Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 31st, 2010

Cloudier than ever: Intelligence agencies in the USA. Part 2

In the previous post I described the various intelligence services clouding decision-making and becoming worse in efficiency since the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Additional 263 new secret service agencies were created since 2002 to the over one thousand services in existence, not counting the 2,000 private secret organizations supporting the intelligence endeavors.

It turned out that no coordination was instituted, which was the purpose of creating the 263 new agencies:  multiplied redundancy, confusion, rivalry among the agencies, and the siphoning of over 400 additional billions from 2002 to 2009 were the end results, so far.

The Congress still add 20 billion dollars each year for this behemoth of labyrinthine structure.  Cloudiness in responsibilities, unidentified delimitation in authority among the agencies, redundancy in gathering intelligence, and the impossible task of analyzing trillion of pieces of information are the norm.

The Washington Post undertook an investigation into the US intelligence agencies that lasted two years.  Twenty journalists were mobilized along with Dana Priest, twice awarded the Pulitzer on her investigative reporting in the secret prisons of the CIA and in the military hospital of Walter Reed where most of the injured soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are receiving below standard health treatment.

The other renown journalist is William Arkin who served in the military intelligence for four years and is currently working with NGO, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace.

The ex-director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, declared: “We thought that if it was worth undertaking it then, it must be worth overdoing it.

The Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) increased from 7,500 employees to over 16,500 since 2002.  The budget of the National Security Agency (NSA) doubled.  The number of special units in the FBI jumped from 35 to 106 units.

Robert Gates, Defense minister who administer two third of all the secret agencies declared: “Things have developed so strangely that it is a real challenge to having any kind of idea of how security is functioning. Isn’t this formidable machine just too big for our needs?

Two of the highest officials of the “Super-Users” of the Pentagon’s programs admitted: “I cannot live long enough to nail down what’s going on.”

On his first briefing, one of the highest official was introduced into a tiny room to visualize the maze of a Powerpoint structure of the various agencies; he was not permitted to take notes.  General John Vines said: “The complexity of the (intelligence) system defies any description.”  CIA director, Leon Panetta is terribly worried: “The expenses are so huge that we will end up hitting a wall.”

In most agencies there is at least a room, some of them 4 times the size of a football field, called “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF)” that only top security people work in; they are the lowest paid and most valued employees: the “Analysts“.

The analysts are recruited from universities as they graduate; they have poor general knowledge, lack language proficiency in more than one, and are supposed to analyzing important intelligence pieces of people, culture, and languages they are not familiar with.

There are special officers in charge of the famous “Special Access Program (SAP)”.  James Clapper declared: “Maybe God can dispose of an overall visibility on the collection of the SAP.”  It is a recurring behavior for high officials using secret intelligence pieces to sidetrack rival officials. For example, an officer is ordered not to divulge certain intelligence to his superior, a 4-stars General.

A few of the created agencies are described.

1. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) started its activities in january 2003 and is directed by the minister of internal security. Originally, this agency was to coordinate and develop a global national strategy to combatting “terrorism”.

2. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was created in 2004 with mission of figuring out how to putting order among the 16 agencies specially designed to intelligence gathering (good luck).  Congress didn’t vote on attaching any judiciary or budget to the ODNI.  Consequently, he cannot have any power on the other secret agencies that he was meant to control.  Before Negroponte assumed his activities, the ministry of Defense transferred billions of dollars from one budget into another and the CIA increased the level of security access to preventing this agency from accessing “sensitive” intelligence. When the ODNI started its activities in the spring of 2005, it had 11 employees. A year later, this agency occupied two floors of a building.  By 2008, it settled on the humongous Headquarter of Liberty Crossing.

3. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was created in August 2004 and depending on the Bureau of ODNI.

4. US Secret Services (USSS) depends on the minister of internal security with two main missions: fighting financial frauds and assuring the security of the President and the high dignitaries.

The USA has 860,000 people carrying top-secret clarification to access secret service agencies.

The US has 1,271 secret agencies and about 2,000 private societies working on secret programs for gathering and analyzing pieces of intelligence.

The bouquet that clouds everything are the 50,000 published reports per year, on daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis by the various secret agencies.  How many top people in the hierarchy should be hired to exhaust reading all these “serious” reports?

Obviously, redundancy is the norm in these reports and the interesting information are mostly ignored by boredom, exhaustion, and self-sufficiency.

Secrets are not sacrosanct.  We prefer to keep them; that is true”; a sentence from John Le Carre in “A little town in Germany”

A year in preparation to get wed: Finally, Jojo and Yu

Note: Re-edit of “Joanna and Yuhanna (John) finally got wed!. August 31, 2010″

Joanna and Yuhanna planned for months their original and friendly wedding.

They decided by the minute details their wedding when Yuhanna joined Joanna last year in London.

The basic foundations were solid and the minor transformations, when the ideas were transplanted to Lebanon, did not affect the major directions and creative execution of this major project that is nerve-wracking at all levels.

People loved this wonderful couple: the couple is very much in love, valiant, patient, and groundbreakers in how wedding should be experienced and happiness shared.  It was a wedding of passion for details,  consuming enormous amount of manpower and time.

As Joanna explained it: “hand making a thousand origami swans is … something interesting”. I forgot the exact meaning or end result of this endeavor.  I also forgot the Japanese artist or wise man who encouraged hand making paper swans that swallowed an entire week of three individuals; mainly, the three other sisters Ashley, Adrea and Chelsea.

Only three of the maids of honor had wind of the marriage decision.  Thus, when the family received by mail six tiny bottles with a tiny roll inside, they had no idea what these gifts were about.

Strong with a magnifying glass we managed to decipher the secret scroll.

Joanna’s Mother Raymonde refused to believe what was written in the local Lebanese/Arabic on the ground that Joanna never keeps her out of secrets.  The father Victor understood the “fair-part” to wedding ceremony and not just another official second “fiancaille” in Lebanon. Grandmother Julia was relieved that Joanna has finally set a date for a wedding:  She likes Yuhanna very much and was pleased that he joined Joanna in London last year.

Joanna and Yuhanna reserved a couple of hours each day for rehearsal.  They exercised for the “inaugural” dance and for the instrumental music.

Basically, Joanna trained Yuhanna to safely nail down how to handle her dangerous sideways inclines.  Joanna was to play on her flute “traversiere” and Yuhanna on his trombone.  They performed well during the ceremony before opening the dance floor to our wild hopping around.

Raymonde got into sewing and altering the dresses of six girls (the maids of honors), and they were not of the accommodating kinds of girls in matter of fashion.  She spent enormous time to sewing the bride’s head shawl and then traveling several days to selecting her own gown.

Buying the right shoes for all these girls was a major headache.  Joanna had already purchased her wedding gown in London and her shoes were ordered from Australia; go figure!

Men dressing up was not relatively that hard; at least not for William who came in shorts.

Joanna and Yuhanna attempted for three days trying their hands to assign seats for the guests on a sheet of large paper.  Then, Victor had a look at the seating positions and discovered that he was turning his back to the assembly and the dance floor.  He got in such a rage that he envied me for being single and having no children that disrespect the position of the father.

Victor was then assigned to re-edit this dirty job that was boring the couple so terribly.  Victor ended up with the most frustrating job ever assigned on mankind for just the proper seating of 200 guests.

People who were supposed to join the ceremony cancelled and repositioning had to be redone.  People who declined coming called up to be included among the favored.  The sheet was to be re-edited with eraser and pencil.

Yuhanna was patiently updating on his computer the new modifications and proved to outperform Victor in patience.   Yuhanna was the Prophet Job of the project.

The hardest task turned out that half the guests are Not on talking terms with the other half.  This serious animosity among our citizens within a town is never that fundamental, but inherited from previous generations: the reasons why the grandfathers and grandmothers of families hated one another have been forgotten or verbally altered to the worst since there are no written records.

There are rare cases of fresh animosities such as failure to paying the proper amount of money for work done or the particular furnitures inherited or municipal election divergences, or not keeping traditional status in the hierarchy by “modern” youth, or not visiting the elders while in visit to Lebanon or …

No, the differences are not mainly of the social and political caste system of 19 religious sects, but of centuries of close cohabitation within isolated communities lacking of modern communication and ease of traveling.

There will be a follow up on the morning of the wedding day, and the church ceremony and the party afterward.

Suffice to say that every guest declared “This is the best wedding I assisted to from alpha to omega.”  During the party Yuhanna said to Joanna: “Why have you made me wait four years?“.  I think the wait was worth it, every second of it and for both parties.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2010
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