Blind as a nation due to intelligence failures

Editor’s Note – Are we blind as a nation due to intelligence failures? Are we blind concerning Iran?

Admiral Lyons does a great job describing how broken our intelligence community is and where it is evolving. He does mention failures, but perhaps the biggest failure is who is appointed and by whom. In the current administration, the proof is as clear as a sunny day in May – political ideology has cheapened the quest for true security in the homeland.

Just like the failures of 1983 – Iranian backed – What are we missing or not reporting up today?

This issue is similar to one of an NSA intercept of the Iranian ambassador in Damascus reporting back to the foreign ministry in Tehran on instructions he had given terrorist groups in Beirut to concentrate their attacks on the Multi-National Force but undertake a “spectacular action” against the U.S. Marines. This intercept was issued by the NSA in a highly classified message on Sept. 27, 1983, almost four weeks before the Marine barracks bombing.

SUA has been pointing out these failures – Janet Napolitano, General Clapper, Eric Holder, and ultimately, a President who has an agenda that defies explanation, from a patriotic American and Constitutional perspective. Islam seems more important than traditional American values and is ruled by an extreme politically ideological Progressivism.

Politics trumps national security.

LYONS: How smart is intelligence bureaucracy?

Post-9/11 reform still results in erroneous threat assessments

By Adm. James A. Lyons – Washington Times

Adm. James A. Lyons

The 9/11 Commission concluded in its final report in 2004 that the U.S. intelligence community (IC) organization, as it was structured then, had contributed to a failure to develop a management strategy to counter Islamic terrorism. The report concluded that the traditional existing IC agencies’ stovepipes had to be eliminated and a position should be established for an administrator who would have powerful oversight authority.

To accomplish this urgent task, one of the commission’s principal recommendations was establishment of the position of director of national intelligence (DNI), which would be separate from the director of the CIA.

There were many arguments against establishing the position of DNI. Some asserted that had it existed before the Sept. 11 attacks, it would not have prevented them. That remains an open question. It should be recalled that the 9/11 Commission staff discovered just before its final report went to the printers in July 2004 a six-page National Security Agency (NSA) analysis summarizing what the intelligence community had learned about Iran’s direct involvement in the attack.

Was this information collected before or after the attacks? As of now, we don’t know because there has been no follow-up investigation by any congressional committee or the newly established DNI.

This issue is similar to one of an NSA intercept of the Iranian ambassador in Damascus reporting back to the foreign ministry in Tehran on instructions he had given terrorist groups in Beirut to concentrate their attacks on the Multi-National Force but undertake a “spectacular action” against the U.S. Marines. This intercept was issued by the NSA in a highly classified message on Sept. 27, 1983, almost four weeks before the Marine barracks bombing.

I was the deputy chief of naval operations then and did not get to see this critical message until two days after the bombing. Most key decision-makers have never seen this message.

Would a DNI have ensured that such a critical message was brought to the attention of key decision-makers? That also remains an open question. The bottom line is that personnel performance at all levels must recognize the critical nature of key intelligence and not worry about who gets the credit.

Interviews of former 9/11 Commission members showed they thought the structure of the DNI’s support should remain small, but it has evolved into essentially a new intelligence agency. It has expanded rapidly, with many large offices and a staff of at least 1,600 (as of 2010), plus untold numbers of contract personnel.

The question has to be asked: Has the establishment of the DNI improved the performance of the intelligence community? Aside from Islamic terrorist attacks such as the massacre at Fort Hood, the nation has been kept safe from Sept. 11-like attacks since the establishment of the DNI. However, it is believed that the difference can be attributed to the added investment in IC resources rather than to more centralized or cogent management of the community by the DNI.

The DNI organization has evolved into an oversight bureaucracy for much broader intelligence activities, in which it has not been entirely effective. For example, the DNI wrongly claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “largely secular” organization in spite of the fact that its creed is to topple the U.S. government and replace our Constitution with Shariah law.

There was a failure to predict and keep pace with the “Arab Spring” uprisings and their rapid evolution. During the Libyan uprising, the DNI specifically stated that he thought Moammar Gadhafi would prevail. We all know how that came out.

There also have been wrong assessments on key stages in the development of Iran’s nuclear weapon program. On Feb. 16, the DNI released a questionable gap-laden threat assessment to the Senate Armed Services Committee. It failed even to mention the terrorist group Hezbollah or any of Iran’s asymmetric “acts of war” against the United States for more than 30 years, led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

These obviously wrong assessments raise questions about the validity of other DNI assessments in critical areas that affect not only the United States but our allies. The DNI and the IC are facing a number of major intelligence challenges involving the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea, and also China’s aggressive military expansion program. Immediate concerns involve China’s clear assistance to North Korea’s nuclear weapon program, which highlight the folly of the Six Party talks, which should be terminated immediately. China’s assistance to Iran’s nuclear weapon program – either directly or through third parties – needs to be uncovered.

The American public needs to have confidence in the DNI’s and intelligence community’s capability of providing accurate intelligence that is not politicized.

At the end of the day, having a DNI does not guarantee that there will be no more Sept. 11s.


Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Do nothing, not a good business plan nor foreign policy advantage

Editor’s Note – Yet another senior military leader questions the current administration’s diplomatic skills, or severe lack thereof. Additionally, he questions Obama’s leadership, or lack thereof, and his advisers and their roles in counseling the President with current foreign understanding, and again, the lack thereof!

Sitting on our hands is no longer an option

By Adm. James A. Lyons

The Washington Times

Now that the last U.S. troops have withdrawn from Iraq, the question of how to deal with Iran’s aggression and its drive to develop a nuclear weapon remains less than clear. At the White House meeting on Dec. 12 between President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, only passing recognition was given to these two issues.

Mr. Obama warned Iran not to meddle in Iraq. I am sure the fanatic mullahs will view the president’s warning as just another hollow gesture. The Iranian rulers know that when they directly confront the United States, they have nothing to fear because our leaders have shown they lack the political will to respond. Regretfully, this has included every administration from President Carter’s to Mr. Obama’s.

The political tenure of Mr. al-Maliki’s regime is dependent on his main ally, the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who spends most of his time in Iran. One of the key conditions for his support, as dictated by Iran, was that there would be no U.S. military remaining in Iraq after Dec. 31. Furthermore, the Hezbollah-trained cleric has declared U.S. Embassy personnel as an “occupation force” that Iraq rightly should attack. So much for democracy in Iraq. How comforting.

After the U.S. has suffered more than 4,400 troop fatalities and tens of thousands injured, plus expending almost $1 trillion, why have we not been able to negotiate future arrangements with Iraq that better serve U.S. interests? The answer lies with Mr. al-Maliki’s and President Obama’s agenda.

Mr. al-Maliki’s uncooperative actions should come as no surprise. He fled Iraq on July 16, 1979, and spent most of his exile for 24 years in Iran and Syria as a “guest” of the regimes. Mr. al-Maliki has been in the service of the Dawa Islamic Party since his college days in Iraq. The Dawa Party was an organization of secret military cells with close links to the fanatical revolutionary regime in Iran. As a political officer for Dawa, Mr. al-Maliki developed close ties with the terrorist group Hezbollah and particularly with Iran. We can expect Mr. al-Maliki to do just enough to keep our dollars flowing.

Not surprisingly, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has said he has no confidence in Mr. al-Maliki. The king further stated, “I don’t trust this man. He is an Iranian agent.” He has opened the door for Iranian influence in Iraq. It is interesting to note that in 2007, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Carl Levin, plus several other U.S. politicians, called for Mr. al-Maliki’s removal from office. Yet as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton, along with the rest of the Obama administration, ignored Mr. al-Maliki’s stealing of the election in 2009 from pro-Western former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Any other outcome would not have served Mr. Obama’s engagement agenda.

Mr. Obama’s engagement policy with our sworn enemies, more accurately described as “appeasement,” has weakened U.S. credibility and influence throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. The administration’s Arab Spring political tactics have been a disaster. Political factions representing both the Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood have gained commanding positions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. In Syria, the administration has failed to back the pro-Western opposition forces. In 2009, Mr. Obama also failed to support the “Green Revolution” in Iran because, he stated, it would be “counterproductive” for the United States “to be seen as meddling” in Iran’s domestic affairs. What nonsense.

When Muslim Brotherhood front representatives are brought in to provide advice to our military and government agencies, red flags should go up. This would have been like having KGB agents advise our government on how to combat the old Soviet Union. When this action is combined with the Obama administration’s repeated directives prohibiting the use of terms such as “Islamic terrorism,” “Islamist” and “jihadist” to describe radical Islam, one easily could conclude that we have a pro-Islamist administration in Washington.

Nonetheless, we still must deal with Iran’s unrelenting progress toward achieving nuclear-weapon capability. With the apocalyptic mindset of the fanatic mullahs, containment is not an option. Regime change is the only solution. Even though the Green Revolution was crushed in 2009, there are some encouraging signs that the anti-regime opposition forces are still alive. According to recent reports, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of explosions at Iranian pipelines and refineries. The massive explosions at Isfahan and the Bedganet air base where Gen. Hassan Tibrani Moghaddam was killed and about 180 Shabab-3 ballistic missiles were destroyed was encouraging.

While these are helpful signs, much more needs to be done. The recent sacking of the United Kingdom’s embassy in Tehran by the goons from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Basij paramilitary force has helped unite Europe. The United Kingdom has imposed sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank. We should support that move by:

  • Imposing sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank.
  • Supporting the United Kingdom’s call for a European embargo on Iranian oil. Europe buys about 25 percent of Iran’s oil exports, but that represents just 5 percent of Europe’s oil imports. We should broker a deal with Saudi Arabia to fill this gap to maintain oil price stability.
  • Encouraging the French to cut off satellite service to Iran. Iran’s TV networks are broadcast through the French-owned Eutelsat.
  • Covertly assisting anti-regime forces in continuing to sabotage Iran’s critical installations as well as nuclear installations.
  • Refining our plans for strikes on Iran to include not only its nuclear installations, but also military targets in order to assist opposition forces when they rise up to overthrow the regime. The fear that the general population would rally around the rogue regime is unfounded.

Finally, we need to actively support the opposition forces in Syria to rid Iran of a key ally.

Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.