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A review of some past political tricks involving intelligence is described in this article. This is very relevant in the current political environment.  In various media, there has now started to appear claims on single source intelligence reporting on the Benghazi incident of September 11th, 2012. The last official released unclassified report related to the Benghazi incident was from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on September 28th (see http://www.dni.gov/...) . The ODNI is the highest office in the intelligence community. The Director of this office is Jim Clapper, Lt. Gen. Retired. Jim Clapper has been called "a consummate intelligence professional" and is of the highest integrity. I take the statement on September 28th as fact based, honest, and free of  political bias. And I personally have the highest respect for Jim Clapper...just read his biography at www.odni.gov

Until an official all-source report by the designated Intelligence Community agency  on Benghazi is done, and an unclassified version released, I suggest you be very cautious  on what is the best estimate of the truth as of the date of the report. Reported intelligence in the media at present is politically motivated,  possibly misstated and since sole source related cannot completely be trusted at 100% accurate.

A reminder about reporters being given classified information for political purposes. Two recent cases (from based on http://en.wikipedia.org/...  and http://en.wikipedia.org/... , retrieved 9:17PM EST, 19 Oct 2012) :

Judith Miller (born January 2, 1948) is an American journalist, formerly of the New York Times Washington bureau. Her coverage of Iraq's alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program both before and after the 2003 invasion generated much controversy. A number of stories she wrote while working for The New York Times later turned out to be inaccurate or simply false {Emphasis added}.
Miller was later involved in disclosing Valerie Plame's identity as CIA personnel. When asked to name her sources, Miller invoked reporter's privilege and refused to reveal her sources in the CIA leak. Miller retired from her job at the New York Times in November 2005.
Judith Millers main source seemed to be Scooter Libby and when the New York Times confronted Miller about her reporting she "retired". The New York Times should be commended for cleaning up the reporting from her.
Irve Lewis "Scooter" Libby (born August 22, 1950) is a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was later disbarred after being convicted of a felony.
From 2001 to 2005, Libby held the titles of Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs and Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States] and Assistant to the President during the administration of President George W. Bush.
In October 2005, Libby was indicted by a federal grand jury concerning the investigation of the leak of the covert identity of Central Intelligence Agency officer Valerie Plame Wilson. Plame's relationship with the CIA was formerly classified information. Libby was indicted on five counts relating to the Plame affair: Two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, and one count of obstruction of justice.
One of the political tactics is for the political person (either Executive or Legislative branches, but seems Legislative recently) to give their version of the information to a reporter (as was done by Libby and Miller) and have it published, and then cite the published report as absolute truth in political discussions. Based on the leaks appearing now and in certain media, it is expected that this will be used for political purposes very soon.

A reminder about single source intelligence reporting. Intelligence sources (called sole sources)  are :  human intelligence( HUMINT), imagery intelligence (IMINT), measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), and open-source (OSINT). Some of the main collecting organizations are:     HUMINT (main organizations CIA/DO&DIA/DHS), SIGINT(NSA) and IMINT(NGA). A report from any of these is called single sole source report. All-Source reporting (also called finished reporting)  incorporates all sources of information, where the all-source reported has reviewed all the sole source information, discovered the inadequacies, and placed further collection requirements to resolve confusion in the  data in the production of finished intelligence. This process takes time to produce a good product.   The primary organization for  All-Source reporting is based on a matrix supplied by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

It has been said that "Running with a single source report" is a sure way to make a mistake. It has been said that  "Based on access to all the HUMINT reporting, you can find a report that ' the moon is made of green cheese'". It would then explained that there are items that are very provably false in this type of data, and you need to check the evaluations (called EVALS)  of the report which were later submitted by the requirement originator (and possibly others) as an evaluation of the report. These evaluations are done after the original report is transmitted, probably weeks after the item was released. So when you see a reporter citing a single sole source report, you need to be very skeptical of the item for the " reminders"  cited...it may not be entirely the final truth.

A reminder about how "words" seems to change. For political purposes  a "could"  becomes a "fact" when a undisclosed government official  (executive branch  or legislative branch) talks to a reporter. Similar problems happen when the government person only tells part of the story to a reporter, when the whole story has very different meaning, and thus the part of the story is very misleading. Please keep in mind that when an undisclosed government official discloses classified information to an uncleared reporter, the official is violating his oath not to disclose classified information.  It  must very interesting to be in hall outside a closed classified congressional briefing (which the congressional branch has demanded to receive from various organizations)  and as the congressmen leave the briefing for them to run to their favorite reported and tell the reporter  what he wanted to give the reporter on the classified briefing. A normal person who had a clearance and released similar information,  would have their clearance cancelled and probably lose their job.

There are very specific standards for intelligence reporting, especially all-source finished intelligence reporting.  The ODNI issued instructions in 2007 stating: “Analysts and managers should provide objective assessments informed by available information that are not distorted or altered with the intent of supporting or advocating a particular policy, political viewpoint, or audience,”. See “Analytical Standards” , Intelligence Community Directive 203, June 21, 2007.

Until an official all-source report by the designated Intelligence Community agency  on Benghazi is done, and an unclassified version released, I suggest you be very cautious  on what is the best estimate of the truth as of the date of the report. You need also to watch out  for the political person (especially in the Legislative branch) to give their version of the information to a reporter and have it published, and then cite the published report as absolute truth in political discussion. Based on the leaks appearing now and in certain media, it is expected that this will be used for political purposes very soon.

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Comment Preferences

  •  2004 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett

    Don't forget this this and this.  There are many instances of politics damaging national security.  The links above point to several instances from GWB's administration, at least one of which was motivated by gaining advantage in the 2004 election.

    Government can't restrict free speech, but corporations can? WTF

    by kyoders on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 10:17:34 AM PDT

    •  Or, about the long history (0+ / 0-)

      of officials getting bunk into the media, this:

      The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq's illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.

      The official, James R. Clapper Jr., a retired lieutenant general, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material ''unquestionably'' had been moved out of Iraq.

      THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: WEAPONS SEARCH; Iraqis Removed Arms Material, U.S. Aide Says, New York Times, October 29, 2003

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