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Intelligence Weakness in America

Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo report on the tendency of American intelligence findings to be distorted by people in power:

"During the 1950s, the United States grossly overestimated the size of the Soviet missile arsenal, a miscalculation that was fueled in part by the Air Force, which wanted more money for its own missile systems.

During the Vietnam War, the Defense Intelligence Agency repeatedly warned that even a sustained military campaign was unlikely to defeat the North Vietnamese forces. But according to an internal history of the agency, its conclusions were repeatedly overruled by commanders who were certain that the United States was winning, and that victory was just a matter of applying more force.

“There’s a built-in tension for the people who work at D.I.A., between dispassionate analysis and what command wants,” said Paul R. Pillar, a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency analyst who years ago accused the Bush administration of distorting intelligence assessments about Iraq’s weapons programs before the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003.

“You’re part of a large structure that does have a vested interest in portraying the overall mission as going well,” he said."
- Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, Inquiry Weighs Whether ISIS Analysis Was Distorted, New York Times, Aug. 25, 2015


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