While the situation in Egypt is admittedly “fluid,” as we used to say about almost every crisis I was involved in while serving at the Pentagon, I find it especially concerning that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency decided to use open source information as the basis of his Congressional testimony the day of Mubarak’s supposed-but-turned-out-not-to-be concession speech. (While news media information is sometimes valuable as a validation source, it is almost always tainted in one form or another and is therefore not suitable as the basis of credible analysis.)
The New York Times noted this fact, but gave it little attention and zero analysis by burying it in their 11 February piece on the Egyptian crisis. “The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, testified before the House of Representatives on Thursday morning that there was a “strong likelihood” that Mr. Mubarak would step down by the end of the day. American officials said Mr. Panetta was basing his statement not on secret intelligence but on media broadcasts…”
You’ve got to be kidding me—and all Americans! Let me get this straight, Panetta has at his fingertips the global apparatus of one of the best (no longer THE best, thanks to repeated liberal tear downs) intelligence communities in the world and he uses news media information to brief Congress? What? Who is running this insane asylum up there??
We pay billions of dollars and put many American and allied lives at risk annually to produce the best intelligence available. Mr Panetta, and other leaders in the intelligence community, lobby Congress for precious taxpayer dollars using their need to produce actionable information for our national leadership as a requirement.
Do the professionals get it wrong every now and then? Yes, that’s the nature of the business. However, by and large, our national security has rested on valuable and accurate intelligence throughout our history.
In the end, while this is but one isolated incident, I find it symptomatic of an amateur-hour Administration. The world’s current ills and our national security and standing in the world demand an Administration that is up to the task.