This is more than a little…strange…on several levels. Apparently the State Dept asked the CIA to provide intel on Iran and it refused because it was “too busy” and because it didn’t want to reveal its sources. To the State Dept. So Condi’s minions assigned the task to a junior staffer, who Googled the info.
When the State Department recently asked the CIA for names of Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the agency refused, citing a large workload and a desire to protect its sources and tradecraft.
Frustrated, the State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to find the names another way — by using Google. Those with the most hits under search terms such as “Iran and nuclear,” three officials said, became targets for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the United Nations.
Now, there could be several reasons for this but none of them have anything to do with a “large workload”.
- There is a whole lot of bad feeling between CIA and State. This could be related to:
- the fallout after George Tenant’s cowardice landed all the blame – blame it didn’t deserve – on the Company for the faulty intelligence leading up to the war;
- Condi’s standard neocon disdain for CIA intel-gathering and analysis, which can’t be good for interdepartmental relations;
- CIA distrust that an incompetent, stumbling State, larded with agenda-driven neocons, would either misuse the information or blow its sources for some temporary political purpose a la Valerie Plame.
- The Company doesn’t have any intelligence from Iran except what it reads in the papers (or Googles….) and doesn’t want the world, especially not State, to know it. One of the biggest problems for US intelligence gathering in the past two decades has been its leaders’ insistence on relying on technical methods of gathering intelligence (satellite photos, telecommunications interceptions, and so on) to the detriment of developing live assets – real people on the ground in a position to spy for us. Live assets are needed to confirm or deny the intel gathered by mechanical means, which can be blocked or – worse – tricked up to fool us.
- The drubbing it took after the invasion has turned it into a mightily insular agency that doesn’t trust anybody, not even the State Dept of its own government and is passing out NO information of any kind if it can help it.
There’s a hint of this from the anonymous CIA source quoted in the Post story.
What little information there is has been guarded at CIA headquarters. The agency declined to discuss the case in detail, but a senior intelligence official said: “There were several factors that made it a complicated and time-consuming request, not the least of which were well-founded concerns” about revealing the way the CIA gathers intelligence on Iran.
There’s also a fairly important question unanswered in the article: What happened to State’s Intelligence Dept? When Powell was Secretary, State Intelligence was a thriving, competent bureau with its own sources and resources. If it still exists under Rice, why wasn’t this handed to them instead of some junior clerk and his Google skills? Did she disband it because it had embarrassed her
husband President over the Iraq WMD deal? If so, that should have been front-page news and it wasn’t.
Altogether there’s much more here than meets the eye and none of it is good.