Friday, January 01, 2010

Can the CIA even protect itself?

Long time, no post, eh? Well, the obvious thing to note is that the apparent lack of readers of this blog is certainly not motivating me to do more work here--and writing well is pretty hard work. If I make you think, then a tip of the hat via a comment would be appreciated. If you have contradicting evidence to cite, I'm especially interested in learning about it. If you agree, that's nice, but I confess I don't really care that much. Basically I'm confident that my views are well considered and well supported by lots of evidence. I'm actually more interested in reasoned disagreement supported by solid evidence--but there seems to be very little of that in American politics these days.

Having said that, the topic of today's scribbling is actually in the category of a thought experiment based on the recent bombing in Afghanistan that killed at least 8 Americans (with a couple more still at risk of dying from their injuries). The solid fact is that the victims were not military personnel, and the reports and some evidence supports their having been CIA employees. This thought experiment is based on the belief that they were CIA people, and that the Taliban bomber went after them for precisely that reason.

The conclusion of my little thought experiment is that the CIA is clearly functioning extremely poorly. It should be obvious that there is no good reason so many potential human targets should be allowed to gather in such a place, and if the CIA didn't understand that, then they are really foolish or incompetent or both. It does not matter at all when the bomber started working for the Taliban. Maybe he was an old member and the background screening failed, but that's extremely likely in the turmoil of Afghanistan. However, I think it probably more likely that his background was completely clean and checked--at the time he started working with the Americans. What happened later to flip him doesn't matter at all. Maybe he regarded himself as a true patriot and started working for the Americans precisely because he knew his background was clean--and then he contacted the Taliban to join up. Maybe the Taliban contacted him, telling him that his entire family was being held hostage and would be killed if he failed to kill the Americans. Those are just the three most obvious intermediate stages of this thought experiment, but the obvious conclusion is that NO Afghan can really be trusted in this context, and the Americans ALWAYS have to operate on that assumption.

If the bombed facility was for exercise, as widely reported, then it should have been divided up by walls of sandbags so that any bomb detonation could never kill more than two or three people at a time. I'd also put big mirrors in a lot of the corners to expose potential hiding places for shooters. Lots of other precautions leap to mind, but the obvious point is that a CIA base in that place HAD to use such precautions, and some more besides, as the old joke goes.

So why did I include a Dubya label for this post? Because I think a lot of the REAL problem is that Obama still hasn't cleaned up ANY of the major messes he inherited. To a degree, that's a natural state of affairs insofar as some parts of some government systems were working pretty well, and even where they weren't, most of the people in those systems were sincerely trying to do their best. Also, it's obviously dangerous to rock the boat when you're in the middle of a river--but the mess left behind by Dubya is more like being adrift in the middle of the Atlantic. I'll explain more when I get around to writing "Soccer Zen and nice guy Dennis Rodman, Part the Tiger Woods", which also belongs to this particular blog as another aspect of the malaise of America...

1 comment:

shanen said...

Well, I think the most obvious comment to be made about those speculations was that I shouldn't have bothered. Everything that was being said to that point was completely misleading, which is exactly par for the course whenever the CIA is involved in any way. The version I buy now is that they really did act in a stupid way, which is why they initially tried to create the more confusing versions of the story. Apparently there is even video of the actual event, in which the victims actually gathered around the car of the triple-agent bomber as he arrived. Perhaps another song and dance, but it sounds so stupid that it's hard to imagine it could be cover for something even less intelligent.

Though I haven't seen much discussion of the deeper aspects, I suspect it may be evidence of a kind of mission creep, from Dubya's faith-based difficult mission to a reality-based realization that the mission is impossible.

It's probably easier to consider in terms of 'asymmetric warfare'. Even a Rumsfeld can be rights once in a while, though not in his fantasy of solving the problem. It's more a matter of technology that is completely out of whack with what makes sense. It costs LOTS of money to keep a plane in the air, but it costs almost nothing to destroy it--and we can't possibly block all of the possible methods that could be used. Meanwhile, we have thousands of commercial airplanes in the air all of the time, but I think we should be more afraid of new and unexpected (but similarly expensive and vulnerable) targets.

We have to get the metaphorical heat away from the boiler, or there's going to be more explosions or equivalent events... Good luck in eliminating international poverty and despair.

Anyway, I still think the best we can do about the underwear bomber is to try to shift the focus to the potential victims. The terrorists want publicity, and if we're going to give it to them, at least we should make sure it's as bad as possible. Not fear mongering, but more of an appeal for mercy with links to anti-terrorist tip-reporting phone numbers and websites.


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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...