OODA OriginalUncategorized

Politics or P*** Poor Performance?

Recent U.S. intelligence analyses of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs were flawed and the lack of clarity on the issue hampered U.S. diplomatic efforts to avert the underground blast detected Sunday, according to Bush administration officials.

Some recent secret reports stated that Pyongyang did not have nuclear arms and until recently was bluffing about plans for a test, according to officials who have read the classified assessments.

The analyses in question included a National Intelligence Estimate a consensus report of all U.S. spy agencies produced several months ago and at least two other classified reports on North Korea produced by senior officials within the office of the Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte.

The officials said there were as many as 10 failures related to intelligence reporting on North Korean missile tests and the suspected nuclear test that harmed administration efforts to deal with the issue.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. The obvious answer is a pre-emptive strike against any potential political games coming from inside the IC after we leave a few smoking holes in the NK landscape. I’ll leave that discussion aside for now.

More importantly I think it should demonstrate to anyone and everyone that because we don’t know a whole lot about what is going on behind Kim’s curtain we’re probably going to be making some bad pol-mil decisions in the near future. I mentioned this on the tube and in a previous post: we don’t do hard targets very well. Do we try hard enough? Given the propensity to avoid long-term, risk-heavy activities I’d submit that we do not. If that’s the best we’re going to do then the result is that we force ourselves to make decisions with more “unknown unknowns” than we should.

On whom should we affix blame? The analysts can only work with the data they have and as stated previously they don’t have much; the DO mandarins, who didn’t get to where they are by getting PNG’ed; the Executive who doesn’t provide sufficient motivation and topcover; or the Representatives who stand ready to sacrifice the former and lambaste the latter no matter what the outcome?

Update: Spook86 prefers the obvious route (can’t say I blame him).

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.