Posts

CIA Director worries about Iran/North Korea Nuclear Cooperation

There they  were at  a  University of Texas conference, the masters of intelligence disinformation, CIA Director John Brennan and DNI, James Clapper, poring over Kennedy Johnson era mythologies about body counts  as metrics of  success during  the Nam  era of the 1960’s and 1970’s seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. What a consummate waste of taxpayers’ dollars deflecting serious examination of national security failed strategies of an Administration intent on weakening America’s geo-political respect among doubting allies. All while hollowing out our military capabilities.

Brennan’s track record at the White House, before he was appointed as CIA head to  replace Gen. Petreaus,  was as counterterrorism czar overseeing a number of  Obama covert initiatives. There was the drone assassination program, sugar coating the radical Islam threat and running  covert ops under Presidential Findings collecting MANPADS  and shipping them  to Syrian rebels.  More may be revealed in upcoming hearings by the Special Benghazi Committee.

In this Washington Times (WT) report, Brennan raises the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Iran could have outsourced developments of nuclear weapons ad ICBMs to North Korea. Brennan was responded to media reports to that effect. He was cited by the WT saying:

Therefore, we have to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to uncover anything,” Mr. Brennan said. “I’m not saying that something is afoot at all — what I’m saying is that we need to be attuned to all of the potential pathways to acquiring different types of [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities.

The WT further noted:

Mr. Brennan’s remarks on the Iran nuclear deal come just days after Mr. Clapper revealed that U.S. intelligence officials “are fielding some independent capabilities that will enable us … to have good insight into [Iran‘s] nuclear industrial enterprise” as the accord goes into effect over the coming months.

Mr. Clapper told the conference that he’s “pretty confident” U.S. intelligence officials will be able to verify “from our own sources” the accuracy of future IAEA assessments of whether or not Iran is complying with the terms of the accord.

Mr. Brennan on Tuesday also said that he stands behind the nuclear deal, and that he has “a lot of confidence” that the accord is structured in such a way that will make it extremely difficult for Iran to cheat.

What have my colleague Ilana Freedman, Stephen and Shoshana Bryen, Israeli  Missile defense expert Uzi Rubin, DIA and Office of Naval Intelligence reports been saying for nearly five years about cooperative nuclear weapons and  ICBM developments between these partners in the Axis of Evil?  That they may already  have developed a small number of nuclear weapons, tested warheads to be fitted on Shahab 3 missiles, and launched  missiles with  disposable boosters for satellite bombs and ICBMs.

House and Senate Iran deal hearings didn’t lay a glove on any of the Administration witnesses querying them about these possibilities , whether behind doors, or in front of the klieg lights of TV-cameras. Brennan either knew about those covert development possibilities, or  purposefully evaded responsibility for  informing  Congressional Select Permanent Intelligence Committees  about the status of those joint Iranian –North Korean development efforts.

We knew from what was leaked by the Pentagon regarding the September 2007 IAF Operation Orchard that destroyed the Syrian nuclear bomb factory on the Euphrates at al-Kibar there were intelligence file photos of North Korean and Iranian scientists at the site.  That was under Bush 43.

Would you place any trust in the representations of Messrs.  Brennan and Clapper?  Clapper is now embroiled in another intelligence disaster, the  allegations that as DNI he met frequently with CENTCOM intelligence chief, Gen. Grove to review  assessments of  the coalition aerial campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  Given reports of a veritable revolt by 50 CENTCOM analysts about overly optimistic assessments about progress in defeating or at least achieving a stalemate in the war against ISIS, Clapper may be the subject of a Pentagon Inspector General investigations leading to possible  House and Senate Select Permanent Intelligence Hearings.

A Daily Beast report  in late August 2015 quoted former DIA chief, retired US Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn saying, “The phrase I use is the politicization of the intelligence community. That’s here. And it’s dangerous.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Administration Fails to Recognize the Threat of Global Jihad?

As a Former Army Intelligence officer, we were trained to evaluate the credibility of sources and then delve into the Intel they were providing. We were also trained that if you didn’t identify the threat doctrine of your enemies then you couldn’t formulate a winning strategy, let alone protect your forces. The Obama Administration has been evading the capabilities of military intelligence echelons to assist it  in fashioning a winning strategy in the war against Global Jihad. One would have thought that when the members of Seal Team Six killed  the late Osama Bin Laden and scooped up disk drives and documents that the West Wing would have considered it a treasure trove. The vital raw intelligence would have determined the aims and global strategy of so-called “core Al Qaeda” and its burgeoning affiliates across the Muslim Ummah and the West. (Groups like AQAP, AQIM, al Nusrah, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram.)  Unfortunately, as this Weekly Standard article by Fox News ‘Special Report’ panelist, Stephen F. Hayes illustrates, President Obama  may have evaded  his oath of office as Commander in Chief, Former Defense Intel Chief Blasts Obama.

Former DIA head Gen. Flynn’s cautionary tale.

Gen Michael Flynn

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.) former DIA Head.

Hayes uses a speech by former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to fellow intelligence professionals to illustrate why the Administration cannot be trusted.  Flynn retired after being brushed off by the National Security team in the West Wing and the politicized CIA. He was seeking to deploy his resources at the DIA to evaluate and derive meaningful intelligence on Al Qaeda its aims and strategies from the treasure trove of Obama bin laden computer files captured during the Seal Team Six assault. This would have enabled the Commander in Chief and his national security team to articulate the threat of global radical Islam and fashion a strategy that would protect our forces engaged in a war against Islamic Jihad. Instead the Administration myopically evaded its responsibilities opting to promote the meaningless and opaque threat as “violent extremism.” Instead Flynn and his team of military intelligence analysts were brushed off after having unearthed the goals of “core Al Qaeda” and its network of empowered affiliates

Here are excerpts from the Hayes Weekly Standard article that illustrates these points:

Lt. General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, [said], “The dangers to the U.S. do not arise from the arrogance of American power, but from unpreparedness or an excessive unwillingness to fight when fighting is necessary.” The Obama Administration doesn’t understand the threat, Flynn said, noting that the Administration refuses to use “Islamic militants” to describe the enemy.

“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” he said.

The administration, he continued, wants “us to think that our challenge is dealing with an undefined set of violent extremists or merely lone-wolf actors with no ideology or network. But that’s just not the straight truth.”

[…]

The failure to exploit the captured Bin Laden file.

The CIA was responsible for the first scrub of the collection of more than 1 million documents and retained “executive authority” over the cache when it was completed. But the CIA stopped analyzing or “exploiting” the documents after that first quick and incomplete assessment and the Agency made no attempt to systematically examine and codify all of the intelligence included in the intelligence haul.

Flynn assembled a team at the DIA to do exactly that, but the CIA initially refused to share the documents. After a lengthy bureaucratic battle, DIA analysts were given limited access to the bin Laden documents and undertook an exhaustive exploitation. The documents provided the U.S. government with its best look at al Qaeda and its operations and challenges—from the inside. There were letters between Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, plans for future attacks, details about fundraising successes and failures, descriptions of relationships between al Qaeda and governments in the region. The documents remain unexploited to this day.

Derek Harvey, a senior DIA official and former director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at CENTCOM, led the DIA team that exploited the documents. He recently told TWS that the U.S. government hasn’t “done anything close to a full exploitation.”

And what was Flynn’s overall assessment?

In classified analyses based heavily on the documents, the DIA directly challenged the Obama administration’s claims that the threat from al Qaeda was diminished or fading. Flynn hinted at this in an interview he gave to James Kitfield of Breaking Defense shortly after he left government. “When asked if the terrorists were on the run, we couldn’t respond with any answer but ‘no.’ When asked if the terrorists were defeated, we had to say ‘no.’ Anyone who answers ‘yes’ to either of those questions either doesn’t know what they are talking about, they are misinformed, or they are flat-out lying,” Flynn said.

Enter former CENTCOM Commander Marine General Zinni on the lack of a Strategy.

Gen Anthony Zinni

Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOMM commander. Source: Pensacola News Journal.

Recently, we heard former CENTCOMM Commander, Four Star Marine Gen. (ret.) Anthony Zinni talk about the lack of a meaningful Obama Strategy in the war against the Islamic state.  See; Pensacola News Journal article, “General discusses ‘Situation in the Middle East.

Among those gathered to hear him were former colleagues at CENTCOMM. He was introduced by Marine Lt. Gen. Duane Thiesen, president and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Zinni shared his insights gained from long experience serving in the Middle East and his engagement in strategic defense studies about terrorism and stability or the lack thereof in the Arab World. He opened up his speech with an anecdote about a conversation with two Arab leaders in the UAE on the day when the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003. His two interlocutors said this was a disaster, because” it would unleash the Persian threat and ignite a religious war between Sunni and Shia.” Zinni had disagreed with the Bush strategy that without overwhelming force to seal the borders of  Iraq, that sectarian fissures and conflicts would arise and that victory would not be achieved. In his remarks referring to the current situation he said, “Obviously, it’s the rise of the extremists – their ability to recruit now and reach out globally having bases from which they can operate.” He was dismissive of regional and bi-lateral initiatives saying that “the nation’s leaders need to take a strategic look at the world. “This globalization is connected by a network” A network according to Zinni including space, cyberspace, sea, air, land communications and trade resulting in global impact.

Before his talk I chatted with him briefly and gave him my question for the Q+A:

We are now several months into Operation Inherent Resolve – a US led coalition “to degrade and destroy”, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. What is your current assessment of the conduct of this Operation and what in your view could be done to achieve the ultimate objective?

He smiled and said,  “The short answer is we should not be afraid to put boots on the ground.”

When the question was posed to him by the Tiger Bay moderator, Zinni differentiated between, a strategy for Iraq versus one for Syria. He suggested that perhaps two US brigades, coupled with Kurdish Peshmerga and both Iraqi Special Forces and Sunni militias with meaningful air support would enable the recovery of Mosul and Anbar province. He cautioned that the US now finds itself in the odd situation where Iran’s Quds Force is on the same side in Iraq. He noted this is part of a strategy by the Islamic Regime in Tehran to surround the Arabian Peninsula.That is illustrated by the US failure in Yemen, with the Houthi Shia rebels toppling the central government, the Shia majority in Bahrain, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad clinging to control in Syria. A Shia crescent cutting across the Gulf stretching as far as the Mediterranean coast. It is a hegemonic strategy that includes state sponsored terrorism and achievement of nuclear breakout, further destabilizing the region and threatening the Saudi Kingdom. As regards the Houthi uprising in Yemen, despite the death of King Abdullah and succession of King Salman, Zinni contended that the Saudis might move troops into Yemen. He suggested that US drone campaign against Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula  would not aid in saving the failed state. He was dismissive of direct involvement in Syria as there are too many disparate sectarian forces both within the Sunni majority and among the minority Alawites, Christians, Druze and Kurds. As illustrated by the US coalition strategy in the four months struggle that succeeded in freeing  the embattled city of Kobani on the Turkish border, the Kurdish YPG and Peshmerga Forces were the”boots on the ground.” His assessment  is reflected in a recent Wall Street Journal article depicting the failure of CIA training of opposition Sunni militias in Syria. He believes that the map of the modern Middle East, created in the wake of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and by the WWI Sykes Picot Agreement, may not survive.

Both Gens. Flynn and Zinni decry the failure of strategic thinking by the Administration frozen in the headlights of an oncoming Global Jihad that it refuses to acknowledge as a threat to the West.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.