A recall of Tenet’s medal would be a good idea.

040605_tenet_hu_hmedium " "The agency and its officers did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner," the CIA Inspector General found.

"They did not always work effectively and cooperatively," the report stated."  Shrader


And that’s the truth.  The CIA like the DIA failed miserably to penetrate the apparatus of the takfiri jihadi networks.  Such penetrations would have enabled the US to anticipate coming jihadi actions.

Once again it will be said that penetrating these groups is "too hard to do."  Rubbish.  I know better.

Why were these groups not penetrated?

Timidity.  Fear of Risks,  Bureaucratic inertia.  Poor leadership at the top in all the significant organizations.

Has anything changed?  I doubt it.  If it had, bin Laden would be dead by now.  pl


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28 Responses to A recall of Tenet’s medal would be a good idea.

  1. walrus says:

    I agree 100% with what you have written Col. Lang. I’ve seen it (and been a victim of it) in other organisations – here’s a hint – look up narcissistic personality disorder, most rising managers these days have it.
    To these people nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than their continued rise through management ranks, and they will lie, cheat, steal and kill to get ahead.
    As for the crucifixion of Tenet, hindsight is always a dangerous tool. I am aware of continuous monthly unclassified emails to all American public servants for at least two years prior to 911 warning about personal security, facility security and travel security(including the threat of hijacking) so it is quite clear that the intelligence services were well aware of the threat, if not the details.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Being aware of the threat is one thing.
    Penetrating these organizations so that you can do something about it is altogether diferrent. pl

  3. Jose says:

    Colonel, is it to much reliance on exciting, modern technology versus the boring day-today-day mundane task of sending assets to penetrate Jihadist organizations?
    Or is it more simple, just managers at the CIA, DIA etc all simple don’t understand the culture, language and ideology of our enemies?
    In today’s society, managers who make bold, decisive decisions are often punished for it.
    Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a little extreme, in my humble opinion.

  4. Will says:

    what were Tenet’s qualitications? we’ve been through all this before, to wit: a senate staffer and a brown noser.
    What is the value of a medal of freedom? When the likes of Lewis Paul Bremer and George John Tenet are the recepients of the award, it is base coinage. Let them keep it and design a new medal.
    No military service, a busboy in a restaurant, senate staff, a member of Clilnton’s national security team, then poof DCI. His highschool classmate Ron Jeremy (Hyatt),the pornographer, has a more distinguished and honorable career. As between the two, who is the bigger whore?

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    How do you propose to peneterate these networks?
    I recall a narcotics case in Toronto in which the provincial police could not make any headway since the ring was made up of people of a certain ethnicity and the same city and thus impossible to peneterate – neither Bourne nor Bond would have been able to do much either.

  6. frank durkee says:

    Col. What is the remedy, if there is one?

  7. verc says:

    you list “Bureaucratic inertia” as one of the reasons things weren’t prevented.
    This is a good and interesting point. Bureaucratic inertia plagues our government at all levels, not just the intelligence field.
    This is one of our weak spots on many levels, and one where there are no easy solutions?
    How are we to combat bureaucratic inertia? Consolidate power in a unitary executive?
    CYA culture will always trump risk taking and creative thinking.
    We’re going to have to think outside the box.

  8. Montag says:

    That medal is really more of a Booby Prize, isn’t it? Almost everyone who received it has sold their integrity in one way or another.
    In the old “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” TV series retirees from the criminal organization THRUSH were given gold watches. Since THRUSH frowned on leaving loose ends the watches had a nasty habit of exploding. Now I’m not saying they were right, but it’s worth considering, if you take my meaning. We could call it the “Oreo Medal,” in honor of the explosive filling between the two wafers. Think of the number of trees that would be saved by the unwritten memoirs.

  9. W. Patrick Lang says:

    What would be the solution? Start over.
    Is this a volunteer statement? pl

  10. zanzibar says:

    Our political leaders and our intelligence apparatus are too busy spying on us in the name of keeping us safe from I suppose the takfiri jihadists. I guess they prefer and it must be a lot easier to shred the 4th amendment and create the conditions for tyranny at home than actually do something for the country and penetrate the jihadi organizations. But without the Bin Laden and Zawahiri bogeyman how could they have so easily suspended habeas corpus and protection from unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause and warrants.
    And we elect these people???

  11. Paul Christopher says:

    I could not agree more with your comments. I can not help but wonder however whether we might have achieved more if there had not been the reallocation of resources away from Afghanistan to Iran back in 2002 – 2003. Among other factors, success in HUMINT is also a matter of timing.
    CIA and DIA leadership (uniform and civilian) did fail miserably. Save some blame for the FBI which zealously and jelously guarded its rice bowl regarding terrorism inside our borders.

  12. jonst says:

    I don’t know about “Bourne or Bond”, but John Walker Lindh seemed to pull it off. With enough money, time, patience, and determination anything can be penetrated.

  13. Cold War Zoomie says:

    First off, no-one’s recalling any medal. That would be admitting a mistake!
    From your article:
    “In the espionage field of endeavor, the function of managers is to be “enablers,” to make workable the environment in which gifted case officers can break through the manifold barriers that will enable the penetration of groups that threaten the lives of our people.”
    One of the best managers I ever had told me that his job was to make sure I had the resources to do my job well. Period. He backed us up all the way, all the time.
    He was a production manager for a satellite communications equipment manufacturer, not a government “kiss-ass.”
    Successful companies understand this. Most govie managers don’t.

  14. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    PL, agree with Essay.
    Congress can work to fix the problem through appropriate legislation given the will and the leadership of members:
    1.Senators and Congressmen who recognize problem and wish to enact legislation to remedy it.
    2.Correctly drafted legislation.
    3.Votes to pass legislation.
    As such legislation would be technical in essence, ” a more effective intelligence process,” it could be presented and handled in a non-controversial manner with consensus on both sides to pass it.
    Boils down to will and leadership in Congress and sometimes the chemistry is right for this despite what we usually see.

  15. Will says:

    from tomdispatch, the history of the car bomb
    “It also provoked the Palestinians to cruel repayment in kind. The Arab High Committee had its own secret weapon — blond-haired British deserters, fighting on the side of the Palestinians. Nine days after the Jaffa bombing, some of these deserters, led by Eddie Brown, a former police corporal whose brother had been murdered by the Irgun, commandeered a postal delivery truck which they packed with explosives and detonated in the center of Haifa’s Jewish quarter, injuring 50 people.

    from Cordesman, breakdown of Syrian and Israeli forces, see syriacomment.com
    IDF speciality units
    “Sayeret Duvdenvan, a deep cover unit that normally acts as Palestinians.”
    “1 Egoz, a special unit dealing with the threat from the Hezbollah.”
    “Mista’arvin: undercover operatives speaking and acting as Arabs.”

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I observe here that life in the United States is very comfortable, even compared with the European Union. Thus, why would anyone take upon himself decades of unpleasant duty in an unpleasnat part of the world? Bad career move.
    In case of the Cold War, I should think that the racial and cultural similarities on both side of the so-called Iron curtain made spying more practical.
    So, I cannot understand the basis of your statement that “it can be done.”

  17. mo says:

    Anyone who claims that “penetrating these groups is “too hard to do” deserves the one word derisory “Rubbish” response. Had this administration built bridges rather than burn them they would have been able to call on more than enough people in the Arab and Muslim world who hate these groups to not only infiltrate but overwhelmingly infest their heirarchy.
    Of course this administration only talks to its friends. And the greatest irony is that Americas allies in the ME and Muslim world are also those most closely linked with Bin Laden and his acolytes.

  18. taters says:

    Excellent Col Lang., thanks.
    johnst – Interesting my friend.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Mo understands. As for the process it could be described a number of ways.
    1- peeling an onion.
    2- daisy-chaining. pl

  20. David W says:

    While I believe that there are still some ‘angels’ within the CIA, it is my outsider’s perception that the Agency has rotted from the head down. Given the Agency’s real mission statement for the past 50 years has been to install US-corporate friendly regimes around the world, it’s no wonder that there is little impetus for infiltrating Al Qaeda. Political assassinations and dirty tricks are the fun stuff for these guys, but they’ve dulled the knife, so to speak, so that all it is good for is cutting butter, not meat. Also, a knife only cuts according to the hand that guides it!
    While it is a mystery to rational heads here and elsewhere about why the US abandoned the Afghanistan theatre, it is because, in the eyes of the Cabal, there was no real gain to be made there–capturing/killing Bin Laden is a canard, and he is frankly more useful to them alive than dead. Just as with Al Qaeda and Iraq, the carrot is always just out of reach, necessitating further expenditures, thus perpetuating the infernal machine, to the profit of those who run it.

  21. Interesting arty. Question really becomes, how do you change the incentives…. US Congress intervenes, but in a manner that makes things more risk averse.
    That and the charming US addiction to technologies.

  22. walrus says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to bang the “Narcissist” drum yet again because some of you don’t seem to understand that these people are everywhere in management and people underestimate the damage they do. By the way, the queen of Narcissists, Leona Hemsley, has just passed away.
    I would have thought it was obvious why no penetration was attempted and human intelligence was devalued – it goes with the territory of having too many narcissist managers around.
    The last thing that Narcissist Managers want is to be confronted with unpleasant INCONTROVERIBLE FACTS that conflict with their pet theories that are usually tied to their next move up the management ladder.
    Then of course machines are easier for managers to CONTROL than humans because they don’t do irregular and unexpected things, and narcissists basically cannot empathise with anyone, so this independent behaviour is both misunderstood, deeply troubling, and a threat to the managers well being and continued advancement.
    To put it another way, investing in spies, penetration, case officers etc., severely reduces managers control over events and also potentially increases uncertainty for the Manager – this they hate.
    The absence of facts allows managers to play games as much as they like.
    Furthermore, the apparent failure of the various services to share information and produce a coordinated response is also a typical narcissistic failing. Narcissists don’t share – ever, and they don’t cooperate either. If someone is aware, for example, through signals intelligence of increased levels of traffic between Saudi Arabia and Florida flying schools their internal question is “How can I use this information to advance my career?”, not “who has the other pieces of this jigsaw?”.
    I spent four years in a senior management position in an organisation having to confront, on a weekly basis, the self serving delusional plans of my boss, including proposed investment decisions that would have given him seats on many Boards, and I did it by providing a well argued case backed up by verifiable FACTS.
    And….at the earliest possible opportunity when the Board of Directors weren’t looking, he quietly got rid of me.
    Last time I looked the company was down about $250 million in cold hard cash.

  23. I have been told that – while many of the Islamic militant groups themselves might be difficult to penetrate – they do not exist in a vacuum.
    They are affilitated with many gun smuggling, drug running, money laundering, and similar organizations which are not so tightly knit and – therefore – would be relatively easier to infiltrate. ( James Bond would have difficulty posing as a Pashtun but posing as an art fence from The City should be feasible for him. )
    Since the militants must, to operate, network with art fences, they effectively could be subverted by that sort of angle.

  24. mo says:

    Hizballah apart, all the other groups are not at all dificult to infiltrate. The fuel for all these organisations is people. They do not have widespread support and therefore need every erstwhile volunteer they can get their hands on. 99.9% of their volunteers will not have backgrounds or training that will make them any more useful than foot soldiers. Even Bond would find it easy to get in, as say a recent convert to Islam (and we all know how much more fanatical a recent convert to a religion is).

  25. John Shreffler says:

    Thanks for banging the “Narcissist” drum. You’ve explained Bush to me better than any other theory I’ve seen yet. Too bad about Iran: all those pesky facts to make him look bad.

  26. Mo
    That does not jive with what I have heard. I keep reading these news reports about how entire towns in Morocco have become dedicated to jihadism and how young bloods are constantly coming to Iraq.
    I’ll grant you that, in the manner of Sir Richard Burton, it might be possible to join this flow; but that would be some trick and Burton was more highly skilled than most people we have now.

  27. Mo says:

    My comments are based on local knowledge and local media (by local I mean the general Arab world) so obviously I am giving opinion rather than statistical fact based analysis. However, if we are talking Western news reports then I will clarify further what I said.
    Western media lumps all Islamist groups into one pot. In the Arab world there is a clear and distinct seperation in the way groups like Hizballah, Hamas and the Iraqi resistance are looked and the way Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups are looked at.
    When I say groups do not have widespread support, I am specifically refering to the latter. The former have, especially since last summer, a massive following and are not regarded in the way they are seen in the West, especially in North Africa.
    There are young bloods coming to Iraq; There will always be those that see the suffering of fellow Muslims and want to act on it. The fact they become associated with the Al Qaeda type groups though illustrates my point about how easy they are to infiltrate.
    Any non-Iraqi turning up looking to enlist in fighting US troops will find the “legitimate” resistance groups unwelcoming while the Wahabis will be only to pleased to let you join. And converts of anglo-saxon origin have not exactly been rare in recent salafist history.

  28. Martin K says:

    SOme ideas:
    * They (the takfiris) have killed a lot of civilians. Hire the relatives.
    * Create a non-american CIA unit. Hire in pakistani, chinese, russian, Chechen operatives, let them work together using their combined sources.
    * Go after the druglords. Cut the roots, not the buds, go after the logistical bases. (The russians used self-exploding weapons in Chechnya…)
    * Do A LOT of good deeds. Build orphanages, sponsor moderates, build schools etc. Not only in the hotspots, but in the surrounding areas.
    * And of course, as the USArmy has finally concluded, do COINT, not force-projection and shock & awe.

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