Thursday, February 7, 2008
U.S. Annual Threat Assessment or 'Groundhog Day'
Let me outline some relevant quotes from the CIA's Annual Threat Assessment, always a February ritual on Capitol Hill:
"Osama bin Laden and his global network of lieutenants and associates remain the most immediate and serious threat."
Iran has shown a "willingness to use terrorism to pursue strategic foreign policy agendas…"
In Afghanistan, the "chaos here is providing an incubator for narcotics traffickers and militant Islamic groups."
In Pakistan, "Musharraf's domestic popularity has been threatened by a series of unpopular policies that he promulgated last year. At the same time, he is being forced to contend with increasingly active Islamist extremists."
The Internet enables "terrorists to raise money, spread their dogma, find recruits and plan operations far afield," and "acquire information and capabilities for chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear attacks."
Does any of this sound familiar? It should, they are direct quotes taken from the threat assessment as released on February 7th, 2001, a full 7 months before the U.S. 'homeland' was attacked. All of it was practically rewritten for the 2008 U.S. Threat Assessment.
The highlights of the 2008 Threat Assessment, as delivered before a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday, are depressingly void of detail or anything that approaches real insight into the virulent threat now faced by the U.S. and its Western allies.
Skepticism is a good thing, cynicism is not. Unfortunately I confess to feeling much of both as I listened to what the best minds in the U.S. intelligence community had to offer on the state of the threat.
They seem unwilling to share any of their material "intelligence," the kind that would have potentially tipped off a few suspecting citizens as mass terror plots have unfolded around the world in the last decade. The intelligence community would doubtless argue that to do so would compromise operations and compromise important individuals. I would argue that without real and specific information to enhance their threat assessment, the entire exercise is essentially meaningless, as the 2001 assessment so tragically proved.
From CNN's Paula Newton
ABOUT THIS BLOGNews and observations on the threats to international security and the challenges posed by terrorism to societies around the world. From breaking news to background stories, from serious analysis to casual asides, if we think it's interesting we'll post it here.
ARCHIVE• February 2008