House Committee Reviewing US Intelligence in Ukraine

Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 08:13 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula over the weekend caught the United States by surprise, and the House Intelligence Committee wants to know why, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"We have begun a review to see what pieces were missing here," said House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican.

Neither the Pentagon nor the CIA saw it coming, though classified analysis from the latter concluded some indications of a possible Russian invasion, but it was not expected, officials told the Times.

The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency went so far as to conclude that 150,000 Russian troops performing military drills near the Ukrainian border posed no threat.

CIA spokesman Chris White defended his agency's work, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"Since the beginning of the political unrest in Ukraine, the CIA has regularly updated policy makers to ensure they have an accurate and timely picture of the unfolding crisis," he said. "These updates have included warnings of possible scenarios for a Russian military intervention in Ukraine."

For three months before the Russian invasion, protesters – angry over the government's decision to reject an accord with the European Union in favor of stronger ties with Russia — gathered in the capital city of Kiev to participate in demonstrations that snowballed from calm to violent, the BBC reported last month.

The violence spread to Crimea, which is largely populated with Russian-speaking people, and over the weekend the city was invaded by Russia, which had been conducting military training drills in the region. The Russians replaced the Ukrainian flag with its own in government buildings, and impeached President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia.

House Intelligence Committee members appeared to be taking a constructive posture with the intelligence investigation.

Rogers told the Journal that he didn't view the situation as an intelligence failure, but rather analysts coming to the wrong conclusion.

"Intelligence analysis is 'a very hard business,'" he said.

Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat also on the committee, echoed those sentiments.

"In intelligence, the hardest thing to get at is the intent of a foreign actor, and I don't know any good way to know what Putin is thinking at 3 in the morning," he told the Times.

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