Thursday, July 16, 2009

CIA's Assassination Squads

I think the headline of this LA Times article on the CIA's recently-scrapped attempt to form a team to assassinate terrorist leaders says it all: "CIA was a long way from Jason Bourne." More details are still coming out, but this article has the best summary I've read so far.
According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the CIA spent seven years trying to assemble teams capable of killing the world's most wanted terrorists but could never find a formula that worked.
This is yet another example of the intelligence community focusing too much on technology and not enough on people. This applies not just to hit squads but also to intelligence gathering. Technology is great, and making some forms of intelligence gathering obselete (I've heard the story that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff heard that Israel had entered the Gaza Strip via Twitter within five minutes, and it took military intelligence over a day to confirm it), but it can never tell you what somebody is thinking, or be able to stand right next to them in a cave in Waziristan. The intelligence community needs to accelerate the process of hiring more people capable of going around the world and blending in, with good language and cultural skills.

1 comment:

  1. But, but . . . They might be gay!!
    And it might imply coming to understand people from more than a "realist" military power perspective!