Greetings Fiscal Cliff Dwellers! By the time you read this there will be less than two weeks before automatic sequestration cuts take effect - - - a week of which the Congress will be in recess! What was meant to be a “poison pill” to force the legislative and executive branches to compromise on rational budgets so the government could reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years now appears inevitable. Since January we have been fed a steady stream of increasingly dire consequences from Navy aircraft carriers not deploying, to Army readiness declining, to Air Force airpla
Unless we are existing in a weird parallel universe, the Mayan’s were clearly wrong about the world ending last month, but the National Intelligence Council’s “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” does warn the U.S.
Given the unknowns about whether the world will end on 21 December as foretold by the Mayan Calendar or if the US government will find itself mired at the bottom of “Fiscal Cliff Washington” come New Year’s Day, any discussion about what will hold the Intelligence Community’s (IC) attention in 2013 seems premature. However, despite the notoriety of both of these “black swans,” I remain unabashedly optimistic the Mayan Astrologers have miscalculated and that the IC can muddle through 2013 on $65 billion even if most of it is borrowed money.
My initial intent was to discuss with you the intelligence related issues associated with the September 11th Benghazi attack and offer my views on the proceedings of AFCEA’s Fall Intelligence Symposium that focused on the importance of implementing the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE, pronounced “eye sight”). This train of thought, however, was jarringly interrupted Friday (9 Nov) afternoon with the mind bending announcement that the President had accepted (reluctantly) David Patraeus’ resignation as CIA Director because of an extra-marital affair with h
Last month when we gathered around the browser, I was expressing my concerns about a “guns of October” scenario emerging in the Middle East and assuring you that I did not believe the attack in Benghazi on September 11 represented an intelligence failure. Within days of posting, the conflict in Syria expanded to Turkey retaliating with cross border fire against Assad’s government forces. Then on September 28th the DNI issued a statement clarifying that subsequent intelligence showed the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi was not a spontaneous reaction to the YouTube “Innocence of Musl
I started over Labor Weekend to write about my increasing concern about the escalating number of Green on Blue attacks in Afghanistan during August, and even though they are continuing they seem to have receded in importance relative to raising level of violence in Cairo, the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens (along three other Americans) in our Benghazi Consulate, and anti American demonstrations in 20 other countries all triggered by the offense taken at an amateurish YouTube video that seems to mock the Prophet Muhammad. As with the Danish cartoons from years past, Arab Muslims ag
Since my last interaction with you just before the 4th of July quite a bit as transpired - - - - most of it troubling to me - - - - but the Olympics, the preseason début of the Redskin’s RG III, and the Nationals pennant run, all seem to be acceptable diversions in the swelter of the dog days of July and August in DC.
When we left off in June we were discussing the implications of the New York Times’ [not so] Secret Kill List article of 29 May about how the President singularly decides who will be targeted for termination by CIA launched drone strikes and how he alone can give the execute order. What I offered for your consideration was a discussion about whether these drone strikes could be justified under generally accepted Laws of War and even more importantly whether or not they were effective in making the United States safer. After almost a month long barrage of media reporting only staunched by the Supreme Court Decision upholding the Affordable Care Act on June 28th, I now understand the real interest in this story is the debate about whether it was leaked to effect presidential electoral politics or not. Wow did I miss that!
Having spent most of May reading Tim Weiner’s recent book “ENEMIES a History of the FBI” and Jose Rodriguez’s “HARD MEASURES How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Save American Lives” I thought discussing my “takeaways” from these two books would be interesting material for this edition. However, not examining the in-depth media reporting on the use of armed drones for targeted killing of terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen juxtaposed with the wholesale execution of civilians in Syria strikes me as tone death. Finding the confluence of technology and ethics personally fascinating, the more I thought about how the President is personally engaged in selecting targets and giving the “shoot order” for targeted drone killings I found myself informed by Weiner’s and Rodriquez’s narratives with implications for Syria.
Is it just me or is the Secret Service hard partying prostitute scandal in Cartagena Columbia like a NSCAR pile up that you shouldn't be fixated on, but just can't bring yourself to stop watching? As a Tailhook era sailor who spent his life in and around Naval Aviation, I am not surprised that anything to do with drinking, partying and hookers would hold my attention (how about those GSA partiers; who knew!?!?), but the mainstream media stays with stories because they are either important or they provide the numbers that matter to advertisers. I am guessing the Secret Service scandal has what journalists call "legs" because it is both salacious and involves the security of the President.
I am just back from the DoDIIS Conference in Denver where the message was moving military intelligence, if not the entire national Intelligence Community (IC), to an Information Technology (IT) Enterprise (ITE; aka "the cloud") is a mission imperative. I will return to DoDIIS, but first I want to comment on the book "INTEL WARS: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror" by Matthew Aid and share some thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan.
January was an intense month for me personally with my daughter’s return from Afghanistan as I sorted out some challenging career options associated with the ending of myself imposed sabbatical as an unemployed Navy pensioner, but all that is loose change relative to events impacting the IC during 2012’s first month.
Just before News Years I was conversing with you that Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea are nation states that demand Intelligence Community (IC) focus in 2012 to insure against strategic surprise. Since that penetrating analysis of the obvious, all three have continued to earn IC attention. Kim Jong Eun has assumed his father's leadership of North Korea because any other choice remains destabilizing to the North Korean elites, China, Japan and I suspect South Korea. In Pakistan there are rumblings that the army is trying remove President Asif Ali Zardari without a coup so it can have more pliable civilian leadership to deal with while the CIA has suspended drone attacks. Iran, of course, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to increasing US sanctions for Tehran not curtailing its nuclear program. Given my amazing "clairvoyance" I am sure you are wondering what other "evitable surprises" I see the IC having to deal with over the course of the new year, so here are a half a dozen to mull over.
For someone who self-selected himself for a pre-holiday season sabbatical from the IC private sector work force grind, I have not had much time to get to my monthly discourse with you. Actually I have started the December version of MazzInt several times but events have been occurring faster than I could assimilate them and certainly more swiftly than I could put them cogently into some broader context so I would just not be recounting media reports to you.
I am late with this November edition because of some ongoing changes in my professional life that are of no great importance to any of you, but could impact the Social Security Administration.
Happy FY 12 New Year!
First it is good that we are able to celebrate a continuing resolution (CR) for FY 12 vice dealing with a government shutdown as was almost the case as members of Congress postured and played "political chicken" over disaster relief funds for FEMA. More pragmatically, this CR will likely remain in place until at least the Congress votes up or down on December 23rd regarding the coming November 23rd recommendations of the Congressional "Super Committee" for reducing the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the coming decade
Over Labor Day Weekend I read Vice President Cheney's personal and political memoir "In My Time" and I happy to report that "my head did not explode" from the "revelations" in this short book. For the most part this is droll and self-serving quick read, but I was happy for his confirmation that as Vice President he never politicized intelligence for policy reasons.
At the time of the July edition of Mazz-INT Blog, the government was tied in a knot over coming to grips with how to get long term spending under control so there would be the political conditions to raise the debt ceiling on August 2nd; NATO forces were engaged in a seeming stalemate in Libya to remove Gadhafi from power; there was rising concern about corruption in the Karzai "government" in Afghanistan; near open confrontation between Islamabad and the Washington over continuing US unilateral drone attacks against Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership inside of Pakistan; and the US Intelligence Community (IC) was finishing a quiet but well deserved victory lap for taking out Osama bin Laden. As August begins I am happy to report that Bin Laden remains dead ----- with increasingly negative impacts for Al Qaeda, but little else as changed.
There probably should be more on my mind this Fourth of July Weekend to engage you with, but I keep coming back to how historically ineffective most Intelligence Community (IC) industry days are and how the Arab Spring is Déjà Vu all over again re the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The connection between IC industry days and reading the Arab Spring I have to admit is not-obvious (and some will say contrived), but for me they show an institutional flaw that the IC reflexively seems to ignore.
Since we last gathered around the AFCEA URL, the President has nominated CIA Director Leon Panetta to be the next Secretary of Defense and named General David Patraeus to take over the CIA. In a surprising development neither Vice Chairman Marine General James Cartwright nor European Command Commander Admiral James Stavridis were selected to relieve Admiral Michael Mullen as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs - - - instead the President selected Army General Martin Dempsey, who has been Army Chief of Staff only since 11 April. Former DNI Denny Blair testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the status of intelligence reform since 9/11 opined that
"As DNI, I could have led this process [intelligence reform] had I enjoyed the support of the President and his staff. However, their past experience, priorities, and the White House-centric style of national security governance never offered me the opportunity."