Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Everyone's an intel expert this week

So why not me too? But instead of offering anything substantive, I'll just criticize someone else. Here's David Ignatius (in a column originally titled "A Breakdown in CIA Tradecraft," as if Ignatius knows a whole lot about tradecraft):
The bombing in Khost is a much more tragic case of good intentions gone awry. The question to ask is why the suicide bomber was allowed into the agency's base in eastern Afghanistan. Agency officers traditionally meet their sources at clandestine locations -- "safe houses," as they're known, and car pickups -- outside an embassy or military base. The reason is security: The agent shouldn't see many CIA faces, and vice versa.
This is actually wrong. Yeah, security is the reason, but it's about security of the asset, not the officer(s) working him: it's generally a bad idea to trot a source in the front door of a U.S. intelligence facility if you want him to A) continue to have access to useful information and B) continue to not be dead.


  1. Considering how long we've been running sources in Afghanistan, it's amazing that this hasn't happened sooner, especially to our tactical-level collectors.

    You're right, the absolute wrong response to this is to clamp down and treat sources like detainees when they come on base. A cursory pat-down is a good idea, but in a case like this where the source is pretty high-level, a better idea would be to have an American who is not involved in running the guy to do the pat-down. That way you don't break rapport and the job is still getting done.

    Further, this underlines the danger of working with "turned" assetts. You don't know what they're thinking, no matter that they profess.

  2. The title hits it on the head. Too many blogs and pundits arguing over too little news.

  3. Off-topic, but the following articles at SWJ reminded me of the crazy, "so, does hybrid war exist and just what is it and how do you define it and is it meaningful and is war changing or the same," thread from a few weeks ago (was it a few weeks? It all runs together when you are busy....)

    and "Describe... Don't Define." Ha!