Saturday, April 18, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Spying drop-off in Iraq preceded fresh insurgency

By
From page A1 | June 26, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — CIA officers in Iraq have been largely hunkered down in their heavily fortified Baghdad compound since U.S. troops left the country in 2011, current and former officials say, allowing a once-rich network of intelligence sources to wither.

That’s a big reason, they say, the U.S. was caught flat-footed by the recent offensive by a Sunni-backed al-Qaida-inspired group that has seized a large swath of Iraq.

“This is a glaring example of the erosion of our street craft and our tradecraft and our capability to operate in a hard place,” said John Maguire, who helped run CIA operations in Iraq in 2004. “The U.S. taxpayer is not getting their money’s worth.”

Maguire was a CIA officer in Beirut in the late 1980s during that country’s bloody civil war. He spent weeks living in safe houses far from the U.S. Embassy, dodging militants who wanted to kidnap and kill Americans. In Iraq, where Maguire also served, the CIA’s Baghdad station remains one of the world’s largest. But the agency has been unwilling to risk sending Americans out regularly to recruit and meet informants.

Iraq is emblematic of how a security-conscious CIA is finding it difficult to spy aggressively in dangerous environments without military protection, Maguire and other current and former U.S. officials say. Intelligence blind spots have left the U.S. behind the curve on fast-moving world events, they say, whether it’s disintegration in Iraq, Russia’s move into Crimea or the collapse of several governments during the Arab Spring.

Without directly addressing the CIA’s posture in Iraq, agency spokesman Dean Boyd noted that 40 officers have died in the line of duty since September 2001. He called “offensive” any suggestion that “CIA officers are sitting behind desks, hiding out in green zones, or otherwise taking it easy back at the embassy.”

Boyd said the intelligence community provided plenty of warning to the Obama administration that the insurgent Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, known as ISIL, could move on Iraqi cities.

“Anyone who has had access to and actually read the full extent of CIA intelligence products on ISIL and Iraq should not have been surprised by the current situation,” he said.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House intelligence committee, agreed, saying, “This was not an intelligence failure — this was a policy failure.”

However, while U.S. intelligence officials predicted that ISIL would attempt to seize territory in Iraq this year, they did not appear to anticipate ISIL’s offensive on June 10 to seize Mosul, which created a momentum that led to other successes. Officials also expressed surprise at how quickly the Iraqi army collapsed. And military leaders contemplating quick airstrikes said there was not enough intelligence to know what to hit.

A senior U.S. intelligence official who briefed reporters this week acknowledged that “a lot of the (intelligence) collection that we were receiving diminished significantly following the U.S. withdrawal in Iraq in 2011, when we lost some of the ‘boots on the ground’ view of what was going on.” Under rules for such briefings, the official spoke on condition that her name not be used.

In the same briefing, the official disclosed that U.S. intelligence did not know who controlled Iraq’s largest oil refinery. And she suggested that one of the biggest sources of intelligence for American analysts is Facebook and Twitter postings.

The U.S. spent nearly $72 billion on intelligence gathering in 2013.

It was telling that President Barack Obama sent 300 special operations troops “to help us gain more intelligence and more information about what ISIL is doing and how they’re doing it,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said — an implicit admission that American intelligence-gathering about ISIL has been insufficient.

No one suggests that the CIA carries all the blame. After American troops left Iraq, the State Department abandoned plans for a huge diplomatic staff at a network of facilities.

Kevin Carroll, a former CIA operations officer with Middle East experience, said it’s unreasonable to expect the agency to collect “from a fortified war zone embassy the breadth and depth of information collected when U.S. military bases and troops throughout Iraq helped support CIA operations.”

But for Maguire and other former intelligence officials, it’s clear the CIA has allowed its espionage muscles to atrophy.

CIA officers lived in well-guarded bases all over Iraq during the U.S. occupation, and met frequently with Iraqis. But even then, it wasn’t traditional spying. Often, agency operatives would travel to meet sources in highly visible armed convoys. They knew that the U.S. military was somewhere over the horizon if things went wrong. And security concerns often left case officers confined to their bases, several former CIA officers said.

The agency operates the same way in Afghanistan, where it is also closing a series of remote bases as the U.S. troop presence there draws down. Intelligence collection there is expected to suffer as well.

The CIA’s approach is designed, current and former officials say, to prevent the sort of thing that happened in 1984, when Beirut station chief William Buckley was kidnapped from his apartment by Hezbollah and tortured to death. But bases can also be attacked, as in 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, when two CIA contractors were among four dead Americans.

Other intelligence services accept more risk. In Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, most case officers operate outside of embassies, posing as civilians under what the U.S. calls “non official cover,” said Ronen Bergman, who covers intelligence affairs for Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth and is working on a history of the Mossad.

In countries such as Iran where Israel does not have an embassy, the Mossad sends deep cover operatives to live and gather intelligence, knowing they could be executed if discovered, Bergman said.

But Israel can call upon a large population of native Arabic speakers whose appearance allows them to blend in. U.S. intelligence leaders have been talking for years about the need to recruit case officers who look like they could blend in and train them in difficult languages, but current and former officials say it just hasn’t happened at the level anticipated after 9/11.

The intelligence budget document leaked last year by Edward Snowden shows that after 11 years of war in Afghanistan, just 88 people in civilian U.S. intelligence agencies got bonuses for speaking Pashto, the language of the Taliban and its allies.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
 
Child care program helps teen parents, students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Wood students entertain guests at Epcot

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A2

 
 
 
Solano County Science Fair continues to grow

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Weather for Saturday, April 18, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Family awarded rights to rare coins

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
 
Dog flu outbreak sweeps across the Midwest

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

AG announces anti-bias training program

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
 
Iraqi officials believe Saddam’s top deputy killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Germany mourns citizens lost in plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Following Alps crash, debate over pilotless planes heats up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Time for meaningful financial reform

By Paul A. Volcker | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in history: Saturday, April 18, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 18, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My daughter is upset that I didn’t attend my former in-law’s funeral

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Idea from Adam Sandler film used to soothe dementia patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

.

Sports

JC baseball: Falcons win as Pavlovsky, Evans homer

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Prep badminton: Mustangs roll to 15-0 win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Prep baseball: Haney hurls Vanden to 3-2 win over Benicia

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Armijo nears girls soccer title with 2-0 MEL win

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

SCAC girls roll past MEL 55-28 in All-Star hoops game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
SCAC boys slip past MEL in entertaining All-Star game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Athletics fall to Royals 6-4 in rematch of AL wild-card game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors, Pelicans enter series with different pedigrees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Prep softball: Seldon powers Rodriguez to victory over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Collmenter shuts down Giants, gets three hits in D-backs win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Merritt’s 61 trumps Masters champion Spieth’s 62

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

2 minor league baseball teams to test game with 5-pitch rule

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NBA could alter schedule, but no change to playoffs, lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Coonan stepping down as Santa Clara’s athletic director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says he “let down” fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers fullback Miller at home in Georgia after March arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockhold hopes win over Machida launches him into contention

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Martina Hingis to make singles comeback in Fed Cup match

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Injured Giants fan throws out first ball in San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Flyers fire head coach Craig Berube after 2 seasons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hornets GM Cho: Stephenson ‘didn’t work like we expected’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Brazil eyes historic medal haul in 2016 Rio Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

2 weeks before Mayweather-Pacquiao, not a ticket to be seen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Big Ten’s Delany lays out plan for freshman ineligibility

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Before ruling out an upset in NBA East, listen to these guys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Western Conference teams face perilous path to NBA Finals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for April 18

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Back on the USA Network: Sports return with NHL playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Frederick’s of Hollywood reveals closing of retail stores

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Don’t plan to line up for Apple Watch next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Glaxo recalls flu vaccine due to potency problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 4 Comments

 
California home prices hit new 7-year high, sales rebound

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Douglas Craig Sparks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7