Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 06, 2004
WAR: What Intelligence?

Stuart Buck points us to a quote from GOP Senator Charles Grassley that provides a rather different perspective than George Tenet's:

“I think it’s legitimate for me to question all of our intelligence information because that I never learned anything from those briefings that I hadn’t learned in the newspapers. If they don’t know anything more than they’re telling us, what’s the use of having an intelligence agency, and why bother to brief us?”
Posted by Baseball Crank at 06:41 AM | War 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

There is some truth in that – the work of journalists is not dissimilar from that of spies – and it is valuable to understand the limitations of intelligence. However, one of the points I thought Tenet was making was that a lot of what later becomes common knowledge, available in open sources, was first discovered through intelligence-gathering.

From what I’ve read, about 80-90% of “intelligence” information comes from open sources anyway, but that last 10-20% is the most critical information, usually important enough to justify the extreme efforts that countries undertake in hopes of discovering it. Also, I think the country-specific expertise of intelligence analysts and their foreign service officer counterparts in the State Department generally serves an important government function.

Posted by: The Mad Hibernian at February 6, 2004 09:56 AM
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