Wednesday, February 04, 2004

By Reader Demand! Re: National Security Policy and Intelligence Oversight

NOTE: This article was originally posted to Daniel Drezner's weblog regarding a potential Major US offensive inside Pakistan (Chicago Tribute). As usual, the oldman shot off his mouth and someone asked him to back it up. Also as usual, the oldman was rarring to do exactly that. The only thing different was this time someone asked the oldman to post it to his blog. So the oldman will not only do that, but will follow it up with some more writings on what should be the United States of America's posture on the WoT. More to come as the presses spit out hot electrons at screen near you!

Published January 28, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration, deeply concerned about recent assassination attempts against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and a resurgence of Taliban forces in neighboring Afghanistan, is preparing a U.S. military offensive that would reach inside Pakistan with the goal of destroying Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, military sources said.


Mr. Buehner,

You write:
"So here's my question to you, Oldman (I'll address this to you as a Dean supporter, I'm not implying this is your personal position). Dean claims Iraq has distracted from Al Qaeda and Bin Ladin. He claims as president he will make that his number 1 priority. Now considering that we are already doing what you rightly suggested was the most effective and wise way to operate in Pakistan, and that we have been doing it for better than 2 years, what exactly more do you propose doing to destroy Al Qaeda that Bush hasnt done?"

You are absolutely right in asking this question, and you are absolutely right that ANY Dem candidate has to answer this hot potatoe or be considered a light weight. I will do so as best I can in this brief format. Clarifications like battle plans would take further detailing, but here's the nutshell.

We in fact have experience in breaking into these kinds of networks. It's just that it's in the DEA and ATF and not the CIA/FBI. (At least FBI counter-terrorism. We've had the wrong guys on this the whole time. We need Treasury guys and FBI organized crime.) The DEA has to break into close-knit, sometimes familial cartels, all the time. And has had success bringing in even notorious drug lords. I know the analogy isn't exact, but the key isn't more force. We have our guys over there, but they don't know what door to knock in. This whole military upping the ante is based upon a massive invasion style sweep. It might get lucky and it might arouse allot of blowback.

We need a dedicated dirty tricks style no holds barred hitting beneath the belt infiltration programme. We need deep-cover agents, we need to start setting up shell weapons dealers and financial institution fronts (including these informal network brokers that are used to send money by proxy) to lure these people in to get at their organization. Also terroist cells have been broken before. The Jordanian secret police broke the Abu Nidal terroist group by putting the pressure on the family members. We don't have to use torture, but financial coercion, bribery, charging them as accessories in RICO type actions, detention, wiretaps - the works. That's what it takes to roll these people. Everybody's got a family.

And this is exactly what we aren't doing. I can guarentee you that. Then when you start subverting their networks, you just move on up the food chain. That's the way it works and it's the only way it works. No amount of brute force charging into a wide area of Pakistan (sure to arouse large-scale patriotic resistance political or guerilla) will suffice to achieve the goals.

And yes it's just words but it has been done, can be done, and it will work. The details of course are problematic, but I'd be happy to outline them elsewhere. We can do this (and if Dean was smart enough to hire the oldman) the oldman himself would be happy to advise or head the project himself. It's a dirty job but somebody has got to do it. For the record, I'd do it for Bush too. It ain't about partisanship - it's about delivering for America. This is what needs to be done, and we gotta do what it takes.

Now mind you, just because I believe in using organized crime and anti-racketeering methods to go after these guys I don't mean that we should prosecute them as criminals. That's an entirely different matter. Once we flip them and get the baddies, by all means send in the Marines and hose their asses or send in Special Forces to put a laser guided bullet in their skulls. We just got to put the bullseye on the right house at the right time first or else it won't work.


Brooks writing on the CIA (NYT) in an op-ed has discussed precisely why we need a balance between "head" and "heart". Here is the Brooks' document referred to, the Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Here is also the Matthew Yglesias peice on the nous. The "Nous" is the Aristotelian and ancient Greek term for the intuitive capacity - the ability to make gut instinct decisions that naturally cut to the heart of an issue.

The oldman would argue that what the intel agencies lack is nous, which experience in academic analysis can actually undermine as the CIA article on the intelligence analysis confirms. Human intelligence is more than just gossiping with people you bribe in the field, it's a comprehensive knowledge of human nature both rational and irrational. Without it, abstracted numbers and messages can make very little sense at all. The sad thing is that the White House ejected both intuition and academic rigor when it decided to bet all that its convictions were apriori correct.

The oldman was not fooled, and argued before invasion on a regional radio outlet and in correspondence to a political science professor (not Dan Drezner) that there was little chance that Saddam had anything more than WMD programmes left. As it turned out, this hedge was itself even excessive. There were voices of reason, who like Scott Ritter (and even Richard Butler who argued for the war) refused to support the Bush43 Administration's more egregiously outlandish claims. When David Kay (trying to spread the blame evenly) said that "We were all wrong," he means everyone but the Isrealis, the UN, Hans Blix, Ex-inspectors like Ritter, and old reprobates hanging around from the Cold War like the oldman. All of us dissenters were vindicated by cold hard facts in twenty twenty hind-sight.

Of this hasn't stopped people who lined up to sell out like Tenet (NYT) and Rumsfeld (via Brad Delong) from attempting to defend the indefensible. This sort of crying wolf is hardly likely to do American credibility any good.


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