Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Intelligence Or Lack Thereof 

Okay, so the bombshell is that supposedly Ahmed Chalabi informed Iranian intelligence that their code was broken, and a coded message saying so was sent to Tehran and intercepted, and here we are.

Except that this "bombshell" was already reported by Michael Ledeen on NRO last week. Ledeen's argument is that an Iranian agent wouldn't inform his own masters using a supposedly broken code. The story is now that it was a test message to see whether Chalabi was screwing with them.

Okay, seems like that loophole got fixed. But the report is that the US didn't fall for the trap. Indeed, officials were asking news organizations not to report the story about 10 days ago.

So what does it all add up to? Either an elaborate smear campaign by the CIA, or another massive intelligence failure by the CIA. Both extremely disturbing concepts.

Why a massive intelligence failure: how can such highly classified information manage to be known by so many people? The secrecy of Allied knowledge of German and Japanese codes is legendary, and this sort of a leak is another sign of the decay in human intelligence abilities of the CIA. And how they handled this whole thing is just ridiculous: a high-profile raid on the INC offices that probably tipped off the Iranians. Heck, I still can't tell whether the Iranians have stopped using the code, although I doubt that they're using it now.

Why a smear campaign: my belief that, for crying out loud, the CIA isn't as incompetent that they have no common sense. I have difficulty believing that they bungled things up this badly: I have less difficulty, however, believing that this hurt Chalabi a lot politically and that damage has absolutely zero correlation with the truth.

At this point, I haven't much confidence in either interpretation; all I know is that this is a big setback for US intelligence against a terrorist regime that is on the verge of going nuclear.

Or maybe it's all a big conspiracy, even more complicated than anyone expects. Then again, that's probably the X-Files and Alias talking: in real life, we should all KISS up.
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