WATCHING THE WATCHMEN….A couple of years ago Seymour Hersh reported that President Bush had signed an executive order authorizing the Pentagon to conduct covert operations overseas. Why? Partly because he and Donald Rumsfeld no longer trusted the CIA, but also because CIA operations have to be authorized by the president and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Pentagon operations can be done with no oversight at all.
So how’s that working out? Greg Miller of the LA Times reports:
The spy missions are part of a highly classified program that officials say has better positioned the United States to track terrorist networks and capture or kill enemy operatives….But the initiative has also led to several embarrassing incidents for the United States, including a shootout in Paraguay and the exposure of a sensitive intelligence operation in East Africa, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. And to date, the effort has not led to the capture of a significant terrorism suspect.
But not to worry: despite these “coordination problems,” things are getting better. According to the CIA’s new military liaison, “the agency and the Pentagon [are] developing a more rigorous system for screening proposed military intelligence operations.” I wonder if that includes informing Congress?