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Iraq: Negroponte's parallel CIA

Kuwait Times

February 17,2005 - Senior US Defence Department sources say US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte has set up his own parallel intelligence service in Iraq that is separate from the CIA and not officially part of the Pentagon. The new service reports directly to Negroponte, who created it because he does not trust the CIA station chief in Iraq. If true, Negroponte's move is sneaky but not especially surprising. There already are a few separate "intel shops" being run within the US government, buried deep within various agencies. These exist because government officials often do not trust other agencies to provide quick, reliable intelligence, and thus often look to their own personnel to run separate operations and collection efforts. A sense of territoriality also is to blame, with agencies reluctant to give up turf or share information.

As a result, the government's intelligence efforts are constantly undermined and fragmented. Running a separate government intelligence service - often without the knowledge or approval of the CIA or even the Pentagon - is nothing new. In late January, the existence of the Pentagon's Strategic Support Branch (SSB) within the Defence Intelligence Agency became public knowledge. The SSB reportedly is responsible for intelligence collection related to counter terrorism efforts all over the world and was established by the Pentagon because US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld expressed concerns that he was not receiving the intelligence he needed from the CIA.

According to a senior government official, Negroponte has brought in old friends from his Foreign Service days, most likely to manage intelligence operations and collection. Negroponte's efforts likely are supported - if only tacitly - by Rumsfeld, with whom he has a close relationship and who also has endorsed the use of separate-but-parallel intelligence entities. A US Senate Intelligence Committee report released in July 2004 blasted the CIA for intelligence failures before the invasion of Iraq, and it appears that the agency has yet to improve its shoddy reporting - or at least its tarnished image. The number and structure of insurgent groups in Iraq is still relatively unknown, as are the whereabouts (or even the existence) of insurgent leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. CIA intelligence also has failed to provide information on Al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Even if the intelligence has been collected, it likely is not being properly reported or analysed - meaning that valuable information could be slipping through the agency's hands. If government officials continue to establish their own methods of intelligence collection, it will not only undermine the efforts of official agencies - such as the CIA - but also provide too many fragments of information that cannot be examined side by side. There already are problems with information sharing between the Defence Department, FBI and CIA. The establishment of separate, parallel services - who do not necessarily have to answer to congressional oversight - adds another kink in the flow of information.

It also sets up the new national intelligence director (NID) - yet to be appointed - for failure. As long as government agencies and on-the-side intel projects undermine each other, the NID will not be able to bring all intelligence efforts under one umbrella. The proliferation of small, separate intelligence groups also hurts collection efforts by impeding the government's ability to paint a clear picture of the realities on the ground - in Iraq and elsewhere. (Stratfor)


:: Article nr. 9737 sent on 17-feb-2005 14:47 ECT

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