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Intelligence and the need for secrecy

This morning on C-Span, a spokesman for some group was complaining about presidential secrecy. Presidential documents may be kept secret for six years, very generous by world standards. A common criticism of the Afghan war is that the US administration asks the world to take on trust its assertion that bin Laden is behind all the terrorism. The government viewpoint is expressed by Paul Simon:

"Well, I guess it's frustrating to someone outside the US government to hear that we have convincing evidence but won't share it around with the media, with hostile governments, and with nuts on the street. The reality is that intelligence gathering is very sophisticated and involves multiple collection points, human and electronic. Unfortunately, no intelligence organization in the world is going to blow it's wiretaps, bugs, satellite imagery, human assets, etc. just to satisfy the obstreperous demands of a reporter too torpid to gather his own facts or a demagogue who would just claim the information was faked, anyway. It is a sad truth in life, be it in intelligence sharing, passing laws, conducting ANY policy, that not everyone can be satisfied".

My comment We could quote the Tonkin Bay incident and the gross mistakes "sophisticated" US intelligence has made.

Ronald Hilton - 11/6/01