Intelligence: July 18, 2001

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The secret report by the "comparative analysis" panel that the CIA was forced to accept regarding its China policy has been leaked. While the CIA tried to pack the panel with academics which would vindicate its previous policies and findings, the panel has come down harshly on the CIA's China Desk for a consistent bias to believe that China poses no threat to US interests. The panel found virtually all of the CIA's work and reports on China for the last eight years to be consistently flawed and showed an "institutional predisposition" to play down or to take the least threatening interpretation of developments in China. The commission noted that the CIA had deliberately "overreached" in not only making incorrect assessments, but in misleading the government as to China's military and political activities. CIA Director Tenet met several times with the panel in a vain attempt to get them to soften their report, arguing that it would be used by critics of the agency to undermine its credibility on everything. Some specific failings include:

@ The CIA was consistently wrong in predicting how China would handle the EP3 incident near Hainan Island.

@ The CIA's top China analyst, Paul Heer, has publicly rejected reports that there are deep divisions inside the Chinese leadership, a view flatly rejected by every other intelligence organization.

@ The CIA has failed, if not outright refused, to conduct any serious analysis or investigation of Chinese moves into Latin America despite numerous sales of aircraft and weapons, visits by high Chinese military officials, and the recent agreement between China and Cuba.

@ When Congress complained that the CIA was not focusing enough effort on China, the agency hired 30 new analysts, but only accepted those who already held views that China was not a threat and indicated their work would support this view.

@ Key intelligence reports from the FBI and the CIA Directorate of Operations were not simply ignored but deliberately suppressed and hidden by the CIA China Desk.

@ The Agency only promoted China analysts who held the view that China is a future strategic partner and reassigned those who held the view that China might become a threat.

The report follows a Pentagon review which said that the US could not accurately predict the course of a war between China and Taiwan because the CIA had distorted some data, ignored other data, and had simply failed to find key elements of the overall picture.--Stephen V Cole


 


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