Monday, February 9, 2009

The Dangers of Our Weak Counterintelligence Efforts

Via CT Blog -

A vitally important description of one of the nation's vulnerabilities-the failure of counterintelligence- was buried in the Washington Post's Outlook section yesterday. It is worth revisiting.

The author, Michelle Van Cleave, headed the Bush administration's first congressionally mandated national counterintelligence executive, a vital mission, she writes that today, "is on life support."

It is a problem that spans the recent administrations, and one the Obama administration should address forcefully as it looks to reshape the intelligence community. The litany of reasons for the current situation, however, are familiar, including:

-lack of centralized thinking and action on the issue
-stovepiping of information
-lack of coherent policy

The lack of attention is borne out by the fact that Van Cleave was the FIRST national head of counterintelligence, appointed only in 2003.

Counterintelligence has to have true national leadership, and is too important to be left to the hodgepodge of agencies that currently carry out bits and pieces of the policy.

Why? As Van Cleave correctly notes, the Chinese have managed to steal EVERY nuclear weapons design the U.S. has, allowing them not only to leapfrog generations and billions of dollars in development, but also to identify every vulnerability in the current systems.

Russia no longer needs to rely solely on KGB thugs to carry out much of its espionage. It simply carries out the best business intelligence gathering operations through front companies, and hires lobbyists to collect other information of interest.

Most tellingly, the Islamist world is heavily invested in the United States through shell corporations and the governments that host and sponsor terrorists, from Hezbollah and al Qaeda. My full blog is here.

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