Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shake-up in spookdom

New blends of intelligence activity are coming into play that bypass the old system, according to Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence.

Blair said such teams drew from various governmental agencies and were capable of rapid analysis and response. He did not deny a questioner's assertion that CIA officers are not automatically named to head these interdisciplinary teams. On the other hand, he agreed that the interdisciplinary approach faces strong resistance in Washington, where the CIA and Pentagon intelligence agencies have been strong rivals for decades.

In press briefing remarks posted on his office's web site, Blair said that a "muscular" intelligence strategy is necessary to counteract China's aggressive behavior, particularly its cyber-espionage. The National Intelligence Strategy that he unveiled says China, despite having common interests with the United States, is challenging America with its military modernization program and a diplomacy increasingly focused on natural resources.

The strategy document also noted that Russia, despite cooperation in curbing nuclear terror threats, may continue maneuvering to try to regain Soviet-era power in ways that complicate U.S. interests.

Another area of concern is counterintelligence. The strategy document carries a photo of CIA spy boss Aldrich Ames, whose treason for Russia left many bodies in its wake.

The CIA mastermind was eventually isolated by an interagency task force set up as a result of pressure from clandestine operatives in the field. It appears that Blair would like to use such interdisciplinary teams to smoke out spies and agents of influence in the CIA and Pentagon.

Yet, there is strong resistance to this sort of initiative, according to Blair.

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