Intelligence Failure Revisited

How come, people are asking, our vaunted intelligence establishment didn’t foresee Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine?  For instance, Politico asks: “A range of lawmakers and intelligence community experts are puzzled about why U.S. intelligence agencies seem to have misjudged Putin’s intentions and whether the lack of warning fits a pattern of other significant intelligence shortcomings in recent years.”

How about this for an answer: Our “intelligence community” just isn’t very intelligent, especially when it comes to taking seriously the character of our adversaries.

As a reminder of the less-than-stellar record of U.S. intelligence agency predictions of aggression, take in this passage from my Age of Reagan, volume 1:

On October 5, 1973, the CIA’s daily bulletin commented on Egyptian military exercises on the west bank of the Suez canal, just across the canal from the Israeli-occupied Sinai peninsula: “The exercise and alert activities . . . in Egypt may be on a somewhat larger scale and more realistic than previous exercises, but they do not appear to be preparing for a military offensive against Israel.”  The very next day, the CIA’s daily bulletin reiterated its judgment that “For Egypt a military initiative makes little sense at this critical juncture.”  Before the ink was dry, 70,000 Egyptian troops and 800 tanks started rolling across pontoon bridges over the Suez. . .  At first, the CIA thought it impossible that they had been deceived, and reported to President Nixon that Israel must have started the fighting.

Special bonus screen capture from last week’s Time magazine:

Time Ukraine Fail copy

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.