've got lucky sometimes, but there's got to be a better way to share info across agencies.

I'm not attacking the front-line people, but in the upper reaches of management. Let me draw an analogy: can you imagine members of a team of surgeons withholding info from each other that's critical to the patient's well-being? But that's apparently what we have in the intelligence community.

We also have the problem of erosion of liberties. After 9/11, at first I supported a strong response, but as later events unfolded, I began to reconsider. Not that I want things easy for the bad guys -- far from it. Further, I'm far from being some nut case clutching a gun demanding the stuff we hear coming out of some fringe elements.

When the post to oversee intelligence was created, I was greatly pleased, thinking, foolishly, that a single strong leader would be able to shape the agencies and people under his or her control. We see how that has worked out.

I wish the President and Congress would draw a line in the sand and tell some of the senior prima donnas to get with it -- or plain get.

Budgetary concerns have been mentioned, so let me say something about those. I would like to see the entire government switch procurement from a cost-plus basis to a performance-based system. I read the other day that our latest aircraft carrier looks set to run over $12 billion, maybe more. While I want the crews to have everything they need, is that a reasonable price?

If we reformed procurement, then we could have money to devote to the people, such as developing HUMINT assets. The technology is wonderful, and I have no doubt it's helped catch bad folks and saved good ones. But a piece of equipment can't make a judgment call.

Are we devoting too many resources towards chasing whatever remains of al-Qaeda? I don't know. (I'll leave aside any discussion of the legitimacy of our two wars for others.)

That we need an effective intelligence capability is beyond dispute. We may have pretty good capabilities now, but I think they could be better. And the people working in those agencies, especially field officers who are on the ground in some mighty unpleasant places, deserve better.

Much of this could be adapted to our military, too.

There are some interesting and thought-provoking comments here, BTW.

Posted by: MekhongKurt1 | July 24, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for your series on our government's intelligence efforts to address security issues. A good effort with many questions it poses.
I'm almost 67 now (the 43 on my U-ID). I have come to notice that security is no longer a factor in my approach to life as it once was. Sure, I still get goosebumps when I go to an Armed Forces parade or see a Blue Angels photo or even a 19 year old in uniform. In all this, however, I am more asking why all this is taking place.
When I read your series, what came to mind wasn't the enormity of the resources seeking a single needle, but as a commentor suggested, what kind of needle and how big does it have to be to qualify as a threat. What this, I think, brought to light in my own mind was just what is it we are fighting or preventing from fighting?
I don't have answers to this question. I can say that there are some things that just don't respond well to bullets". (Hunt for Red October).
Who are we fighting? I will leave my question with 2 references: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:11-13) and "He is uprooted from the shelter of his tent, And they parade him before the king of terrors." (Job 17:14) Bullets have no effect on such as these.
Are we fighting men or are we wrestling with higher powers. If all we're doing is wasting people, aren't we fighting a useless effort with no real outcome...we will always have this just as mankind always has had. Perhaps this is the rationale behind the notion of providing fo the common defence.
So, in conclusion, I don't purport to know anything about intelligence matters (A lot of the time I question my own and whether I really have any at all) but I do have questions when I think of our collective intelligence and its purpose.
If our efforts are guided by money, then your article may suggest that money may be the biggest threat we face and it is coming from within with the whitewashed face of "patriotism".

Posted by: epespinoza43 | July 24, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Re the 1300, that's a construct of WaPo's creation, I'm afraid. There are 17 depts and agencies in the IC, and they have many layers, org compartments, and locations. Saying "1300 agencies" distorts and throws people off the scent of the core problem.

They are not all focused on AQ because the threat "matrix" contains hundreds of other threat sources. Other terrorist groups, a few nation states, and other entities.

You know better than most of us the #1 reason the focus has not been more on AQ: Iraq and other Bushian strategic errors and colossal mismanagement.

When you refer to mission creep, you immediately cross the blurry line from IC to homeland security. That is a bottomless pit that the govies and contractors are very happy to wallow in. And, yes, the proportions are all wrong -- we have aircraft and airports covered, but maritime less so, industrial facilities (chem plants, for example), and financial services (cyber vulnerability) hardly at all. The death and suffering from hitting these alone would dwarf a Twin Towers attack occurring every decade or two. Industry pushes back heavily on what the government/public interest requires to keep us safe.

Some official with platinum guts, or perhaps a highly credible media person, can lead the penetration of the "minimizing-the-threat" barrier or third rail.

Consider how we have vastly recalibrated the national pain and suffering. In Vietnam, we lost an average of 26 KIA per day, yes, per day. In our current twin wars, KIAs have been at the rate of about one KIA every day. And the latter gets more notice than the continuing KIAs and killing that occurred in Vietnam for years.

So there is far greater sensitivity to US self-centered loss (and persistent lack of concern for civilian collateral damage). It is as powerful as anything else that gives license to, and spurs on, the sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing government and contractors to ignore waste and abuse of the taxpayers and the national interest.

This is the terrible national sacrifice that Bush and Obama will not acknowledge, as all the other needed government spending gets put on hold.

Posted by: axolotl | July 24, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Dana Priest has asked a fundamental question- one that many have asked since the invasion of Iraq and relegation of Afghanistan to an 8 year-long back burner.

Why, indeed, overwhelming "mission creep" to defeat what has already been defeated? Authorities agree there are only a couple hundred Al Queda left in the entire theatre of action. Why not look where they are? In Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, Indonesia, central Asia, to name a few.

An obvious answer exists:

It is NOT to defeat and deny Al Queda so-called "refuge" to attack our allies and us that we are in Afghanistan. Neither is Al Queda the reason we invaded Iraq, supported by fantasies such as WMD, yellow-cake, "terrorist links", etc. Nor is it "mission creep" into some idealistic nation building, installing democracy American-style, defeating Taliban "allies" of Al Queda.

The reasons are clear...

Iraq: Perhaps the world's largest, virtually untapped OIL reserves. Plus, block Russian control of them, other Middle East oil fields and warm water ports for export.

Afghanistan: Natural gas pipeline to blunt Russian domination of supply lines to Europe.
Plus Afghani strategic mineral deposits.

Neither the previous nor present administrations will discuss this. Is it any wonder?


Posted by: bobbeadle | July 24, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse


"Who are we fighting? I will leave my question with 2 references: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:11-13) and "He is uprooted from the shelter of his tent, And they parade him before the king of terrors." (Job 17:14) Bullets have no effect on such as these.
Are we fighting men or are we wrestling with higher powers. If all we're doing is wasting people, aren't we fighting a useless effort with no real outcome...we will always have this just as mankind always has had. Perhaps this is the rationale behind the notion of providing for the common defence."

beautiful and right on target. worth reposting on behalf of the message. thank you.

Posted by: jmr12 | July 24, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

honestly, this article is equivalent to digital used toilet paper. It has ZERO content on the oversight roles of congress and the extensive engagements that take place to justify agency budgets and spending. It makes it seem like its madness and uncontrolled spending to waste money.

So let's talk a bit about numbers. 700 billion was given to banks as bailout, compare the budget numbers for our entire fighting forces and intel agencies to that... Also, as a member of one of the IC organizations, I can't help but to laugh at the fact there are more employees in the Foxwoods Casino than our organization.
Also, the TS community represents .29% of the us population. That's .29% dedicated to the security of the nation... So the other 99.7% can sleep soundly knowing that there are people working 24/7, 7 days a week on behalf of national security.

The American people deserve to know information about their tax dollars without a doubt, but give them something worth reading. This is article is a very limited view of what goes on from a process perspective with oversight, budgets, congressional inquiries, etc. That information is publicly available as well but it negates the core message that the writers/editors wanted to convey with their sensationalizing of the articles content. Also, its borderline plagiarism as most of this has been published already but they don't give good citing for their work...

My fellow Americans, you've been provided an article that fails to deliver a full perspective of what exists as "information" to provide the full picture. Claiming two years of investigative research is tragic as you pretty much could google all the content and find it without a "team of reporters". Hold the Washington Post accountable for their poor performance. A simple question to ponder, why didn't they interview any elected official on the oversight committees to provide a perspective on the oversight processes in place for the IC?

Posted by: ELVISP777 | July 24, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Once an AQ- ALWAYS an AQ? I don't think so.

Try - how many human beings are in Afghanistan ?

Then ask who are we killing and why.

Why do we assign a name- Camille Paglia says in the West- to name is to know, to know is to control.

Once we assign a name - now an acronym ? Then what ?

Phil Mudd - former deputy director of CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center says there ARE no terrorists- he's studied AQ since it's inception - he points out it's self collapsing and he's got a bag of popcorn - just sit back and wait.

WELL worth watching.

Phil is the man.

Don't buy into this ultra-seriousness tone here.

I like his comment- that he's more concerned for his niece about gangs and drug related violence in the US.

Funny how all that heroin in the US comes from Afghanistan- but AQ has nothing to do with heroin- indeed, AQ has NOTHING to do with heroin - in fact? US PAYS the drug lords- such that gas ends up costing $400 a gallon- for safe transport of troops to catch those pesky AQ.

Give me a break.

Maybe if US corporate oil interests weren't parading over Islamic holy grounds ? Maybe there wouldn't BE ANY TERRORISM.

Funny how OIL and TERROR continually show up together- look at BP with Lockerbie.

BUT THAT's a rather complex story- better go ask Buck- former assistant to the FBI why he called the tarmat and told his daughter to take herself AND her husband off of that flight- to date? No congressional inquiry for that.

Gee- what did Buck know ?

Word is CIA did that one.

Tim Miltz

Posted by: SvetylanaOllieNorth | July 24, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

By the way folks - regarding the c-span coverage of former deputy director of CIA CTC?

If you do not have the full 1 hour - 19 minutes or so - PLEASE do jump to 45 minutes in - shortly past 45 minutes - It is a powerful message.

A few minutes beyond that he professes- do NOT call these people Jihadists- or Terrorists- etc, call them what they are punk murderers - and I agree 100%.

This particular opportunity to listen to Phil I do say- has been highly cathartic.

Now, after watching Phil- ask yourself why FOx News continually tries to create and prop up these phony titles and groups - well- the answer is they are seeking a response - NOT entirely unlike recruiting purposes as Phil points out- where kids are shown some videos - then told some stories- and the high school students or college students then go - hey - we need to stand up and do something about that- at any expense... I find Bush and Fox BOTH ran this game.

Bush has just ALL but disappeared- but Fox continues to use their corporate front with the CNN software they bought that INSTANTLY made them look like the 700 club on steroids - I am left to wonder what group USES this corporate media presence- and WHY...

Where is Natalie Holloway- (emotional manipulation) followed by Ollie North's War Time Stories - (more emotional manipulation as Ollie gets up that lump in your throat- then SLAM SMACK directs your attention to whatever cause he needs you to carry that emotional trajectory to).

Thanks Phil -

Your not #3 in my book - #1.

May you enjoy sleeping in until 11am- you deserve a good long break.

I am shell shocked your voice was drowned out during the Bush era- I imagine you must have had to turn to Prilosec ! OH well- not a perfect world- but certainly a better world with your contributions if you ask me.

Tim Miltz

Posted by: SvetylanaOllieNorth | July 24, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

56:20 is GOLDEN too- "Don't trust the Brits"


I'm not kidding.

Seems Fox though will never let go of connecting Islam to terror until they destroy the religion - WHY is that ?

Fox has ZERO Islamic contributors or employees come to think of it.

Gee- wonder why that is.

STRANGE division of humanity by Fox. Strange indeed.

Tim Miltz

Tonight I watch a movie called Westworld from the 1970's looks interesting - JK JK -

Posted by: SvetylanaOllieNorth | July 24, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous military spending brought down most previous empires such as Athens. Keep digging and lets see how expensive all that Top Secret America can be.

Posted by: bailoutnation | July 24, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

PART 1 of 2
Why hasn't a huge effort defeated a couple of thousand Al Qa'eda terrorists and their supporters in the limited region of Afghanistan and cross-border in Pakistan?

There has been no high understanding of the passion and thoughts of terrorists. Much is known by the professional experts, but they are lower and are not the decision makers, their views do not correct the judgments of those at the top; instead those at the top correct downwards, editing out what they do not like or do not agree with. Money and armies are thrown at the problem with no thought that there is no regular army to fight. People with extremist ideas are not identifiable by a uniform, but only by their whispers in the dark, a knife in the night, an explosive impact. Against a people that are willing to die for their cause, an army can only win if it slaughters everyone, men, women and children. This no democratic army is willing to do; so they cannot win as they cannot match the will of the enemy who has no qualms about killing the young, the old and the innocent in many devious ways, even if they are fellow Moslems.

The HUMINT assistance to a solution has not been fully utilized as it is simply too hard to find sufficient qualified people who can undertake the dangerous task. So the advanced technology method predominates. When you have only electro-mechanical resources, like they were rocks, you throw rocks, when there is an endless supply. However the landscape of war has changed and stoning is no longer a whole or final solution to the problems of nations and societies.

Posted by: Tower7 | July 25, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

PART 2 of 2
At present there is a lull in terrorist attacks on the U.S.A. A lull, not meaning that there have been none, but the few attacks have either not been well executed or they have been foiled by intelligence agencies outside of public view. There is only so much damage that terrorists can do with civil or military explosives, killing thousands at most. The existence of the tree that fell in the forest, that you did not hear fall, can be disputed as to existing at all. It does not disturb much everyone's daily routine in vast mega-societies.

That can change, as the lull before the storm. Surprise attacks have a high success rate. America has been surprise-attacked by enemies that it had at least an inkling of, such as with Pearl Harbor, WTC 1993/ 2001. Terrorists need to first switch their methods and weapons into the realm of WMD, nuclear or biological, before they can effectively cripple the West. So we lie in the quiet zone, the lull before the storm. A trench wrapped in the mists of naivety, where those who are truly smart are weeded out from the stupid. It may eventuate that terrorists don't have to buy WMD on the black market, nor steal them, nor beg them from North Korea. They may get them 'legally' by the democratic voting of masses in fear, or the revolutionary takeover of any Moslem nation that has nuclear reactors and nuclear missiles. They can inherit them from their former moderate Moslem colleagues. Afghanistan is not much of a prize in that regard, but Pakistan is. Explosives are a problem, but their damage can be absorbed. In this lull of miniature terrorist attacks there is no problem. When they transfer to WMD acquisition there will be no solution. Securing nuclear and biological material needs top priority and also research into methods of nullifying the effects when such demons from the genie's bottle are unleashed.

We will no longer need to construct movies about our Science-Fiction nightmares of high-tech armies locked in battle with barbarians on a ruined world, such threats can come to be our daily life. And Mars and Earth can then share a devastated landscape, sister planets, two tombstones encircling their star. Promises of being that were never honored. The fantasy monster war-games that children play on computers, we can play for real.

Posted by: Tower7 | July 25, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

The number of Al Qaeda hardcore leaders is not and has never really ever been the issue in my opinion.

The power struggle between religious and government in Muslim countries is decades old, since the founding/creation of most of them at least in the Middle East (end of colonialism). The people are on the side of fundamentalism in large part because their leaders have given nothing to live for and the "religious" give them food and comfort.

This is what the Western World is facing, hundreds of millions of hopeless people, mostly under 30, without work (so not able to marry) in dictatorships who can only save themselves by blaming the West.

Not so far from the "Western/Christian" world from the Middle Ages to the 20th century religious/ideological/social-economic situation and in European countries during the 30's when religion was replaced by national socialism.

Posted by: sally62 | July 25, 2010 4:42 AM | Report abuse

Good cspan video on Phillip Mudd's insight into the area of terrorism.

One thing that I question is his reason for retirement. It was kept quiet for a few months & is still unclear. This came about the same time that the cia deputy director Steve Kappes retired.

Both of these guys were on the front lines regarding the torture that was going on within the CIA. A situation that I feel only touches the surface in terms of how they are acquiring intelligence information. I'm still addressing the issue with Black Ops in the area of human experimentation, torture & psy-ops. I've noted this elsewhere. I'm a subject.

So, Phil sounded good, but something didn't sit right with me. I slept on it and it came to me this morning.

Maybe his retirement had nothing to do with Steven's.. and maybe it had nothing to do with the attorney general's investigation into these torture programs. But they may well be related.

Since he was also working with the FBI, was he working with the FBI when these tortures taking place? According to the FBI, they were not conducting torture.

During the end of this interview he was asked if this was all worth it in terms of the damage that we've caused around the world. He had a great deal of trouble responding to this answer. basically, he said that it was.. but went around that tree a few times.

Sorry Phil, if you read this. I have an entirely different perspective on things.

Posted by: jmr12 | July 25, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Priest:
You have done America a great service with this series. This discussion is desperately needed. You ask above a key question: "I am told that the other side of the coin is getting Americans, Congress and the media (yup, that's me) to have a more realistic reaction to near-misses and even attacks as well. What do you think?

Here's my thinking: I was ready the morning after the 9/11 attack to get right back onto air-flights and proceed with my life. As FDR said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. We citizens have chosen to allow our leaders to address our fears by assuming that we are very, very afraid of anything that might go "boo", let alone "bang". We have not challenged that assumption--even though I realize there are many citizens who want protection against every possible threat against every individual person. How can 1,500 of them harm 300 million of us?--I'm personally less safe on the highway!! This is crazy-- and you have illustrated the cost of such an unrealistic endeavor. This Nation needs a discussion on national security, similar to our debates about health-care: what do we need/want, and what are we rationally willing to pay for. The nation's interests-- think infrastructure, banking, utilities, etc. If one of the Jihadi-extremists kills me in an attack, that has no consequence to our national interests-- except to breed fear. NO FEAR-- carry on, and thanks for you outstanding work.

Sincerely, Country Doctor

Posted by: wangerud | July 25, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

add to the previously mentioned retirements...

CIA's National Clandestine Service. Michael Sulick

Posted by: jmr12 | July 25, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Arthur M. Cummings - executive assistant director for the FBI’s National Security Branch retired in April 2010 as well.

Posted by: jmr12 | July 25, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

One last thought and I'm through.

Is Eric Holder finished with the torture investigation & will anyone be charged?

Posted by: jmr12 | July 25, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

19 poorly trained fanatics armed with box knives attacked the largest super power in the history of the world on 9/11 bringing the entire airline industry to a halt,changing the way we do almost everything . We have a war raging on two fronts,we are losing some of our finest men and women,no money to pay for any of it and osoma bin laden still remains at large. It is no surprise that between 1500 and 2000 stone age thinking fanatics are the giant threat we face. Why don't we recruit 1500 to 2000 of our own fanatics to hunt them down and exterminate them. We continue to fight fleas with elephant guns and wonder why it is so hard to get rid of them without shooting ourselves.

Posted by: pergy | July 25, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

The US government is literally killing you and your loved ones.

Please read the following blog and join the revolution to change our goverment:

Posted by: brian464 | July 25, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Disrupt those who promote & participate in violent extremism. Especially those who are routinely involved in the rape & torture of innocent civilians... including children. All of them believe their cause & agenda is the right one & warrants such behavior.

One thing common about all terrorists is their weapon of fear and intimidation. Always.

I'd say not to be afraid, but that's cruel advice when you're being gang raped and tortured.

Posted by: jmr12 | July 25, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Priest, You have done a great service to your country by shining the light of reason on the "Long War". In answer to your question..."Why not focus solely on AQ"?

The answer...AQ has been defeated and on the run in the hinterlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan for many years. In fact, the low level of sophistication in recent attempts by "known associates" of AQ are proof that the organization of the late 1990's and early 20th century is no longer a functional international organization. We have truly already won that war.

The simpler answer enemy, no war. So, AQ lives on as a percieved threat to justify the military infrastructure needed to field an army of military experts with the objective of locating and eliminating threats to the global status quo established in the post-WWII era.

What the current IC community is really doing today is creating the computer infrastructure to go after organized criminal narco-terror groups who are funding the off-shoot organizations styling themselves after AQ. Moreover, the IC develops threat profiles to identify other potential global threats.

The most likely candidates for such a credible threat profile includes nation states with the ability to procure nuclear materials and deliver them with precision and accuracy. That is a game changer.

It is an overwhelming task for the 0.29% of the US population who are mythically worshipped or universally hated while ensuring the security of the other 99.71%, and, indeed, the security of the world. It is a truly thankless job accomplished in obscurity and, if done properly, in total secrecy.

The IC ensures that the means of mass production of materials harmful to human activity remain in the hands of a very, very small group of people on earth. That makes the task of locating the person/persons responsible for a rogue WMD (the much more credible threat to human activity over the long term) much easier to detect and eliminate (military code for kill).

What is not mentioned in your article is that fact that most IC contractors are former CIA Case Officers and military officers who view protocol as a hindrance to their duties. The Bush administration basically "took the dog off the leash".

I would encourage the DNI to put protocols in place for these elements of the IC as well as budgetary oversight mechanisms to enforce them. That doesn't neccesarily mean Congressional oversight, internal review groups passed over for promotion within the IC will be much more efficient at locating the errors and recommending appropriate behaviorial interventions.

Again, well done Ms. Priest.


Posted by: aaprime | July 25, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Priest,
In response to your question, I would strongly urge you and the WP team to use similar investigative tools and sources to discern the major cause for the exponential growth in "Top Secret America": the belief that the events on 9/11/ were caused by al-Qaeda hijackers.
One place I would suggest you begin is to investigate why Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapsed, even though it had not been hit by a plane.
Thank you.

Posted by: skyblue18 | July 25, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Priest,
In response to your question, I would suggest you and the WP team use similar investigative tools and sources to discern the major cause for the exponential growth in "Top Secret America": the belief that the events on 9/11/01 and the thousands of deaths and related injuries were accomplished by 19 individuals

Posted by: skyblue18 | July 25, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Because AQ, Haqqani Network, Al-Shabab, are not the only enemies we face/fear There are unforeseen (or perceived) threats from the former communist bloc, Iran, DPRK, China, etc. Due to fear of the unforeseen forces aligned against the USA, we expend vast amounts of resources. And, it's the reason we have such a large network of intel agencies worldwide.

Could AQ have aligned itself with our former adversary during the cold war? Has AQ, Hezbollah, Al-Shabab, Haqqani Network, etc; become allies of certain sovereign nations who find gratification in the downfall of the American Empire? They may relish the fact we are bleeding/spending our national wealth - especially during a time of national economic uncertainties.

Posted by: Jufem2 | July 25, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I find it odd that liberals think that Al Qaeda is our only security issue. Long before Al Qaeda was ever utter and long after the last Al Qaeda operative is dead the USA is still wise to have a strong intelligence community. The simplistic idea that our only concern is or should be either Osama Bin Laden and or Al Qaeda is laughable. Yet liberals seem to be so short sighted and so close minded and so pathetically fixated on just one tree in a forrest that is comes a no surprise that Dana Priest and all of the liberal world will be found barking up the wrong tree yet again.

Posted by: KMichaels | July 26, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I spent years analyzing the war in Sri Lanka, beginning when I spent 18 months there as a volunteer in '93. I was baffled as to why, if the conflict was as simple as it was portrayed (Tamils vs. Sinhalese) they could not seem to end it. I eventually learned that it was not at all simple: each side's real enemy was not the other side, but a competing group within its own supposed constituency. The LTTE struggled against the traditional Tamil leadership and caste system, while two groups of Sinhalese, the traditional leadership structure and the trading class, used the war to jockey for control of the country.

My first rule of conflict analysis has never failed me: "It's never about what they say it's about." And the second is pretty reliable, too: there is usually a hidden enemy that is different than the public enemy. Al Queda's fight is not really with the U.S.-- its goals are much closer to home. Likewise the Powers That Be in the U.S. are interested primarily in more power, not Al Queda. Information is power, and they have an increasing amount of it.

Why do we need over a million people to catch a couple of thousand extremists? We don't. Rather, Al Queda provided the excuse to create a massive information-gathering system. We may remember Nixon's "enemies list," but this magnitudes greater in scope.

Liberals like to blame this on President Bush. But President Obama hasn't backed away from the culture of fear-mongering. He has maintained the various intelligence agencies, voted for and continues to support the Patriot Act, REAL-ID, etc. It's not about parties, it's about the elite remaining the elite.

When they passed the Patriot Act, I commented to my wife that if what the terrorists hate about us is our freedom (which is of course an oversimplification that doesn't hold water) then the terrorists have already beaten us because we're surrendering our freedom at an alarming rate. I suspect that, ultimately, the enemy our government seeks to control is us.

Posted by: Jackrabbit60 | July 26, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

JMR12 wrote:

One last thought and I'm through.

Is Eric Holder finished with the torture investigation & will anyone be charged?

Posted by: jmr12 | July 25, 2010 3:15 PM |

end paste:

jmr12 - my take is this is - Abu Ghraib first !

This one can be handled - except the problem IS the DOJ is at the CORE OF the investigation for allowing Monica Goodling to choose Lane McCotter - perhaps the most notoriously inhumane prison warden in the history of the US.

But as to CIA torture ? Same with Abu Ghraib- what WASN'T RELEASED by wiki ? was held back for a reason - and that reason is - it would simply cost lives- period.

Myself ? I don't think we have the right to DO those things to another human being.

Under ANY circumstances.

It's all those damned icicles I tell ya !

How to move forward is PROBABLY the key - airing the sheets from the Ariana hotel in Kandahar is necessary.

Changing the sheets on those mattresses at the Salt pit is necessary.

Catharsis needs to play out in Afghanistan-

I like this line I saw from Rosemary Reuther lately - "Regarding the holocaust (let us equate that with torture here), certainly invoking compassion for the victims is one stage of catharsis (ok ok - I'm SERIOUSLY changing the wording here I can see), but sorrow for the victimizers is necessary too"

I REALLY should just go look the quote up - I think it was in The Wrath of Jonah I observed that- don't recall ! augh!

HOW to move forward is all I'm interested in.

As UNJUST as it MAY BE ? for the Department of Justice NOT to investigate itself ? or carry on further with CIA tortures ? I do say- I'm singing a new tune lately- and that is to move forward.

And let it go.

Sounds terribly complacent.

Awaking the world with the details of what Goss THINKS is destroyed ? I'm not sure would benefit anyone - HOWEVER - I DO think the US COULD make some SERIOUS compensation payouts to the families of those that had to endure.

But money doesn't solve everything - MUCH of the time I find.

IF THAT could be done IN private ? I'd settle for that -

It's so uprooting to dig up some very dark sides to humanity - I can't BELIEVE I'm saying this ? but as to the CIA tortures - it may be best to move on and let it rest. This can be said equally as to adversarial 'dark' ops as well... I for one have plans to stay in the garden much longer these days- as small as mine is ! I DO Disagree with Phil Mudd as to whether it was worth it - I do not think gains outweigh losses, UNLESS you close out the US CIA as and end game move - then I'd say - sure - it was worth it.

Tim Miltz

Posted by: InvestigateCountryWideAndPaulson | July 27, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Was too long, so I broke it into 2.

In answer to your question though Dana -

I think it is Over KILLING and Over kill.

I saw a Pakistani analyst the other day say - he had to be 70 (he's probably going - hey hey - that's not nice), but he goes "How many people are you going to kill to try and catch this Osama Bin Laden - every time we lose a local citizen here - an innocent bystander - it just fuels a reaction to fight you".

US is chasing it's own shadow if you ask me.

I've sorted out that terror is really ? an abstracted fabrication.

I like Phil Mudd's observation where he says - whatever you do - DO NOT call these people Jihadists- they are not - do NOT call them Terrorists- they are not - CALL them what they are PUNK MURDERERS.

THAT said ? I guess US Intel just squandered a boatload to go find some punk murderers in Afghanistan and now we have robots in Paki (drones) taking out more people.

Maybe the US CIA Should rent out the drones for online game play ! my god - ok ok - you said NO rant Dana - I'll try and respect that.

Seriously - it 'misses the mark' to attempt to 'group' together people where no such group really exists- as Phil says - it's not a movement - it's not a group - it's more like a piece of fabric. I personally carry that further to say the entire persona of terrorism we've engaged in - highly propelled by Bush - and the Bush Goss CIA - is that I say terror is MORE than just an abstract noun as stated by Johns Hopkins - it's a FABRICATION of far more basic human events and motives.

Posted by: InvestigateCountryWideAndPaulson | July 27, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

I observe Fox News crossing a thin line now- Gretta calling the Drug carriers from Mexico - getting a two for one special on immigration and - well- that's just it - now they're entertaining (wrong word all in all) using the term 'terrorist' for the drug carriers.

The term is dangerously unbound to any one specific concrete characteristic or feature of a human being.

So, are there murderers in Afghanistan? they're everywhere- nothing special there.

Are people in Afghanistan plotting to attack the United States? If we leave - probably not - if we stay ? we'll provoke locals to the point they'll try to send us another message to get out.

Honestly ? I blame corporate oil pursuits for the baseline interruption in the lives of the people of the Middle East.

I'd still like to know why Israel fired on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967- that sounds like terror to me ! OK OK I'm ranting- I best go.



and I see NO gains from the entire theater of ops ever since General Tommy Franks went down to the Bush ranch to slam some Margharitas (I don't drink hard alcohol, in fact, I don't even drink anymore - day FOUR in YEARS today- I pushed DOJ so hard recently I realized - I can't afford to drink anymore- I had a BUI - a BLOGGING While under the influence as I'm calling it) and carved up the plans to go INTO Afghanistan.

SHARP photo Dana !

SERIOUS -and I see caution in there - and no doubt sense of humor ! Maybe I'm projecting !

Tim Miltz

GREAT PIECE - I bet you get a Pulitzer !

Posted by: InvestigateCountryWideAndPaulson | July 27, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

One IMPORTANT Message from PHil Mudd though ? is:

AQ is self collapsing -

To that? One could derive there is NO need for US presence in Afghanistan.

I'm a big fan of David Bohm - his Thought as a System book got me thinking !

But I derive from THAT - failed thinking systems fail.

From a criminal who discovers this -

to a department of intelligence for any given nation state (Afghanistan)

to a nation state with misguided foreign policy riding on misguided intel from the former sentence above ! (Iraq)

I fear the US may be received as morally bankrupt before other nations run from our currency when Moody's downgrades us this year.

Fox may be able to prey on citizens IN the US and exploit their attention span - but you leave the US ? It AIN'T PRETTY FOLKS !

I need David Bowie to rewrite - I'm afraid of Americans - to "I'm afraid to BE an American"

Posted by: InvestigateCountryWideAndPaulson | July 27, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Sure - we did WHAT? again in Iraq and Afghanistan ? such that I don't feel I can travel safely - I can't walk down the streets of Kandahar without wondering -will someone transgress against me JUST BECAUSE I'm NOT in a uniform - and I'm an American ? I'm sure some psychiatrist would say "why - that's all in your head tim, that's paranoia - here - take some Xanax, or here - have an anti-psychotic that will really tranquilize you and get you some sleep"

I USED to present THIS case to demonstrate how SANE going into Iraq OR Afghanistan was:

Man walks into a psychiatrist office- says "The terrorists- they're going to nuke a US city for sure"

Doctor gets out the DSM III stops at the 390.x's

Now, Dick Cheney said this same thing.

Justifying WHY we needed to go to Iraq.

The FORMER person gets an anti-psychotic

the nation state though ? get's FULL BLOWN PSYCHOSIS FROM Cheney's trajectory on foreign policy.

Now, of COURSE Western psychology follows the Newtonian Cartesian paradigm that says- anything outside of reason is pathological- so, sure - BUT ...

Yes Dana- WAY TOO MANY people- I'm SURE Whackenhut is FINE with the cash they're raking in - the DoD contractors are cashing in - no doubt. No Bid too at the beginning- I pick Whackenhut because they are the bottom of the barrel - DynCorp dances CIRCLES around them as to at LEAST quality of personnel.

Let us ask - WOULD the DoD contractors have done this Pro Bono ? If not ? I'd say it wasn't necessary.

Military should PROBABLY be VOLUNTEER ONLY as a TEST for a nation state's integrity.

hmm- I kind of like that - but I'm ranting again - I just don't get out much- except at the grocery ! Oh those poor people in the aisles ! No, I keep it to light chit chat ! no worries !

some woman picks up a head of cabbage -Tim goes "So, what do you think about the CIA's blood stained sheets in the Ariana Hotel in Kandahar"

No, NEVER anything like - more like "I can't BELIEVE the price of a bag of lettuce now, it's like $3.89 for 12 oz - is it demand increasing ? or dollar falling ?" MORE like that. I always depart in a smile usually

ok ok - I need to not visit this thread anymore I'm clearly ranting - I'm off target - but so is the IS DoD, DOS, CIA, DOJ, DIA and White House foreign policy to STAY in Afghanistan.

We REALLY should be offering returning soldiers the SKY test for FREE- Saddam GOT his red mercury FROM the hills of Afghanistan- and there is no telling how much more exists. 3 billion from the US CIA goes a LONG WAY back in 87.

600 Million went a LONG WAY in 86 as well in Afghanistan -

86 was a GOOD year - I turned 18 in 86- and finally learned how to get out of the University computer center after 10 years of fun fun fun ! no doubt.

Tim Miltz

hmm - now, let's see what US DoD thinktankers were ALWAYS down in the basement in those years - hmm - bah-

Hey - anyone seen Porter Goss ?

Posted by: InvestigateCountryWideAndPaulson | July 27, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm off to sleep -was closing window on main page- Hey Dana - your pic has the PERFECT balance of someone with optimism and concern at the same time- I don't see that too often - I respect the concern side- but hey- GREAT PIECE HERE - I think it advances any conversation about just what resources the United States is devoting to protectionism and I think you have aggressive focus on the WHY part- or - IS IT TOO MUCH ? or - What are we getting for it - Perhaps in 2020 - hmm- just occurred to me all the jokes the year 2020 will bring - as in 2020 hindsight- but perhaps in the year 2020 -we'll look back and have a much clearer idea- but your offering here to seek dialog on this subject of US intel- what's the cost - what are the gains ? what are the losses ? what's the cost of not doing X, Y or Z etc ? Is absolutely necessary for ANY mild catharsis journalism can bring to any culture or society.


Tim Miltz

Wish ya the best- I LACK constructive criticism skills- so I'm ENVIOUS of you heh - or anyone really when I run into them - know em to spot em - and you got em.

Perfect growth for me would be to exorcise - wrong word- abandon ? perhaps ? or OUTGROW perhaps - at age 42- destructive criticism - which - well- I'm on day 4 of not drinking in YEARS - easily 20 plus years alcoholism - counting on NOT ever falling back into that- but you have a few 8.1 or 9.4 % microbrews- or 6 or 8 or 10 ? Destructive criticism flows a bit easier- I no longer want to be that person...

I need to move forward and FAST.

Posted by: InvestigateCountryWideAndPaulson | July 27, 2010 5:12 AM | Report abuse

"Can anyone help me out here? Is this a valid way to look at things? And why not focus almost exclusively on al-Qaeda?"

The first Bin Laden reaction to 9/11 was on 9/29/01: "I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle. ...I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed. According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the U.S. Government has stated. But the Bush Administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the U.S. system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be anyone, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the U.S. itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction.

When asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden’s Most Wanted web page, [Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI] said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”

The "bin Laden" who finally "confessed" to 9/11 wasseen on video made Nov 9th,2001 and has the wrong beard color,and his views and health are inconsistent with those of the real bin Laden. Also, if the 11/9/01 videeo was a true bin Laden confession then why didn't he attribute 9/11 to avenging the suffering of Muslims, especially since America was attacking the country in which he was living?

To look at the root of the explosion of the IC community in the US (and subsequent expansion of police state apparatus), one needs to get to the bottom of 9/11. The endless forensic miracles which pinned the event on a couple dozen unsophisticated, poorly trained individuals must be examined. The sanitization under the cloak of secrecy of the 9/11 crime scene must be investigated. The hard science that defies the 9/11 Commission's "findings" must be examined,including the indentification of nano-thermite particles in WTC dust (see Danish Journal of Open Physics), as well as the professional societies (airline pilots,and structural engineers and architects)who cast grave doubt on the government report conclusions. The story you seek is under your nose in DC. Good luck.

Posted by: nardami | July 28, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The point of the article is that the amount of intelligence our security apparatus collects is so massive that it is actually making us less safe. I'm not sure how this can be viewed as somehow unpatriotic.

Posted by: nickthap | July 29, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

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