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Breakfast, not at Tiffany’s (Update)

There was plenty of Splenda thank goodness, which went well with the Japanese-style breakfast.*

CSPAN was there, but it isn’t on the site yet as far as I can tell. Additional press coverage here and here.** Chairman Hoekstra was on his game as always, and Dr. Ledeen was as gracious a host as one could have wanted.

Quick take as I draft my presentation notes (follow below) and listen to ranking member Harman rail on about what a partisan tool the AQ report is, though she is curiously silent about how the minority agreed months ago to the drafting and releasing of these reports. No news is apparently better than good news.

Granted, I can see some of the minority’s point: the committee’s job is oversight, not assessments. Frankly I find the whole idea of members focusing on this issue and not running around to chase the flail of the day to be remarkably refreshing. When there are members that can’t be bothered to read legislation the fact that they took the time to put these reports together is a nice boost of confidence. None of these reports is a groundbreaking piece of work, but they serve to remind people of the vital issues that we face. The administration ought to be taking the lead here but they’re not so instead of slamming the majority for supposedly wasting money I’d rather hear some polite applause.

This latest report in particular emphasizes the role intelligence plays in this and all future conflicts. There is no spot on the planet that we cannot bomb; the trick is finding the right spot to target. This stands in stark contrast to most past wars. The problem of course is that Iran, North Korea, all the places that we are likely to find ourselves in sticky wickets, are hard targets or denied areas. That means a lot of ambiguity in the decision-making mix. In the run up to the next battle in this global conflict, get ready for deja vu all over again.

There is some mention on reform, but I’m not in wholehearted agreement about the changes that have taken place to date. ODNI could prove to be useful, but aside from the CIO and A/DDNI OSINT I’m not hearing of any great movement forward. Consolidation, flattening, better use of technology . . . the list goes on.

We are also reminded that the current 100-yard-dash pace over this 26 mile course isn’t going to cut it. Terrorism is coming but we’re not doing things as smartly as we should. They can strike anywhere at their leisure; we can’t protect everything. AQ has a lot more light infantry to tap than they do pilots. I’m fairly confident that turning Anytown USA into Ramadi is in the cards, yet we focus on airports and stopping the last attack and starve first responders. Where is the new Civil Defense?

Employing the use of all forms of soft power is something that doesn’t get a lot of play but makes a good showing here. We need to make cooperating with us a lot more enjoyable than supporting terrorism or the breeding grounds thereof. That means getting HHS and Ag people ready to deploy (among other things).

I think I might have rambled on about one or two other things, but I’ve had it for now.

* Plenty of lox, not a bagel in sight. ;-)

** To the best of my knowledge I didn’t “blast” the DNI by name, but I did say that recycling the old-school workforce wasn’t the smartest thing in the world. It is the DC solution though, so what can you do?

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.