Intelligence: October 31, 2002

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The Department of Defense is setting up a special intelligence unit to deal with intelligence on Iraq. This is being done because of a disagreement between the Pentagon and the CIA (as well as the State Department) on the reliability of Iraqi exile groups and the information they provide. In particular, the CIA distrusts the Iraqi National Congress (INC). This organization serves as a spokesman and coordinating organization for dozens of Iraqi exile groups. The CIA accuses the INC of misusing (stealing) U.S. funds provided to support Iraqi exile groups. The CIA also suspects the INC of not forwarding crucial information it has about what is going on in Iraq. The Department of Defense believes the INC is no worse than most other exile organizations and is a vital component in any invasion of Iraq. Exile groups, particularly from the Middle East, are fractious and full of people who would be criminals (or very nearly so) in the United States. Congress has passed rules over the last 25 years limiting the kinds of people the CIA can deal with, and the State Department has always been reluctant to deal with shadowy exile groups (since the State Department's main job is dealing with the legally recognized representatives of nations.) The Pentagon feels the CIA is being squeamish and self-serving at a time when American lives are in danger. There has long been bad feelings in the Pentagon about the quality and timeliness of intelligence provided by the CIA. The generals see the CIA as an organization that is risk averse and unwilling to get its hands dirty in order to save American lives. The CIA feels that it is better to collect intelligence without depending on unreliable and corrupt organizations like the INC. The Department of Defense formed it's own mini-CIA in the early 1960s (the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA) in the early 1960s. But the CIA controlled the space satellites, and had more experienced analysts. The DIA was tarnished when it cooked the books on enemy strength during the Vietnam war (at the behest of the president and Pentagon generals.) The two organizations have never gotten along.


 


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